Firearms Lawyer Simon Munslow answers your legal questions.

The Adler lever-action shotgun


The Adler lever action shotgun promises to generate a considerable amount of interest amongst Australian shooters denied access to semi automatic and pump action shotguns.

Of course, there is nothing new about lever action shotguns. They played their part in the Wild West in the form of the Browning designed Winchester 1887/1901.

Remakes of this firearm have been produced at various times and quantities by ADI, Norinco and Chiappa. and they are specifically mentioned in the National Firearms Agreement.

I have never used one of these firearms, but have heard comments about reliability and feed issues, though this was not a reason why they were permitted, I believe they were permitted for a range of reasons, specifically:

THEY WERE ‘OFF THE RADAR’

I suspect that they were permitted for the same reason that pump action rifles were not banned – they did not feature in criminal activities and so were ‘off the radar’ as far as legislators were concerned.

THEY DID NOT LOOK TACTICAL

While ‘Tacticool’ sells a lot of firearms today, we must be careful to ensure that a firearm does not too closely resemble a military firearm or have an ‘anti personnel’ look, lest it offend the sensibilities of regulators. Witness the treatment of the Savage 110 BA in Western Australia, because the firearm happens to look a bit like a military sniper’s rifle (Loose Cannon 5 Feb 2015).

There can be no doubt that the pump action and semi automatic shotgun, particularly in its ‘riot gun’ configuration, violated these sensibilities.

Indeed, many sporting pump action shotguns were also marketed with two barrels, a sporting 28 inch barrel with variable choke and a second ‘riot’ barrel, and the easy manner in which these barrels could be interchanged served to further blur the boundary.

MAGAZINE CAPACITY

The other issue was magazine capacity.  My father had a Winchester 1200 (sold with a 28 inch vent rib ‘winchoke’ barrel and a plain riot barrel in the 1980’s.  The magazine capacity on Dad’s was limited because it was used for duck hunting, however the limitation, (from memory a piece of dowel) was easily removed, and if that increase in capacity was not satisfactory, an after market extension magazine would raise its capacity to 7-8 shots.

Where the Adler pushes boundaries is that it has a large (for a shotgun) magazine capacity of seven cartridges.  This is an interesting marketing decision, as it could easily have been marketed with a shorter magazine and avoided this issue.

SPEED OF FIRE

The other area where the Adler may differ from earlier lever action shotguns is in terms of speed of fire, in that newer, ‘non western’, lever action designs (witness the BLR, Winchester 88 and Sako) feature a much shorter lever throw, and thus slightly higher speed of fire.

However, the critical issue in respect to speed of fire of any firearm with a magazine, irrespective of whether it is a shotgun or rifle, is whether the shooter lowers it from their shoulder when reloading, so this is largely an irrelevancy.

CONCLUSION

It will be interesting to see how this firearm plays out. The Adler is not a ‘nasty black firearm’, it looks like what it is, a sporting gun. However, it has a magazine capacity that caused much angst at the time of the national firearms agreement, and those of us in the sport at the time no doubt recall John Howard’s refusal to allow the ‘crimping’ of shotgun magazines.

I suspect its short lever throw and just marginally faster rate of fire shall be a bit of a red herring, and that most states will sit back and see if there is an issue with this firearm before acting any action.

This is for information only, it does not constitute legal advice.  If needed seek an opinion dealing with your particular circumstances.  Reading this article does not give rise to a solicitor-client relationship.

 

 

 


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