U.S. Justice Department's
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Dismisses Terror Threat
of Pistol Disguised as Pen
to Have Sold 4,000 "Pen Guns," Brags "No One Will Know It's A Pistol"
U.S. Justice Department's Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
(ATF) is continuing to place the general public at risk by refusing to
use its regulatory powers to restrict the availability of a handgun disguised
as a pen, the Violence Policy Center (VPC) charged today. Recently, the
gun's manufacturer, Canadian citizen Marc Lefebvre, president of Stinger
Manufacturing Co., Inc., bragged, "If I put it [the pen gun] on the table,
no one will know it's a pistol. If no one had ever seen our product, 80
percent of them would not know what it is." At the same time, an ATF spokesman
has acknowledged that "We [ATF] have the ability to re-evaluate this gun
but I don't know if we are going to at this time." Stinger is reported
to have sold approximately 4,000 of its pen guns.
ATF's inaction is
in spite of an October 2002 "Officer Safety Bulletin" warning about the
Stinger pen gun issued nationally by the U.S. Air Force Office of Special
Investigations based at Andrews Air Force Base, and warnings by the Department
of Homeland Security that terrorists might attempt to use ordinary items
to conceal explosives or weapons�the exact purpose of a pen gun.
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 Stinger's
pen gun 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. ATF could immediately re-classify the pen gun as
an AOW if it chose to do so.
VPC Executive Director
Josh Sugarmann asks, "What will it take for ATF to exercise its regulatory
authority�and governmental responsibility�to reclassify this weapon? Stinger's
pen gun can be re-classified tomorrow to protect public safety on our
streets, in our offices, in the air, and across borders. Yet blinded by
its growing fealty to the gun industry, ATF seems willing to wait for
tragedy before acting."
The Stinger pen gun,
manufactured in Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan, is 5.6 inches long, weighs
only five ounces when empty, and retails for $250. It is currently available
in 17 and 22 caliber, with more calibers "Coming Soon!" Stinger's web
site (www.stingerpengun.com) 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." A past advertisement displayed on the site states that
the gun "Transforms From A `Pen' To A Legal Pistol In 2 Seconds." Soon-to-be
marketed accessories include an 18-inch "sniper barrel" and attachable
"heart dagger." According to Stinger's Lefebvre, "Some people use them
as a concealed carry weapon, because it's a very concealable weapon."
Stinger also manufactures the "Survivor Knifegun,"�a handgun concealed
in a pocket knife with blade. The $375 "Knifegun" is 3.7 inches long,
1.09 inches wide, weighs 12 ounces, and is also classified by ATF as a
standard handgun. [See below for pictures of both.]
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.
Monday, November 17, 2003
Violence Policy Center
(202) 822-8200 x122