What’s the Law: Ruger Charger pistol illegal?

WHAT’S THE LAW?

BY DARRYL CHOY

Topic: Ruger Charger Pistol… assault pistol revisited

Question: A few years, ago Ruger brought out the Charger pistol, essentially the 10/22 in a handgun configuration. A Honolulu dealer was able to register them at HPD, and they were sold. I heard later that HPD got the BATF to rule the Ruger Charger as an illegal short barrel rifle. But the Charger pistols that the dealer brought in prior were all “grandfathered” as legal.

Answer: The Ruger Charger is an assault pistol banned only in Hawaii. (see Sec. 134-1 and 134-8 HRS). It’s State law, and possession is a Class C felony. The penalty is 5 years in jail. BATF has nothing to do with ruling it’s a short rifle.

When that Ruger Charger came out, a few were brought in by some FFL dealers who were unaware of what constitutes an illegal assault pistol. Neither did HPD, and registration was allowed. Later, the buyers and the dealers were told the Charger is illegal and that they had to be turned in. Assault pistols are not grandfathered in unless duly registered before July 1992. But that Ruger Charger didn’t exist then. Laws can be enacted to prohibit possession of things that were lawful prior. But grandfathering is rare in contraband laws. The State could have banned all assault pistols regardless in 1992, but they didn’t. However, any such guns like the Charger post 1992 are illegal.

Making it past HPD registration doesn’t count. You are not home free. No grandfathering if the cops missed it. All HPD needed to do was cancel all the Charger registrations and request they be turned in. Failure to do so could prompt a visit by the SWAT team and a felony arrest. I am not aware what HPD actually did with the Chargers that were sold to the public. But all future sales are unlawful.

For details as to what constitutes an assault pistol, check out the aforementioned Sections of Chapter 134 HRS and refer to “What’s the Law” (Topic: Assault Pistols) in the January 2011 issue.

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