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The unique properties of the shotgun, such as large case capacity, large bore, and the lack of rifling, has led to the development of a large variety of specialty shells, ranging from novelties to high tech military rounds.

In the US, federal law prohibits shotguns from being capable of holding more than three shells including the round in the chamber when used for hunting migratory gamebirds such as doves, ducks, and geese. For other uses, a capacity of any number of shells is generally permitted. Most magazine-fed shotguns come with a removable magazine plug to limit capacity to 2, plus one in the chamber, for hunting migratory gamebirds. Certain states have restrictions on magazine capacity or design features under hunting or assault weapon laws. Shotguns intended for defensive use have barrels as short as 18 inches (46 cm) for private use (the minimum shotgun barrel length allowed by law in the United States without federal registration. Barrel lengths of less than 18 inches (46 cm) as measured from the breechface to the muzzle when the weapon is in battery, or have an overall length of less than 26 inches (66 cm) are classified as short barreled shotguns (SBS) under the 1934 National Firearms Act and are regulated. A similar short barreled weapon having a pistol grip may be classified as an AOW or "Any Other Weapon". A shotgun is defined as a weapon (with a buttstock) designed to be fired from the shoulder. The classification varies depending on how the weapon was originally manufactured. Shotguns used by military, police, and other government agencies are regulated under the National Firearms Act of 1934; however, they are exempt from transfer taxes. These weapons commonly have barrels as short as 12 to 14 inches (30 to 36 centimetres) so that they are easier to handle in confined spaces. Non-prohibited private citizens may own short-barreled shotguns by passing extensive background checks (state and local laws may be more restrictive) as well as paying a $200 federal tax and being issued a stamp. Defensive shotguns sometimes have no buttstock or will have a folding stock to reduce overall length even more when required. AOWs transfer with a $5 tax stamp from the BATFE.

Saskatchewan has been populated by various indigenous peoples of North America, including members of the Sarcee, Niitsitapi, Atsina, Cree, Saulteaux, Assiniboine (Nakoda), Lakota and Sioux. The first known European to enter Saskatchewan was Henry Kelsey in 1690, who travelled up the Saskatchewan River in hopes of trading fur with the region's indigenous peoples. The first permanent European settlement was a Hudson's Bay Company post at Cumberland House, founded in 1774 by Samuel Hearne. In 1762 the south of the province was part of the Spanish Louisiana until 1802. In 1803 the Louisiana Purchase transferred from France to the United States part of what is now Alberta and Saskatchewan. In 1818 it was ceded to the United Kingdom. Most of what is now Saskatchewan, though, was part of Rupert's Land and controlled by the Hudson's Bay Company, which claimed rights to all watersheds flowing into Hudson Bay, including the Saskatchewan River, Churchill, Assiniboine, Souris, and Qu'Appelle River systems. In the late 1850s and early 1860s, scientific expeditions led by John Palliser and Henry Youle Hind explored the prairie region of the province. In 1870, Canada acquired the Hudson's Bay Company's territories and formed the North-West Territories to administer the vast territory between British Columbia and Manitoba. The Crown also entered into a series of numbered treaties with the indigenous peoples of the area, which serve as the basis of the relationship between First Nations, as they are called today, and the Crown. Since the late twentieth century, land losses and inequities as a result of those treaties have been subject to negotiation for settlement between the First Nations in Saskatchewan and the federal government, in collaboration with provincial governments. In 1885, post-Confederation Canada's first "naval battle" was fought in Saskatchewan, when a steamship engaged the Mtis at Batoche in the North-West Rebellion. A seminal event in the history of what was to become Western Canada was the 1874 "March West" of the federal government's new North-West Mounted Police. Despite poor equipment and lack of provisions, the men on the march persevered and established a federal presence in the new territory. In 1876, following their defeat of United States Army forces at the Battle of the Little Bighorn in Montana Territory in the United States, the Lakota Chief Sitting Bull led several thousand of his people to Wood Mountain. Survivors and descendants founded Wood Mountain Reserve in 1914. European-Canadian settlement of the province started to take off as the Canadian Pacific Railway was built in the early 1880s, and the Canadian government divided up the land by the Dominion Land Survey and gave free land to any willing settlers. The North-West Mounted Police set up several posts and forts across Saskatchewan, including Fort Walsh in the Cypress Hills, and Wood Mountain Post in south-central Saskatchewan near the United States border. Many Mtis people, who had not been signatories to a treaty, had moved to the Southbranch Settlement and Prince Albert district north of present-day Saskatoon following the Red River Rebellion in Manitoba in 1870. In the early 1880s, the Canadian government refused to hear the Mtis' grievances, which stemmed from land-use issues. Finally, in 1885, the Mtis, led by Louis Riel, staged the North-West Rebellion and declared a provisional government. They were defeated by a Canadian militia brought to the Canadian prairies by the new Canadian Pacific Railway. Riel, who surrendered and was convicted of treason in a packed Regina courtroom, was hanged on November 16, 1885. Since then, the government has recognized the Mtis as an aboriginal people with status rights and provided them with various benefits.