Ah the National Firearms Act of 1934, aka the NFA. An 87-year old piece of legislation that represents the first major federal gun control law in the history of the United States. Under the purview of the Act are the fun things in life, such as machine guns, suppressors, short-barreled rifles, short-barreled shotguns, things like grenades, and a vague class of firearms called “Any Other Weapons” aka AOWs. Pursuant to the tenets of the Act, those items are taxed to the tune of $200 each (a steep fee in 1934), and must be placed on the notorious National Firearms Registry and Transfer Record, aka the NFRTR.
For most of it’s history, the NFA operated under the radar of all but the most thorough gun control fetishists, as it only dealt with costly items that were the provenance of serious firearms collectors. Business in that sector was low, and the gun controllers didn’t give revising the NFA much of a priority.
To take a page from the meme community, – “Oh no, the normies know!” Yes, the NFA cat is out of the bag. Not only are more citizens aware of the fact that things like machine guns, suppressors, and so forth (barring state-level restrictions) are legal for citizen ownership, they are severely restricted by the NFA.
To some, it seems like an unnecessary burden and restriction on the Second Amendment. To others, the NFA seems like a good idea that needs to be expanded upon…
To Revise A Law, You Usually Need To Pass Another Law…
Even the most ardent gun control supporters have recognized that a true expansion of the NFA would require further legislation, signed by a compliant president, to revise the Act.
Most notably, on his cringey campaign website, Joseph Robinette Biden has called for an expansion of the NFA, citing the Act by name. His wish is to place so-called “assault weapons” under the NFA. Your AK-47, your AR-15, whichever black rifle you possess, would be required to be registered and taxed under an expanded NFA.
Of course, his wishlist was drafted prior to his installment as President of the United States. The hope was that a “blue wave” would place Democrats in control of Congress, by a fair majority. With a compliant legislature, an “NFA Modernization” would sail through and be rapidly signed into law.
Thankfully, at least on the legislature level, the majority proved to be rickety-slim at best, and with the sudden uptick in gun ownership, especially among Democrats, in 2020, a “proper” legislative gun control push has proven difficult.
So, with that in mind began the word games…
…Unless You Get Creative With The Linguistics.
For a long time, the NFA was relegated to niche status. Most gun owners didn’t know about it, or if they did, they usually mistakenly called it a “Class 3 License” or something similar. The general assumption on things like machine guns and suppressors was that it they were either illegal for citizen use, or something only the hardcore collectors were into. Up until the middle part of the last decade, the number of registered and legal suppressors in citizen hands was only a few hundred thousand.
With the popularization of the trust pathway to NFA item ownership, and of course the democratization of information access via the internet, the concepts of NFA item ownership became more and more widespread. Silencerco had it’s “Suppressors Are Legal” campaign running back in the day, even.
As NFA item popularity in the firearms community increased, so did efforts to repeal portions of the Act, or the entire Act itself. Famously, we came really close in 2017 to getting the Hearing Protection Act passed, which would have taken the NFA tax and bureaucratic hurdles away from suppressor ownership, relegating them to Title I status, which is to say purchasing a suppressor would have been no worse than purchasing a handgun. Pay for can, fill out 4473, wait for NICS, take can home.
The dirty secret of the NFA process is that there’s no “extensive vetting” as Bloomberg’s agitprop publication, The Trace, phrases it. You buy a suppressor or other NFA item, and other than verification of paperwork details, the only background check is NICS.
Unfortunately, our campaigns to deregulate suppressors, and streamline the NFA process in the interim bought the whole Act into the limelight. In one convenient package, everything a gun control aficionado wanted was already in place, albeit for certain weapons. Bureaucratic delays, a central registry, and a tax to discourage ownership.
Again, since revising the Act would require another Act, the gun control lobby decided to play linguistic games – and ironically it was started by “no better friend to the Second Amendment” – President Donald Trump.
After much controversy and wrangling, Trump’s executive order to reclassify bump stocks as machine guns took effect in March of 2019. The executive order changed nothing about the National Firearms Act itself, but instead used 157 pages of linguistic trickery to redefine the term ‘machine gun’ to include a piece of plastic that, in and of itself, wasn’t a firearm.
As was warned about, this was no mere bone thrown to the gun control lobby to shut them up – this kicked down the door to an alternative form of attack on our right to keep and bear arms.
If you can’t change the laws themselves, change the the definitions of the words that make up the law. If you ban oranges by law and don’t like apples, you’d have to normally pass a law banning apples. However, if you redefine the word ‘orange’ to include apples, because apples are round and maybe have a slightly acidic content, then you’ve banned apples because now an apple is an orange.
Confusing? Yes. And that’s where they’d get you.
Now, of course, Trump’s attack method on bump stocks is being utilized by the Biden regime to go after pistol-braced firearms. With a completely over-the-top and ridiculous points system, the ATF is proposing to redefine large pistols as short-barreled rifles, which would bring tens of millions of firearms under the purview of the National Firearms Act.
All without debate and voting in Congress.
And the gun control freaks love it. Again, the NFA is basically what they want for all firearms, and instead of revising the Act itself, they’re playing linguistic word games to get everything reclassified to fit the definitions in the NFA.
Oh The Poor ATF (sarcasm)
Reclassifying and playing word games to get all guns under the purview of the NFA is only part of it.
Right now, at current volumes, it takes anywhere from a few months to over a year to get your NFA paperwork approved, according to NFA Tracker. Whether it’s a Form 1 to build a short-barreled rifle, or a Form 4 to legally acquire a suppressor, it’s a bit of a wait. Mainly since the process is largely analog, with examiners in the ATF’s NFA office having to go through each packet by hand and verify the details. Again, the only “public safety” part is the NICS inquiry, which is what happens with any gun sold at retail in this country.
Having more items to deal with would crush an already overloaded system – and that’s the way they want it.
Here’s how it works. The National Firearms Act of 1934 is ostensibly a tax, to the tune of $200 per item. Since a wholesale ban on firearms could not be passed due to the pesky Second Amendment, the government used it’s (unfortunately Constitutional) power to tax, and the NFA was enacted. Prior to the ATF’s establishment, the NFA taxes were collected by the IRS, and they technically still are.
What happens when you pay for your tax stamp is the funds are collected by the IRS, and the rest of the paperwork is sent to the ATF’s NFA office in Martinsburg, West Virginia. NFA nerds will note that your NFA Forms and payment get sent to a PO Box in Portland, Oregon – which is maintained by the IRS. Only the IRS can collect taxes, after all. The funds collected go into the Treasury, and not to the ATF.
So, what we have here is the ATF lacks a motivation to process the Forms more efficiently. Some argue that the ATF is underfunded, and to be blunt, they should be underfunded – or not funded at all. Defund those cops – please!
But anyways, the pundits argue a properly-funded ATF would be able to handle the current crush of NFA requests, and a hypothetical increase if more firearms were reclassified as NFA items.
To be blunt, that’s bullshit. Anytime a government agency gets more funding, it’s squandered. You wouldn’t see the ATF get newer technology to streamline the NFA, you’d see new office furniture and all the hacks working for that agency driving BMWs and Cadillacs.
Why? Because an inefficient and expensive compliance process is exactly what they want. As long as the Second Amendment is in place, the government cannot outright ban the private ownership of firearms. However, even though it’s been established that a right delayed is a right denied, the government can and does throw up roadblocks to expediently exercising the right.
“Sure, you can have a gun – it’s your right – just fill out this form, pay the tax, and wait 1 year…”
This would turn off most people from the process entirely. As it stands right now, you have to pay for your NFA items up front. For example, a decent suppressor is say $800. Then you have to pay $200 plus any state and local taxes on top of that. $1000 up front and you can’t even take the item home for up to a year or more. Heck, I get fidgety if I have to wait more than 2 days for an Amazon package to show up. And I’m patient, according to some.
Plus, to add insult to injury, there’s proposed legislation out there to raise the NFA tax to $500, and subject it to a yearly adjustment based on various price indexes. Before one realizes it, the NFA tax is 100%.
But hey, the Second Amendment would still be in place, so technically you might have the right to keep and bear arms…
Compliance Would Be A Question
If most of the things or all of the things become NFA items, compliance by existing owners would be spotty at best, either by deliberate action or bureaucratic morass. As stated above, an NFA expansion would not include process upgrades. Assuming a compliance amnesty were granted, it would still leave tens of millions of gun owners in a lurch, turning them into felons, disqualifying them from future legal gun ownership, if discovered. Of course, this is by design – if the process is fraught with costs and bureaucracy, most people won’t participate. If you have 5 firearms, you’re on the hook for $2000 for compliance at today’s rates. Pay up, turn them in, or be a felon. To be blunt, the government doesn’t care which, since either way, they’re getting what they want. If you pay up, they get your cash and they can pick up your guns later. If you turn them in, same deal except you keep your money. If you go the hard route, they’ll try to find you and kill you just for owning a gun and having an opinion. Nice people we elected, huh?
When the National Firearms Act of 1934 was first drafted, it was ostensibly promoted as a way to curb so-called “gangster violence”, even though the gangsters mostly used semi-automatic rifles and pistols. Machine guns and the like were the low-hanging fruit that Ma and Pa Kettle were scared of. 99 percent of the guns in the nation as it stood were left alone, for the time being. The nuances of it being an egregious violation of the Second Amendment, were lost on most people, since by then, the government had already grown to be too powerful.
Remember, the original intent of the NFA was to encompass all guns – it took them 80-some-odd years, but through lies, linguistic trickery, and death threats, the government is finally circling back on that line of thought. They want to use the NFA to essentially ban the private possession of firearms in this nation. Once no one is buying guns, it’s easier to ban the practice.
We have to stop them. It’s that simple.
The best place to start is with the Firearms Policy Coalition and/or the NRA. And of course contact your legislators.
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Source link: https://regularguyguns.com/2021/07/24/The-National-Firearms-Act-Is-Out-Of-The-Bag/ by Regular Guy at regularguyguns.com