My wife recently got into a few Facebook debates about gun control. One guy mentioned ‘combat shotguns’ and believes that they should be banned/restricted/whatever. Let’s examine that idea. At least for this argument, let’s agree that combat shotguns are bad and we want to restrict them.
So, what is a combat shotgun? How are they different from hunting and competition shotguns?
If I designed a shotgun for combat, I would want several things:
- durable so that it doesn’t break (stop working)
- reliable so that it doesn’t jam (stop working)
- light weight enough to carry all day
- heavy weight enough that it doesn’t kick too much
- useful at short range
Those first 4 items are equally useful for hunters and target competitors.
How do we make a shotgun ‘useful at short range’? Well, it probably has a short barrel so that it can be swung and pointed inside of small rooms.
Ok, so we’ve decided that shotguns with short barrels should be restricted. How short is too short? How long should be unrestricted? How about 18 inches?
We already have that law. Shotguns with barrels less than 18″ are heavily restricted (see ‘National Firearms Act’ 1934). That’s why shotguns with 18.5″ and 20″ barrels are often marketed as ‘home defense’ or ‘combat’ shotguns. If the limit had be set at 14″, then we’d have gun stores filled with 14″ shotgun barrels. If the limit had been set at 22″ then we’d have gun stores filled with 22″ shotgun barrels.
And of course, all of this ignores the simple fact that criminals can use a hacksaw to chop a long barrel into a short barrel. In the end, the restrictions are quite useless. Laws can only ever restrict the law-abiding.
Edited for typos 7/23 8:40pm