Is the Remington 870 TAC-14 Legal in Oregon? - Oregon Trial Attorneys

Is the Remington 870 TAC-14 Legal in Oregon?

There were Internet rumors in June of 2017 that the Oregon State Police was going to stop approving sales of the Remington 870 TAC-14. It looks like the rumors are true. On July 5th, 2017, OSP posted the following on their website:

July 5, 2017


As of Friday, June 30, 2017 the Oregon State Police Firearms Unit began
delaying the transfer of all Mossberg 590 Shockwaves and Remington 870 TAC-14s pending
a review by the Oregon Department of Justice regarding the legal status of such
firearms under Oregon law.

As you may know these firearms first came into the market in 2017 and the ATF
has advised that these firearms are eligible for transfer/possession under
federal law. However, recently a concern as to whether these firearms are also
eligible under Oregon statute has come into question. The Oregon Department of
Justice has committed to a speedy review and determination of the eligibility to
possess/import/transfer this type of firearm under state law. Oregon State Police
will provide an update as soon as a determination has been reached.

It is important to note that a delay in these instances is regarding the
firearm itself and may not pertain to the purchaser. Until further notice and
pending legal review, the OSP FICS Unit will provide a clear response to all
background check requests that the delay is related to the firearm only.

Thank you for your patience during the review of this important public safety

OSP Statement on Legality of Mossberg 590
Screenshot of OSP’s Statement on the legality of the Remington 870 TAC-14 posted July 5th, 2017.

What is the Remington 870 TAC-14?

Remington 870 TAC-14
Is the Remington 870 TAC-14 legal in Oregon?

Depending on how you define it, the Remington 870 TAC-14 is a firearm, a pistol, a shotgun, and a short-barreled shotgun. Clearly, it started its design life as a pump-action shotgun very similar in design to the classic Remington 870.

How is the Remington 870 TAC-14 any different
from other Remingtons in the 870 series?

What makes the TAC-14 different from previous Remington 870 models are two points:

  1. It doesn’t come with a stock at all, and
  2. The 14″ barrel length is in Short-Barreled Rifle (SBR) or Short Barrel Shotgun territory.

Normally, shotguns with a barrel length under 18″ are regulated by the National Firearms Act (NFA). This is the same act that regulates full-automatic firearms (aka “machine guns”), suppressors (aka “silencers”), firearms with an overall length under 26″, and rifles having a barrels less than 16″ in length (aka “short-barreled rifles”). See: 26 U.S.C. 5845; 27 CFR 479.11. But the Remington 870 TAC-14 is not regulated by the NFA. According to Federal definitions, the Remington 870 TAC-14 is a “firearm” under the Gun Control Act of 1968 (“GCA”) but not a “firearm” under the National Firearms Act (NFA). You can read the Mossberg Shockwave BATF letter for a more detailed explanation (the Mossberg 590 Shockwave is Mossberg’s competing 14-inch barreled pistol-grip shotgun).

Why is the Remington 870 TAC-14 Illegal in Oregon?

At the current time, it appears that the Remington 870 TAC-14 is of questionable legality in Oregon because it falls into a loophole. A loophole or gap exists between Federal definitions and State definitions of what is a “firearm,” “shotgun,” and a “short-barreled shotgun.”

As mentioned above, according to Federal definitions, the TAC-14 is not required to be registered or regulated by the NFA. But Oregon’s criminal laws are not bound by Federal definitions. What’s more confusing is that Oregon law references Federal registration of certain firearms as a defense (e.g. certain firearms are unlawful unless “…registered as required under federal law”). In other words, it’s of questionable legality to possess a shotgun with a barrel less than 18-inches in Oregon that has not been registered under the NFA because that’s the only affirmative defense to ORS 166.272 (which is a Class B felony). See ORS 166.210.

“Short-barreled shotgun” means a shotgun having one or more barrels less than 18 inches in length and any weapon made from a shotgun if the weapon has an overall length of less than 26 inches.

Is the Remington 870 TAC-14 a pistol, a shotgun, or both?

It’s interesting to note that Remington does not use the word “shotgun” in their advertising or marketing of the TAC-14. In fact, the weapon is not listed in the “shotguns” section or the “handguns” sections of their website. They simply list it under “Other Products.”

Remington 870 TAC-14 Illegal Oregon
Remington’s website refers to the 870 TAC-14 as an “other” product– not a shotgun or a pistol.

There’s an interesting argument to be made that a TAC-14 containing only slugs is a “handgun” under ORS 166.210(5).

“Handgun” means any pistol or revolver using a fixed cartridge containing a propellant charge, primer and projectile, and designed to be aimed or fired otherwise than from the shoulder. (emphasis added)

The problem is that this “firearm” is capable of firing slugs, buckshot, or even birdshot. Clearly its primary design is to fire buckshot for self-defense purposes. This isn’t a bird gun. This isn’t a deer gun. This is a self-defense pistol-gripped shotgun. Shotguns are firearms in Oregon, and short-barreled shotguns are per se illegal in Oregon.

After hearing the news that the Remington 870 TAC-14 may be illegal in Oregon, some very angry and vocal firearms enthusiasts have blamed Oregon’s democratic governor, Kate Brown. Candidly, this problem existed long before she took office because the definitions for various firearms were codified from 1977 to 2009. Gov. Brown assumed office in 2015, following Gov. John Kitzhaber’s resignation.

Other firearms enthusiasts are simply saying “Molon labe” in response to this problem. Their view is that it’s legal to posses a TAC-14 even if new purchases or transfers are illegal, and they openly challenge law enforcement to take action against the owners. Others take comfort in reading random opinions on the Internet as to the legality of this weapon. When they find someone that says it’s perfectly legal to buy a possess a TAC-14, they agree with it. Because it’s what they want to hear.

The fact of the matter is that violating the law could result in serious criminal charges. Until this issue is sorted out in the courts or through the Oregon legislature, buying or merely possessing a Remington 870 TAC-14 in Oregon could result in confiscation and criminal charges. Tread lightly.

Michael Romano is a Oregon criminal defense attorney, and this post is intended to be informative, but is not legal advice.

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