Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Allows Sale of Handgun
Disguised as a Pen Despite Law Enforcement Warning
U.S. Justice Department's Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
(ATF) is allowing the sale to the general public of a small-caliber handgun
disguised as a pen�despite the clear public safety threat such "pen guns"
represent�the Violence Policy Center (VPC) warned today.
The public safety
threat posed by the Stinger Pengun is made clear in an October 2002 "Officer
Safety Bulletin" regarding the weapon issued by the U.S. Air Force Office
of Special Investigations based at Andrews Air Force Base. The national
alert was apparently distributed to government, military, and local law
enforcement agencies. More recently, in August 2003, the Department of
Homeland Security warned that terrorists might attempt to use ordinary
items to conceal explosives or weapons�which is the exact purpose of the
Manufactured by Stinger
Manufacturing Corporation in Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan, the Stinger
Pengun is a single-shot pistol disguised as a pen. It is 5.6 inches long,
weighs only five ounces when empty, and retails for $250. It is currently
available in 17 and 22 caliber, and the company's web site (www.stingerpengun.com)
promises that more calibers are "Coming Soon!" A past advertisement on
the web site states that the gun "Transforms From A `Pen' To A Legal Pistol
In 2 Seconds." Promised soon-to-be marketed accessories include an 18-inch
"sniper barrel" and attachable "heart dagger." Stinger also manufactures
the "Survivor Knifegun," a handgun concealed in a pocket knife with blade.
The $375 "knifegun"�promoted as "The Pistol With A Sharp Edge"�is 3.7
inches long, 1.09 inches wide, and weighs 12 ounces. [See reverse for
pictures of both.] According to documents obtained by the Violence Policy
Center from ATF under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), Stinger was
incorporated in February 2002 by Canadian citizen Marc Lefebvre.
VPC Executive Director
Josh Sugarmann states, "ATF and the Justice Department have been put on
notice that the Stinger Pengun represents a clear threat to public safety
and law enforcement. ATF clearly has the authority�and legal responsibility�to
reclassify Stinger's pen and knife guns under federal law to tightly restrict
them and should do so immediately."
According to Stinger,
both guns have been approved for sale by ATF and under federal law are
sold with only the same restrictions that apply to standard handguns.
Advertising on Stinger's web site boasts, "The Stinger Pengun is the only
legal pengun in the world" and promises that the gun opens up "A whole
new world of possibilities." This is in spite of the fact that, according
to ATF, under federal law "Gadget-type firearms and `pen' guns which fire
fixed ammunition" are classified as an "Any Other Weapon" (AOW) under
the National Firearms Act of 1934 (NFA) and come under the NFA's strict
licensing and registration regimen. To purchase an "Any Other Weapon,"
the buyer must go through an extended and extremely detailed background
check, register the weapon, and receive approval from local law enforcement.
ATF distinguishes the Stinger Pengun and Knifegun from other such weapons
and treats them as standard handguns simply because in order to be fired,
the "grip," or handle, of the gun must be angled to its barrel [see below].
"This is a distinction
without a difference," adds Sugarmann. "It is almost unfathomable the
depths to which the Ashcroft Justice Department will sink to carry out
the bidding of the gun industry and its lobbying allies. Stinger's pen
and knife guns can be re-classified tomorrow to protect public safety
on the street, in our offices, and in the air. And if the Ashcroft Justice
Department truly cares about public safety, it will do so immediately."
with 18-inch Sniper Barrel
"ready to fire"
The Violence Policy Center is a
national non-profit educational foundation that conducts research on violence
in America and works to develop violence-reduction policies and proposals.
The Center examines the role of firearms in America, conducts research
on firearms violence, and explores new ways to decrease firearm-related
death and injury.
Tuesday, October 28, 2003
Violence Policy Center
(202) 822-8200 x122