Is The Spas-12 Legal In Texas? A Detailed Look At The Law

The SPAS-12 is an interesting shotgun that often gets attention from firearms enthusiasts in Texas. With its unusual design and fully automatic firing mode, it’s understandable why some may be curious about the legality of owning a SPAS-12 in the Lone Star State.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: the SPAS-12 is legal in Texas if it was lawfully registered and acquired before May 19, 1986, when new machine guns were banned from civilian ownership. SPAS-12 shotguns made after that date cannot be legally owned by civilians in Texas.

What is the SPAS-12?

The SPAS-12 is a unique and versatile shotgun that has gained popularity among firearms enthusiasts and collectors. Developed in the late 1970s by the Italian company Franchi, the SPAS-12 stands for “Special Purpose Automatic Shotgun.”

It was designed to serve both military and law enforcement purposes, combining features of a semi-automatic and pump-action shotgun.

Overview and history of the SPAS-12 shotgun

The SPAS-12 gained significant attention for its innovative design and functionality. It featured a detachable box magazine, allowing for quick reloads and reducing the need for individual shells to be manually chambered.

The shotgun also had a folding stock, which enhanced its portability and made it easier to maneuver in tight spaces.

Initially, the SPAS-12 was marketed primarily to military and law enforcement agencies around the world. However, its unique features and distinct appearance caught the attention of civilian gun enthusiasts as well.

The shotgun became a popular choice among competitive shooters and collectors who appreciated its versatility and iconic design.

Details on features like the dual firing modes

One of the standout features of the SPAS-12 is its ability to switch between two firing modes: semi-automatic and pump-action. In semi-automatic mode, the shotgun can fire multiple rounds with each pull of the trigger, offering rapid-fire capabilities.

On the other hand, in pump-action mode, the shooter can manually cycle the action, chambering each round individually.

This dual firing mode capability made the SPAS-12 adaptable for different situations and preferences. In semi-automatic mode, it provided rapid follow-up shots, making it ideal for close-quarters combat or self-defense scenarios.

Alternatively, in pump-action mode, it offered increased reliability and control, allowing for precise shots and reduced recoil.

It is worth noting that the SPAS-12 was classified as a “destructive device” under the National Firearms Act in the United States. As a result, its ownership and transfer were subject to specific regulations and restrictions.

For more information on the legality of the SPAS-12 in Texas, it is advisable to consult the relevant state and federal laws or seek legal advice. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) website is also a valuable resource for understanding the regulations surrounding the SPAS-12 and other firearms.

Federal Laws Regarding the SPAS-12

The SPAS-12 is a popular semi-automatic shotgun that has gained attention from firearm enthusiasts and collectors. However, its legal status in Texas, as well as the rest of the United States, is subject to federal laws that regulate firearms.

Two key federal laws that pertain to the SPAS-12 are the National Firearms Act of 1934 and the Firearm Owners Protection Act of 1986.

National Firearms Act of 1934

The National Firearms Act (NFA) of 1934 was enacted to regulate certain firearms, including shotguns with a barrel length of less than 18 inches, such as the SPAS-12. Under the NFA, these firearms are classified as “short-barreled shotguns” (SBS) and are subject to certain restrictions.

To legally possess a SPAS-12 classified as an SBS, individuals must comply with specific requirements, such as paying a $200 tax and submitting an application to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

This process involves providing detailed personal information, including fingerprints and photographs, as well as obtaining the approval of the Chief Law Enforcement Officer in their jurisdiction.

It is important to note that while the possession and transfer of SPAS-12 shotguns classified as SBS are allowed under the NFA, they are heavily regulated and require compliance with federal laws. Violations of these laws can result in severe penalties, including fines and imprisonment.

Firearm Owners Protection Act of 1986

The Firearm Owners Protection Act (FOPA) of 1986 further regulates the possession and transfer of firearms, including the SPAS-12. One of the key provisions of the FOPA is the restriction on the transfer and possession of fully automatic firearms manufactured after May 19, 1986.

As the SPAS-12 is a semi-automatic shotgun, it does not fall under the category of fully automatic firearms restricted by the FOPA. However, it is essential to understand that the sale and transfer of the SPAS-12 are subject to federal and state regulations, including background checks and compliance with local laws.

Individuals interested in owning or acquiring a SPAS-12 should consult with an experienced firearms attorney or contact the ATF for specific guidance on compliance with federal laws. Additionally, it is crucial to be aware of any state or local laws that may further restrict the possession or use of the SPAS-12 in Texas or any other jurisdiction.

For more information on federal firearms laws and regulations, visit the official ATF website at

Texas State Laws on the SPAS-12

Texas bans on machine guns

In Texas, the possession, sale, and transfer of machine guns are strictly regulated. The state follows federal laws which classify machine guns as “Title II” firearms under the National Firearms Act (NFA).

This means that owning a machine gun requires compliance with certain regulations, including the payment of a $200 tax stamp and obtaining approval from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

However, it’s important to note that the SPAS-12 is not classified as a machine gun. The SPAS-12 is a semi-automatic shotgun, which means it fires one round with each pull of the trigger. It does not have the capability to fire in fully automatic mode.

As such, it falls under a different classification and is subject to different regulations.

Grandfathering of pre-1986 SPAS-12 shotguns

While Texas does have restrictions on certain firearms, including machine guns, there is no specific ban on the SPAS-12 shotgun. However, it is important to consider the age of the firearm.

Prior to 1986, there were no federal restrictions on the ownership of machine guns, including the SPAS-12. As a result, individuals who lawfully acquired and registered their SPAS-12 shotguns before the passage of the Firearm Owners Protection Act (FOPA) in 1986 may be exempt from certain regulations.

This is known as the “grandfather clause” which allows individuals who owned certain firearms prior to the enactment of new laws to continue possessing them. It is worth noting that these pre-1986 SPAS-12 shotguns are considered highly valuable and often command a premium in the firearms market.

If you are unsure about the legality of your SPAS-12 shotgun or any other firearm, it is always best to consult with an attorney or contact the local ATF office for guidance.

For more information on Texas firearms laws, you can visit the Texas Department of Public Safety website.

Registering a Grandfathered SPAS-12 in Texas

If you are a firearm enthusiast in Texas and happen to own a SPAS-12, you may be wondering about the legality of owning this unique and iconic shotgun. The SPAS-12 is a semi-automatic shotgun that was manufactured from 1979 to 2000.

While it is no longer in production, it remains a sought-after firearm for its distinctive design and features.

Finding proof of pre-1986 ownership

In order to legally possess a SPAS-12 in Texas, it must be classified as a “grandfathered” firearm. This means that the weapon must have been manufactured and lawfully owned before May 19, 1986, the date when the Firearm Owners Protection Act (FOPA) was enacted.

To prove that your SPAS-12 meets this requirement, you will need to provide documentation showing its pre-1986 ownership.

One way to find proof of pre-1986 ownership is to obtain a letter of authenticity from the manufacturer or a reputable firearms expert. This letter should confirm the manufacturing date of your SPAS-12 and certify that it was lawfully owned prior to the FOPA cutoff date.

This documentation is crucial when submitting your registration paperwork.

Submitting proper paperwork to the ATF

Once you have obtained the necessary documentation, you will need to submit the proper paperwork to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to register your grandfathered SPAS-12.

This process involves completing ATF Form 4, also known as the Application for Tax Paid Transfer and Registration of a Firearm.

The ATF Form 4 requires detailed information about both the firearm and the owner, including the make, model, and serial number of the SPAS-12, as well as your personal information and background check.

It is important to complete the form accurately and legibly to avoid any delays or complications in the registration process.

Additionally, you will need to submit a $200 tax payment along with your completed ATF Form 4. This tax payment is required for the transfer and registration of any Title II firearms, including the SPAS-12.

Once your paperwork and payment are received by the ATF, they will process your application and, if approved, issue you a tax stamp that serves as proof of registration.

It is important to note that the possession and transfer of Title II firearms, including the SPAS-12, are heavily regulated by federal law. Failure to comply with these regulations can result in severe penalties, including fines and imprisonment.

Therefore, it is crucial to follow all applicable laws and regulations when owning and registering a grandfathered SPAS-12 in Texas.

For more information and specific guidance on registering a grandfathered SPAS-12 in Texas, it is recommended to consult the ATF’s official website at They provide comprehensive resources and instructions to help firearm owners navigate the registration process and ensure compliance with the law.

Purchasing a SPAS-12 in Another State

If you’re interested in purchasing a SPAS-12 shotgun but live in Texas, you may be wondering if it’s possible to buy one from another state. While the laws surrounding the purchase and ownership of firearms can vary from state to state, there are some general guidelines to consider.

Interstate transfer laws

When it comes to purchasing a firearm from another state, you’ll need to adhere to both federal and state laws. The sale and transfer of firearms across state lines are regulated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the Gun Control Act of 1968.

Under federal law, the transfer of a firearm between individuals who reside in different states must go through a licensed firearms dealer. This means that if you want to purchase a SPAS-12 from another state, you’ll need to find a licensed dealer in Texas who is willing to facilitate the transfer.

It’s important to note that some states have additional requirements or restrictions when it comes to purchasing firearms from out of state. Before proceeding with any transaction, it’s crucial to familiarize yourself with the specific laws and regulations in both your home state and the state where the firearm is located.

ATF approval process

Once you’ve found a licensed dealer who is willing to facilitate the transfer, you’ll need to comply with the ATF’s approval process. This involves completing a Form 4473, which is the Firearms Transaction Record, and undergoing a background check.

The background check is conducted by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) and is designed to determine if the buyer is prohibited from possessing firearms. This includes individuals with felony convictions, domestic violence restraining orders, and certain mental health conditions, among other disqualifications.

It’s worth noting that the SPAS-12 is classified as a “Title I” firearm, meaning it is not subject to additional restrictions under the National Firearms Act (NFA). This simplifies the transfer process compared to NFA-regulated firearms such as suppressors or short-barreled rifles.

Before initiating the transfer process, it’s advisable to contact both the licensed dealer in the other state and a licensed dealer in Texas to ensure that all necessary paperwork and procedures are followed correctly.

They can provide guidance and answer any questions you may have regarding the interstate transfer of a SPAS-12 shotgun.

For more information on federal firearm laws and regulations, you can visit the ATF’s official website at


While the SPAS-12 is prohibited for civilian purchase and ownership in Texas if made after 1986, there is a path to legal ownership if you acquire a grandfathered shotgun made in 1985 or earlier. Proper registration with the ATF is critical, so be sure to do thorough research before attempting to purchase a SPAS-12. When in doubt, consult a lawyer familiar with Texas firearms law.

With the right paperwork and compliance with federal and state laws, it is possible for a civilian to legally own a SPAS-12 in Texas – but make sure to do your due diligence before pursuing ownership of this unique shotgun.

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