Federal Law on Design Safety Standards for Handguns

Posted on May 21, 2012

The federal Consumer Product Safety Act, which imposes health and safety standards on consumer products, exempts firearms and ammunition from its requirements.1 Federal law does prohibit the importation of junk guns through a ban on importation of firearms not suited for “sporting purposes.”2 The Attorney General determines the criteria used to evaluate whether a particular handgun is one suitable for “sporting purposes.” Under these guidelines, a pistol must have a positive manually operated safety device, a revolver must pass a safety test, and all firearms must have a certain number of safety features to be approved for importation, among other criteria.3 However, because the federal government has not regulated the safety of domestically-produced firearms, there is effectively a protected market for domestic models of junk guns.

A 2007 report by the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) recommends that Congress enact legislation to allow federal health and safety oversight of the firearms industry.4

Click here to view additional information about regulating junk guns, including background information and state and local laws on the topic.

  1. 15 U.S.C. § 2052(a)(1)(ii)(E), referencing 26 U.S.C. § 4181. []
  2. 18 U.S.C. § 925(d)(3). []
  3. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, & Firearms, U.S. Department of the Treasury, ATF Form 4590. []
  4. International Association of Chiefs of Police, Taking a Stand: Reducing Gun Violence in Our Communities 26 (Sept. 2007). []