Why are there so few transferable machine guns?


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kentucky7887
July 21, 2011, 05:01 PM
I was looking around and saw a post, on here i think, were it said that there were about 250,000 transferable guns. I guess I'm wondering why pre86 civilians would choose a semi auto ar15 style when for a little more they could of had a full auto? Before 86 there wasn't any type of mandatory registration for american made guns, correct? I would also think that possible gun control political debates would cause companies to stepped up production on items like lightening links (500 registered, i think?), and started to serialize peices of sheet metal for future guns (kinda like how the mac10/11)? Just so that they would still have an option for the public for a while. Anyone who was in the business maybe during that time could give me some more information about what was going on?

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Jorg Nysgerrig
July 21, 2011, 05:03 PM
Before 86 there wasn't any type of mandatory registration for american made guns, correct?
That is not correct, the registry started in 1934.

"We find many things to which the prohibition of them constitutes the only temptation." --William Hazlitt

AR15 style rifles weren't nearly as popular then and most people didn't seem to think it was worth the extra cost and hassle for full-auto at the time.

Shear_stress
July 21, 2011, 05:14 PM
Why are there so few transferable machine guns?

Short answer: $200 went a lot further back then.

I guess I'm wondering why pre86 civilians would choose a semi auto ar15 style when for a little more they could of had a full auto?

When it came to AR15s, there were far, far fewer options while the registry was still open compared to now. While not the only game in town, Colt produced nearly all the AR-15 rifles made up to 1986 and was known to cut off sales to any dealer who dared to sell a full-auto rifle to a non-law enforcement customer.

"We find many things to which the prohibition of them constitutes the only temptation." --William Hazlitt
So true.

kentucky7887
July 21, 2011, 05:45 PM
True I forgot about our good buddy, Inflation. I guess time frame wise I was thinking 85/1986. I

Its nice how the $200 tax stamp originally was a way to further restrict access. Wasn't a thompson around $250 originally and you could buy a new car for around $200-$500?

I wonder why colt would be strict about that with their dealers, figured they would want to sell as many as possible.

1KPerDay
July 21, 2011, 05:52 PM
They wanted to sell as many as possible to the right people.

H&K have been reputed by some to feel similarly.

Things may have changed since Colt's nearly went under...

Millwright
July 21, 2011, 06:06 PM
Thank former President G.H. Bush ! He signed the law "freezing" the population. So you've got an expanding demand for a fixed/declining number of articles. >MW

22-rimfire
July 21, 2011, 06:19 PM
I wonder why colt would be strict about that with their dealers, figured they would want to sell as many as possible

Colt did not want their name associated with gangsters and dropped production of the Thompson.

The cost has gone way up due to a market that has been controlled by the Federal Government. George H. W. Bush (Senior) was never a big fan of easy access to military grade firearms to civilians. He was the one that eliminated importation of the Uzi rifles from Israel by executive order as I recall. I think he is more respected after his presidency than during like Bill Clinton.

There was apparently never a huge market for full auto firearms in the US by civilians.

CapnMac
July 21, 2011, 06:20 PM
Actually, you will find the actor was Rep. William J. Hughes (D-N.J.) appending House Amendment 777 to H.R. 4332. Which was approved (if with some controversy) by Charlie Rangel who was chairing the proceedings.

Further the bill was subsequently passed and signed on May 19, 1986 by President Ronald Reagan to become Public Law 99-308, the Firearms Owners' Protection Act. 18 USC 121, if memory serves.

CapnMac
July 21, 2011, 06:33 PM
It's germane to this question that there were a large number of unregistered NFA arms out there. Enough that a single Amnesty was administered to try and rectify that situation for those with inheritances, war trophies, bring-backs, and the like.

Compounding that was the staggering ignorance of the scope of NFA and its application. Including a bit of apocrypha of a prominent DC politico who claimed the Reising he would boast of was a "DEWAT" due to his not having a working magazine for it.

Personally, I find the entire concept of the Vile Amendment defiles the intent of the 2nd Amendment, as voiced by Tench Coxe: "Their swords, and every other terrible implement of the soldier, are the birth-right of an American."

But, I know I'm biased in this.

AlexanderA
July 21, 2011, 06:43 PM
I wonder why colt would be strict about that with their dealers, figured they would want to sell as many as possible.

Keep in mind that in the 70's and 80's, Colt's bread and butter was government sales. Their civilian semiauto AR-15's were always the most "politically correct" on the market, even including features (such as sear blocks) that were not required by regulations. As an afterthought, they would sell full-auto M16's to Class III dealers, but with the understanding (unenforceable, of course) that these would be "sales samples" for law enforcement sales. I was a Class III dealer at the time, and the way it worked was this: you would place an order with a Colt distributor for a maximum of 2 guns -- one rifle and one carbine. These would be drop-shipped from the Colt factory directly to you. If you sold a gun to a law enforcement agency, well and good -- you'd forward copies of the ATF paperwork to Colt, and they would let you reorder another one of the same model. If, on the other hand, you sold to another dealer or to an individual (or kept the gun for yourself), you'd be out of luck and be frozen out of further purchases. So, the number of "real" Colt M16's available to civilians was no more than twice the total number of Class III dealers. That's not very many. At the same time, RIA (and others) were converting Sendra (and other) receivers to full-auto and selling them without restriction. (Subject to NFA rules, of course.)

kimberkid
July 21, 2011, 06:51 PM
Actually, you will find the actor was Rep. William J. Hughes (D-N.J.) appending House Amendment 777 to H.R. 4332. Which was approved (if with some controversy) by Charlie Rangel who was chairing the proceedings.

Further the bill was subsequently passed and signed on May 19, 1986 by President Ronald Reagan to become Public Law 99-308, the Firearms Owners' Protection Act. 18 USC 121, if memory serves.
Your memory serves you well ...

We can thank another Republican president, George H. W. Bush for the '89 import ban of military style firearms.

hso
July 21, 2011, 07:37 PM
Thank former President G.H. Bush ! He signed the law "freezing" the population.

G.H.Bush was POTUS from January 20, 1989 until January 20, 1993 while the registry was closed in 1986. Ronald Regan was POTUS at the time and signed the closure of the registry.

CapnMac
July 21, 2011, 07:50 PM
Reagan was in a bind. We needed the 7/8 good FOPA to end endemic abuses at the time.

However, I'm not sure we can make a case of FOPA now, not with 39 shall-issue states. FOPA only makes it legal for you travel unarmed in more-strict states. Which is quite a different definition than many multi-state reciprocity CHL holders might define "freedom."
Even when trying to travel legally, one can still be tripped up by local LE, as witnessed in NJ not so long ago.

To bring this back to topic, since FOPA stands somewhat in the way of national CCW reciprocity, perhaps that is a way to cast out the Vile Amendment to where it belongs, with the AWB in the ash heap of history.

CapnMac
July 21, 2011, 07:57 PM
Presidents get pressured to do all sorts of things, without regard to their party affiliation.
GHWB was up against the early agitation for the AWB, politically, he gave them a bone, a scrap, in foreign weapons.

And it hurt, I really wanted one of those .22lr FAMAS Clarions.

WJC came back and banned PRC imports. Now, there is a cynical view that was to deflect the heat the Administration was getting vis a vis relations with PRC. Only history will eventually say.

GWB goobered at least once, too; not that I can remember how just now.

SpentCasing
July 21, 2011, 11:22 PM
GWB goobered at least once, too; not that I can remember how just now.

Barrel ban. :fire::banghead:

kimberkid
July 22, 2011, 09:44 AM
Barrel ban. :fire::banghead:
Barrel ban was enacted by Clinton in 97 it just hadn't been enforced ... it was in that same bill which eliminated the the thumb-hole stock as sporting purpose and a bunch of other stuff.

It was under Bush (the younger) that the ATF started enforcing it but I don't think it had anything to do with GW ... I wish my remembery retained more specifics, but I do remember that!

SpentCasing
July 22, 2011, 02:54 PM
Barrel ban was enacted by Clinton in 97 it just hadn't been enforced ... it was in that same bill which eliminated the the thumb-hole stock as sporting purpose and a bunch of other stuff.

It was under Bush (the younger) that the ATF started enforcing it but I don't think it had anything to do with GW ... I wish my remembery retained more specifics, but I do remember that!

I stand corrected. Thank you.

Zoogster
July 22, 2011, 05:59 PM
A few reasons.

Prominent among them is that $200 used to be significant. A $200 tax was close to the new cost of a Thompson. A nice pre-war Thompson was quite an expensive firearm at the time. These were the ones typically seen with barrel fins. By 1928 it was around $225.

By comparison an M3 grease gun price around WW2, over a decade later, was about $20.
So the tax stamp alone cost 10x what the inexpensive full auto of the time cost even after 10 years of inflation.

Compare that to the cost of a new MAC-10 the more modern inexpensive firearm before the close of the registry. Around 1980 the price of a brand new full auto Mac-10 was around $200-$250. (Consider a semi-auto version is about a $500 gun today, about the same price of the full auto version without the artificially restricted market.)
So the tax stamp still doubled the price of such a firearm in 1980.




A second major reason is many people are untrusting of government registration, even more so in previous times. Registration around the world has often preceded confiscation. Or results in easy confiscation when the new legislation further restricts previously registered firearms in ways many owners are unable to comply with.
Registration of standard firearms in most of the country was quite rare and is still rare, but was even more rare before the close of the machinegun registry in 1986. Standard firearms were sold no differently than tools at your hardware store in many places until 1968. Mail order catalogs were common. You could mail order surplus Lahti 20mm rifles for little more than the cost of a standard hunting rifle (before 1968 when the 1934 NFA was amended with the Destructive Device category.)
Except for the NFA. The NFA was one of the few registries where you could sign up as a known threat with the government.
Today people have become more familiar with signing up with the government as a firearm owner, in many thanks to CCW, where signing up to carry a gun is standard.
People have become more accustomed to formalities and forms with firearms today than they used to be. What many would have been uncomfortable doing before the 1980s they will readily do today.
Which is another reason far more people readily purchase other NFA items than in years past.


A third reason was many CLEO would not sign off on a machinegun purchase. You couldn't just look up a way around that on the internet back then, and that stopped many people cold. Chief law enforcement officer of your area didn't want you having a machinegun and you didn't get to have one.

Also consider that the NFA was for all intents originally meant as a ban. Back in a time when Congress believed it had no legal right under the Constitution to ban anything under the commerce clause, only to regulate trade.
So they banned by placing a tax almost nobody would pay, and most wouldn't even know about.
Consider for example they also banned a drug, Marijuana, the same way. With the Marihuana Tax Act, requiring essentially the same thing as required by the NFA. (Marijuana was legal up until almost WW2.)
The purpose of either tax stamp requirement was not to simply have people paying a fee and continuing to trade in the product Congress intentionally targeted.
No the purpose of the stamps was to ride society of legal trade all together, and provide a means to arrest people and put them into prison for possessing or trading the targeted product.

So consider that. It was not just a formal process you went through as it is viewed today, it was a ban at a time government could not simply ban outright, and carried a criminal stigma of suspicion for a regular person to even try to go through the process.
Signing up as a registered machinegun owner was akin to signing up as a criminal to keep an eye on with the federal government by going through a process they didn't want normal people to go through.
That would change over time, and an increasing number of regular people would go go through the NFA process. But when originally enacted and for some years afterwards you would be highly suspicious and akin to a bad guy by trying to have such a firearm.

Quiet
July 22, 2011, 11:46 PM
The Gun Control Act of 1968 also prohibited the importation of MGs for civilian sales (importation is legal for Gov/Mil/LE agency sales).

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