Rifles with short barrels under 16"


Alan Fud
November 5, 2003, 12:05 AM
I was under the impression that federal law required rifles to have a barrel length of 16" or more. If that is the case, then how will Auto-Ordnance (http://www.tommygun.com/) be able to sell these Tommy Guns ...
... with a 10.5" barrel (http://www.tommygun.com/ao_m1sb.html) next year? Also, why/what does it mean that the gun will require a "$200 transfer fee"? Does that mean that you get placed on a special list somewhere? If that's the case, then maybe it's better to stick with the 16.5 inch barrel one ...
http://www.tommygun.com/images/M1.gif (http://www.tommygun.com/ao_m1.html)
... Although that short barrel model does look nice.

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November 5, 2003, 12:07 AM
It's a short-barrelled rifle, the National Firearms Act of 1934 applies, blah blah blah...

You can't blame this one on Clinton--thank FDR.

Alan Fud
November 5, 2003, 12:13 AM
I was under the impression that the National Firearms Act of 1934 banned such rifles. I guess I was mistaken. Do you have to go through special procedures / paperwork to buy one of these? And do you open yourself up to additonal regulations in owning one?

November 5, 2003, 12:30 AM
As far as I know the NFA of 1934 didn't ban anything.
It is perfectly legal to own a 10.5" barreled rifle. However, you must obtain a tax stamp for it since it is classified as a short barreled rifle by the NFA. You have to go through all the same proceedures you would to buy a suppressor or a machine gun. You need to get a sign-off by your local chief law enforcement officer, you need to be fingerprinted, you need to have your picture taken, you need to fill out some paperwork, you need to submit all this stuff to the ATF along with $200. They will run a full background check on you and assuming everything checks out, you will get one copy of your paperwork back with a $200 tax stamp in the corner.

This is all assuming that you are not prohibited from owning an SBR by local or state law.

Alan Fud
November 5, 2003, 12:38 AM
Thanks for the info.

November 5, 2003, 12:40 AM
The National Firearms Act of 1934 does not ban anything. After the act was passed, it was challenged in a case that went to the Supreme Court, with the argument of course being that it violated the Second Amendment. The Supereme Court ruled that the Act was constitutional because its measures only enabled the collection of a tax on certain weapons (short-barelled rifles/shotguns, machine guns, supressors, AOWs) but not did not otherwise restrict their sale or transfer. This $200 transfer fee is the tax that Auto Ordnance references. Note that NFA fees haven't changed since 1934, when $200 was worth a lot more than it was today. So while it passed constitutional muster under the guise of a tax, it's aim was clearly to keep people (even law-abiding people) from getting certain types of weapons. I've been told that just after the NFA was passed, if you bought a Thompson (the full-auto kind!) you paid more for the transfer fee than for the gun itself.

It's the Firearms Owner Protection Act (ha) of 1986 that bans new machineguns, but this of course has no effect on short-barrelled rifles/shotguns, supressors, or AOWs. You can't blame this one on Clinton, either. Thank (gasp) Ronald Reagan.

As far as whether the NFA counts as bona fide registration -- I do not know. Any Class III FFL should be able to tell you all you want to know about the purchase process.

November 5, 2003, 03:54 AM
Actually the NFA was challenged in 39. A guy name o' Miller got arrested for having a 17' barreled shotgun w/o the tax stamp. The judge at the trial level gave a one word opinion to the effect that the NFA conflicted with the 2nd amendment & was null & void. SCOTUS heard the case under very peculiar circumstances. Briefly (bad puns always intended) They heard agruments from the government. The defense did not file any briefs, let alone show up to argue the case, as it was on very short notice & the trial defense counsel was doing it pro bono.

SCOTUS remanded the case to the lower court, saying it was beneath their notice that short barreled shotguns were necessary to a well regulated militia & therefore the law didn't conflict. They didn't touch on machine guns or silencers or hear any testimony about how short barreled shotguns do have militia/military necessity. The justice who wrote the opinion was not well liked & his credibility was questionable, so Miller would be very easy to overturn if SCOTUS would ever hear another 2nd amendment challenge to the NFA.

But the NFA is simply a taxing measure. It bans nothing. It merely requires a tax stamp for possession. There are some hoops to get that stamp, such as sheriff approval, fbi check, etc...but anything from 7" barreled shotguns to 37.5mm cannons are legal to own if you go through the hassle & expense. & a registry of those taxed items is in BATF possession.

The GCA prevented any automatic firearms not on the NFA registry already from being added to it. The FOPA prevented any newly manufactured automatic firearms from being added to the registry, in essence creating de facto bans of items not already registered. However The Hughes Amendment to the FOPA was added in the last minutes before a vote on the FOPA & more or less was snuck in that way. It's wording is ambiguous but they interpret it to mean no newly manufactured machine guns. So it's a little unfair to blame Reagan for that one. Blame Hughes. He deserves it.

Coincidentally, in 1939 Miller was arrested for not having paid the $200 tax on that 17" barreled shotgun which would have sold for around $10. Silencers were also subject the $200 tax & that would bring the total price up to about $202, tax included. Helluva revenue raising measure, wasn't it?

& yes, there is a registry of NFA taxed items. However, the BATF is incompotent enough to have scrwed them up rather badly. I've heard that as much as 60% of the records are inaccurate &/or missing. Although the BATF swears they're 100%. So if you do purcahse any NFA weapons make damn sure you hang onto the paperwork, in case the BATF looses their copy & tries to charge you.

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