NFA Firearms Laws
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There are two sets of laws that control your NFA Gun Trust: Federal law and State law. The Federal laws that apply to firearms are found in two main places. The first place to look is in the Federal Statutes. The term “statutes” refers to the written laws that are passed by Congress. Even though Congress is continually passing gun laws, fortunately for us most gun laws have been grouped together into big packages called Acts. There are three main Acts for gun laws, The National Firearms Act (NFA), Gun Control Act (GCA), and the Firearm Owners Protection Act. The second place to look is in the Rules. “Rules” are interpretations of the statutes created by the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives (more commonly known as the ATF). To learn more about the Rule-Making process, click here. The State laws that regulate your NFA Gun Trust are found in your State’s Statutes. Unfortunately, most states don’t lump their gun laws together. A great place to find your state’s relevant gun statutes is on the NRA website.
The National Firearms Act (NFA) was passed in 1934 as an effort to deter gangsters (like Al Capone) from killing everyone and committing other violent crimes. The Feds reasoned that crime would go away if they taxed the guns used by the gangsters. The Act primarily imposed a $200 tax on machine guns, silencers, and sawed-off shotguns. It also required people to register machine guns, silencers, and sawed-off shotguns and made possession of unregistered items a felony.
The Gun Control Act (GCA) was passed in 1968 in response to the assassination of President Kennedy. The Act was designed to impose much stricter licensing and regulation of the firearms industry. The Act created new categories of firearms offenses and prohibited the sale of firearms or ammunition to felons and certain other people that are known as “prohibited persons.”
In 1982, a Senate subcommittee studied the 2nd Amendment and the people that were being prosecuted for firearms related crimes. The resulting report stated the more than 75% of the prosecutions coming from ATF arrests were “aimed at ordinary citizens who had neither criminal intent nor knowledge, but were enticed by agents into unknowing technical violations.”
In 1986, Congress responded to these unintended and undesirable results by passing the Firearm Owners Protection Act (FOPA).. The FOPA made it easier to purchase guns and ammunition and reduced the record keeping requirements of gun store owners. Additionally, because the ATF had been abusing their power (by repeatedly inspecting gun stores solely to harass them), the Act limited the ATF’s right to inspect gun stores’ record books to only one time per year. Unfortunately, in addition to the relaxed regulations found in the FOPA, the Act had some downfalls, including a ban on the sale of machine guns manufactured after 1986.
According to several sources, approximately 175,000 automatic firearms have been licensed by the ATF and evidence suggests that NONE of these weapons has ever been involved in a violent crime.
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