Sporting Purpose – Just One of Many Problems with the 1968 Gun Control Act

By Jeff Knox

Signing of the Gun Control Act on 22 October in 1968 with President Lyndon B. Johnson
Signing of the Gun Control Act on 22 October in 1968 with President Lyndon B. Johnson

Buckeye, AZ –-( The term “sporting purpose” is imbedded throughout U.S. gun control laws, and its use is a violation of the Second Amendment.

That has been my position for decades. My brother Chris raised the issue in a speech before the Gun Rights Policy Conference some three years ago, and our dad Neal Knox was making an issue of the language in the 1980s.

The “sporting purpose” language has been a plank in federal gun laws dating back at least to the National Firearms Act of 1934. The 1968 Gun Control Act, down to its current incarnation, institutes broad restrictions and prohibitions on a variety of firearms and ammunition, then exempt items that are deemed to be “particularly suitable for sporting purposes,” or are primarily intended for “lawful sporting purposes.”

As Dad used to say, “the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights are not about Americans’ right to keep and bear sporting goods.”

The right to arms enumerated in the Constitution is about self-defense and self-determination, not about trap and skeet or taking game. It also sticks in the craw that much of the actual languages in our gun laws, including the “sporting purpose” clauses, appear to have been lifted verbatim from the German gun control laws of the late 1930s, during the run-up of Nazi power.

We all know how well those laws protected Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, and other minorities.

So, for over 30 years we have been calling for legislation to remove “sporting purpose” exemptions and repeal or change the laws so that the exemptions are unnecessary. Finally, on June 10, Representative Rob Bishop (R-UT) introduced H.R.2710, titled the Lawful Purpose and Self Defense Act” which, if passed and signed into law, would be the most sweeping reform of the Gun Control Act since Neal Knox’s gun de-control plan that became the Firearm Owners’ Protection Act of 1986.

Representative Rob Bishop want to remove the Sporting Purpose language.
Representative Rob Bishop want to remove the Sporting Purpose language.

Bishop’s bill accomplishes major reforms by simply swapping out a few words and phrases in the current law. The core involves replacing the idea of “sporting purposes” with the idea of “lawful purposes.” We’re thrilled to see it finally introduced. There is simply no room in the Second Amendment for the words “sporting purpose.” We’re also pleased with the timing, as it gives gunvoters a rallying point and presidential and congressional candidates something unambiguous to support or oppose leading into the 2016 elections.

The bill specifically addresses the problem of BATF redefining rifle ammunition as armor piercing handgun ammunition, by replacing “may be used in a handgun” with the more precise “designed and intended by the manufacturer or importer to be used in a handgun.” It goes on to clarify that not only are rifle and shotgun projectiles exempted, but also handgun projectiles that are “designed and intended for hunting, recreational, or competitive shooting,” even if they meet the statutory definition of armor piercing.

H.R.2710 addresses the issue of firearm and ammunition imports by removing the “sporting purpose” language and specifying that firearms and ammo which would be legal for sale and possession in the United States, are legal for importation.

The bill then takes on the problem of shotguns and large-caliber rifles which could, under strict interpretation of the National Firearms Act, be classified as “destructive devices” like mortars and artillery pieces. The current language places common items like shotguns with pistol grips, but no shoulder stock, at risk, but Bishop’s bill clearly exempts these items from NFA designation.

Finally Bishop’s bill simply strikes the word “sporting” from several sections of the GCA. In these instances, existing law uses the phrase; “lawful sporting purpose,” so striking the word “sporting” results in the term “lawful purpose,” a much more appropriate standard.

There will no doubt be some who will complain that this bill doesn’t go far enough in reforming, or completely repealing, the GCA, but it accomplishes a significant amount of improvement with just a few deletions and word substitutions. While the bill might not be perfect, it would represent a major step in the right direction and should enjoy broad support within the firearms community, and stiff opposition from anti-rights forces.

Although there is no serious chance that any pro-rights bill would be signed by the current president, we will be pushing for record votes on H.R.2710 in both the House and Senate, and asking presidential hopefuls where they stand on the legislation.

We encourage readers to contact their representatives to encourage them to cosponsor and push for action on H.R.2710.

You can reach your representative by going to, or calling the congressional switchboard at 202-224-3121.

The Firearms Coalition is a loose-knit coalition of individual Second Amendment activists, clubs and civil rights organizations. Founded by Neal Knox in 1984, the organization provides support to grassroots activists in the form of education, analysis of current issues, and with a historical perspective of the gun rights movement. The Firearms Coalition is a project of Neal Knox Associates, Manassas, VA. Visit:

  • 6 thoughts on “Sporting Purpose – Just One of Many Problems with the 1968 Gun Control Act

    1. “The most sweeping reform of the Gun Control Act since Neal Knox’s gun de-control plan that became the Firearm Owners’ Protection Act of 1986.”… Really. With FOPA of ’86, we now have a static amount of NFA firearms. All future imports and domestic manufacturing of NFA class weapons for sale to joe public have been restricted. A dealer can buy “samples” of post-86 NFA firearms to demonstrate to law enforcement agencies with the purpose of selling said firearms to them, but not to “joe public”. Where is the “win” to this…? It’s

      I’m still questioning to why I need to pay $200 tax, get finger printed, have my local deputy dog write a letter to explain to the feds of how much of an upstanding citizen I am, and to sign off on my paperwork for something that is guaranteed under the Bill of Rights. Same goes with concealed permits. Why do I need a permit for something that the 2nd says we all have without interference..?

      Because no one went to court in 1934 to fight the government lawyers, we now have several classes of firearms, an illegal tax, and new penalties for infringed rights with felonys.

      Over 70 people were burned alive because of an unpaid $200 tax. I guess life is cheap.

    2. As long as Communists and Rinos control the government I see no movement to advance laws to reinforce the meaning and purpose of the 2nd Amendment, and to correct laws that violate it. As the US moves increasingly faster towards a totalitarian government based on Communist doctrine, it is becoming evident to this grey bearded patriot that Americans face choices, of the same type the colonists did on April 19, 1775.

    3. The NFA, GCA, & that 1986 thing all need repealed in full. In my view, the only prohibition which would be lawful is on Chemicla, Biological, or Nuclear devices & weapons (however firearm projectiles made from depleted uranium would NOT be considered a nuclear device/weapon for this purpose).

    4. Lyndon B. Johnson (LBJ), along with the corrupt Earl Warren Supreme Court (including his nine justices of
      high treason!), Ted Kennedy, and various other career criminal politicians historically have been the curse,
      bane, and damnation of our nation now for over 50 years! Johnson deserved to be impeached and removed
      from high office! And bear in mind Barr McLellan’s 2003 book: “Blood, Money, and Power: How LBJ Killed
      JFK” and J. Evett Haley’s 1964 book: “A Texan Looks At Lyndon: A Study In Illegitimate Power.” No. We
      as a nation continue to pay for the high crimes of these political criminal traitors to date! Also, the late Senator
      Thomas Dodd (D) of Connecticut: framer of GCA ’68 who was censored by his own U.S. Senate peers for political
      corruption and abuse of power. Why do we never ever hear about this from the establishment controlled news
      media? Dodd had the Library of Congress translate the 1938 Nazi Weapon’s Law from German into English.
      This is the basis for GCA ’68. With all the talk about racism in America why are the historic roots of gun control/
      civilian disarmament being linked to racism totally suppressed, covered up, censored, and concealed? This is
      especially so by not only the deceitful news media, but likewise our government funded “controlled” socialist
      public schools, colleges, universities, and academia! Same for the cover up of LBJ’s alleged role in JFK’s
      November 22, 1963 assassination. And I don’t even need to delved into the Vietnam War (1961-1975) which
      was greatly escalated by both LBJ and then Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara. 58,000 American lives
      were sacrificed in this so called “no win war” in Southeast Asia. The Earl Warren Supreme Court itself was
      crooked, corrupt, immoral, and deceitful and is rightly to blame for the legacy of “empowering the criminal over
      the crime victim!” This of course set a dangerous precedent for American women nationwide. Again, why is
      this covered up? Both Bible reading (1962) and prayer (1963) were outlawed in our public schools via the
      Earl Warren Supreme Court. Today, over 50 years later, we easily see the legacy that brought about!

      In conclusion gun control/civilian disarmament, especially the damnable 1968 Federal Gun Control Act, which
      along with the BATF, rightly should be repealed and abolished. This constitutes class warfare and punitive
      harassment against American gun owners and should never ever been tolerated to begin with! Read my two
      online commentaries alluding to this injustice. They both include: “Anti-gun agenda is class warfare”: ADT:
      January 9th, 2009, and “The War on America’s gun owners”: ADT: August 3, 2009, respectively. Both remain
      archived in the Ashland Daily Tidings (Ashland, Oregon) at Enter into “search.”

      Pro-Second Amendment institutions which support private firearms ownership and remain non NRA affiliated:
      On the net:

      JPFO, Inc. “America’s Aggressive Civil Rights Organization” at JPFO has long exposed the racist
      roots of GCA ’68. Their online video: “No Guns For Blacks” is well worth the viewing.

      The John Birch Society in Appleton, Wisconsin at and, respectively.
      Though maligned, slandered, attacked, libeled, and demonized by the establishment news media for over 50
      years, The John Birch Society was telling the honest truth all along while the former (new media), was deliberately
      and deceitfully lying to the American public in collusion with our own government! The 1971 Berkley Gazette
      stated this about the late Robert Welch: founder and past president of The John Birch Society. “If your call him
      anything (Mr. Welch) call him correct.”

      The Constitution Party of Oregon at An honest alternative to both Socialist
      Party A. (Democrats) and Socialist Party B. (Republicans). The late Alabama Governor George C. Wallace
      correctly stated back in 1968: “There isn’t a dimes worth of difference between the Democrats and Republicans”.
      Like Robert Welch, George Wallace was right. Furthermore the Republicans took control of both Houses of
      Congress: House and Senate, back in 1994. They could have reversed the past abuses of Lyndon B. Johnson,
      the Earl Warren Supreme Court, including repeal of the 1968 Federal Gun Control Act and abolishing the
      BATF. However, they (Republicans) did absolutely nothing! It’s time for an honest third political party detached
      from the establishment elite!

    5. Fighting crime is ‘Sport’ for some politicians because they don’t take it seriously. All they do is further burden law abiding gun owners by passing more laws. Laws do not stop law breaking criminals. Politicians are playing a game of ‘semantics’ when they use terms like “Sporting Purpose”.

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