The quote of the day comes from an op-ed in the Washington Times. In it, Mark Houser and Matthew Larosiere discuss the inclusion of short barreled rifles and shotguns in the National Firearms Act of 1934. As originally written, the bill would have effectively banned all small concealable firearms and especially handguns. That was going too far for Congress and the handgun portion was stripped from the eventual bill that passed. However, they never got around to removing the language on minimum lengths for rifles and shotguns.
Having minimum lengths was necessary if you were going to ban handguns to prevent people from just cutting down a rifle or shotgun. However, once handguns were removed from the bill, it really served no purpose.
But even in 1934, exempting handguns from the NFA was necessary to secure sufficient support for its passage. And with the demise of the handgun ban, the minimum size rules now serve about the same function as a cancer-prone vestigial organ: They don’t accomplish anything useful, but they sure can get you into trouble.