U.S. Justice Department’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Dismisses Terror Threat of Pistol Disguised as Pen

For Release:   Monday, November 17, 2003

Manufacturer Reported to Have Sold 4,000 “Pen Guns,” Brags “No One Will Know It’s A Pistol”

Washington, DC – The 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.]


Stinger Pengun


Stinger Pengun with 18-inch Sniper Barrel


Stinger Knifegun


Stinger Knifegun “ready to fire”




About the Violence Policy Center
The Violence Policy Center is a national educational organization working to stop gun death and injury. Follow the VPC on TwitterFacebook, and YouTube.

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