Lead up to the passing of the NFA


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Gato MontÚs
February 2, 2013, 05:50 PM
Hey guys.

I was wondering if anyone could point me in the direction of some resources pertaining to the passing of the NFA in 1934. You know, who proposed it, people who argued for and against it and what those arguments were. I understand it as a bill that was designed to restrict so called "gangster weapons" from common acquisition, but beyond that basic premise I have little else.

Specifically I'm interested in how silencers got included in the bill. Since the NFA was designed to limit "gangster weapons" I had always assumed there was some clandestine use of silencers by the criminal element, only to find out through small snippets that in actuality it was out of fear of mass poaching during the Great Depression. THAT is something I'd love to get more insight on.

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kimbershot
February 2, 2013, 06:19 PM
best reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Firearms_Act

did read a book several yrs ago re the players. essentially--factions in gov. wanted to ban all guns. 2nd amendment came into play. powers that be negotiated how certain weapons would be dealt with--hence placating both sides of the issue. back in 1934--$200.00 was much $$. today--not so much--but just a pita.:barf:

Telekinesis
February 2, 2013, 06:59 PM
Yep, suppressors were included because of fears of poaching during the great depression. Besides the wiki page, I would suggest talking with some people on NFA specific web forums. NFA Talk is one of the forums I frequent and they have quite a few people who are very knowledgeable about both regulations and the history.

Another thing I've always thought was interesting was that originally handguns were included in the NFA, and thus SBRs and SBSs were added so that people couldn't just buy rifles and cut them down to create handguns. But women protested that they wouldn't be able to protect themselves if handguns were essentially banned, so handguns were removed from the NFA but strangely enough the SBRs and SBSs were left in.

Gato MontÚs
February 2, 2013, 08:01 PM
Forgot about NFATalk, have to check them out.

I've read the Wiki page, but unfortunately I didn't see anything related to the concerns of poaching with use of a suppressor. That whole thing boggles my mind, as if the man who is hurting enough to break the law and poach to feed his family has the spare change to purchase a suppressor (and have barrels threaded) in the first place.

Encoreman
February 4, 2013, 12:04 AM
I'm really surprised they haven't raised the fee to $2,000 to keep up with inflation.

Telekinesis
February 4, 2013, 12:34 AM
I'm really surprised they haven't raised the fee to $2,000 to keep up with inflation.

The $200 fee is written in the statute, a statute which hasn't seen major revision in almost 50 years. I doubt there are many legislators who care enough about it to bring up the tax and why it needs to be raised, and that's if they even know it exists.

Then in their next election, they would have to explain why they introduced legislation to increase taxes ten fold. That would be a very hard thing for a politician to do with very little return on his investment.

soloban
February 4, 2013, 01:24 AM
I heard suppressors were included because folks were shooting farmers cows and the farmer had no chance to run after em with the old double barreled side by side.

Gato MontÚs
February 4, 2013, 10:32 AM
^^^
Have a link to a primary source? It's accounts like this that I'm after.

Charger442
February 4, 2013, 11:47 AM
I'm really surprised they haven't raised the fee to $2,000 to keep up with inflation.

if it were revised for inflation, today the tax would be $3,425.

Prince Yamato
February 4, 2013, 03:07 PM
You can find it referenced in the original movie "Scarface" from the 1930s. The politicians in the movie kept talking about the need to stop the interstate transport of machine guns.

Jim K
February 5, 2013, 12:25 AM
The purported concern was with "gangster weapons" but as usual, that was a smokescreen. Homer Cummings, FDR's first Attorney General, hated guns and those who owned them for any purpose. In FDR's first term, the St. Valentine's Day Massacre in Chicago gave him the excuse he was waiting for, and legislation was immediately sent to Congress.

The rationale was that all guns either had or would at some time move in interstate commerce and that the government could use its authority in that area plus its taxing authority to control the gun traffic.

The administration bill, backed by FDR, imposed federal registration and transfer taxes on guns and ammunition and also required licensing of firearms dealers who would also have to pay a license fee (another tax). For a full understanding, remember that in 1934, a new Ford sedan cost $400.

IIRC, the tax on a machinegun was to be $5000, a handgun $1000, a rifle $500, a repeating shotgun $200 and a single or double shotgun $100. Ammunition was taxed at $10 each for a handgun cartridge, $5 for a rifle cartridge, $1 for a shotgun shell, and $.50 for a .22 cartridge.

After the bill got through Congress, it required registration and a transfer tax, but only for machineguns and weapons considered "sneaky" and "un-American", like disguised guns and silencers (suppressors as folks insist on calling them now), and the requirement for dealers in those things to be licensed.

That bill, the National Firearms Act, passed in 1934. The administration claimed that its great gun control law had ended the gangster era. In fact, another administration action, initiating repeal of Prohibition did that; the NFA had little to do with it.

In 1938, re-elected to a second term, FDR went back for another bite of the gun control apple, proposing the Federal Firearms Act. This time, he again used the interstate commerce clause and taxation to propose control over those guns that Congress had refused to include in the NFA. No tax was to be imposed on those guns (rifles, shotguns, and ordinary handguns) and the registration proposal went nowhere, but the licensed dealer system was expanded to cover all firearms, with separate categories for NFA firearms and FFA firearms. That meant two different sets of definitions and different legislative language, something that Congress tried to resolve, with only partial success, when the two laws were combined (as Title 1 (FFA) and Title II (NFA) in the Gun Control Act of 1968.

Note the idea of using the federal taxation authority as a means of control, something that would be done repeatedly thereafter, and the basis for all the volumes of federal licensing laws on the books today. Also note that the FDR administration, like the Obama administration, drew up the legislation first, and then waited for a convenient time to introduce it "in response to the tragedy."

One small point. As part of the administration propaganda for the FFA, FDR, whose legs were totally paralyzed, thought he condition was kept a secret from the American people, had himself taken to the Marine rifle range at Quantico, and laid on a mat. While the fawning press corps took pictures, he pretended to fire a National Match rifle, then flashed his famous smile. This, of course, was done to convince hunters and gun owners that FDR was their friend and was not out to ban guns. (They mostly forgot about those proposed taxes on rifles and ammunition four years earlier - never underestimate the stupidity of the American voter!)

If all this sounds very familiar, it is. Just a different president wanting to disarm the American people so he can ignore the Constitution and impose his rule.

Jim

Gato MontÚs
February 6, 2013, 05:12 PM
Thanks for the lengthy write up Jim. I wish that others understood the relationship of criminal activity and prohibition on consumable commodities.

I found in my research an interesting study about the actual use of silencers in crime and if restrictive measures against them are/were even warranted.

http://wcr.sonoma.edu/v08n2/44.clark/clark.pdf

Besides summing up that the connection between organized crime and silencer use is a myth, he talks a great deal about the lack of any substance regarding evidence for restrictions when the major measures of 34, 68 and 86 were passed; summing up why I can't find anything myself.

unspellable
February 16, 2013, 02:31 PM
I heard somewhere that iot was actually mopre the Red scare than crime that was a motivation.

I did run across an explanation of why smooth bored handguns (not sawed off shotguns) were included. Prior to all this a 10% tax was imposed on fiearms to fund conservation efforts. The makers of the marble game getter, in spite of the name, argued that their toy was an agriculteral implement for pest control and not a sporting arm and thus got an exemption from the tax. Later, with the NFA, the Gsme Getter was not a "regular firearm" and so fell under "other firearms". Thus the smooth bored handgun fell under NFA more or less by histroical accident rather than for any real reason.

Eat Beef
February 21, 2013, 03:04 PM
One must also take into account the social upheaval of the Great Depression. There were masses of unemployed people everywhere. Unions were coming of age, etc.

I mob of angry men with pitchforks and torches is a problem. A mob of angry men with Thompsons and BARs is an army.

Hence FDR's despicable actions.

gfanikf
February 21, 2013, 04:13 PM
One must also take into account the social upheaval of the Great Depression. There were masses of unemployed people everywhere. Unions were coming of age, etc.

I mob of angry men with pitchforks and torches is a problem. A mob of angry men with Thompsons and BARs is an army.

Hence FDR's despicable actions.
I doubt that. Let's be honest Thompson's and BARs sold horribly to the civilian market (Colt Monitor and Thompson).

You could always loot the National Guard Depot (like many criminals did), which would be far more likely how a group like you describe would have armed themselves.

razorback2003
February 21, 2013, 05:21 PM
I don't believe the NFA was really enforced on common people for a long long time. People brought back machine guns from WW2 and it was accepted as ok even though it was illegal.

Was the penalty when this law started in the 30's a felony like it is today for just violating NFA? And were normal people put in prison over this?


I'm curious when this was actually enforced on otherwise honest people.

Cosmoline
February 21, 2013, 05:30 PM
It was certainly enforced, though federal law enforcement was still in its infancy at that time. The FBI used gun control as part of the reason for its existence. The bandits of that era were used to prop up funding for the otherwise pointless post-Prohibition agency. For most of our history there really was no such thing as general federal criminal law. There were just some Marshals working for various federal judges and serving writs. Like you see in "True Grit," they only existed as de facto law enforcement in certain federal territories. Otherwise other than the revenue cutters and agents collecting tariffs there wasn't any federal enforcement presence. The feds had to justify their growth by creating more things to arrest people for. Gun control was one of these tactics, as was the war on drugs.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_v._Miller

And we came within a hair's breadth of losing handguns. The situation was far worse then than it is now. Far, far worse. FDR was a demigod to a lot Americans in a way Obama only wishes he could be. Ignorant hillbillies used to have his portrait up on the wall. Not to mention the fact that most of the states that now have shall-issue laws actively forbade the carrying of concealed handguns. Concealed handguns were seen as something criminal, deceptive. That view has only changed in our lifetimes.

Gato MontÚs
February 21, 2013, 07:08 PM
as is the war on drugs.

There, fixed it for ya!

I don't know if this is exclusive to the common American, but the atrocious lack of any kind of historical insight has lead to the same damn ridiculous garbage over and over and over again.

Prohibition -> Gangsters -> NFA

"Drug" Prohibition -> Gang(Bangers) -> More Gun Control

Eat Beef
February 22, 2013, 11:53 AM
deleted

Eat Beef
February 22, 2013, 11:58 AM
Quote:
I doubt that. Let's be honest Thompson's and BARs sold horribly to the civilian market (Colt Monitor and Thompson).

You could always loot the National Guard Depot (like many criminals did), which would be far more likely how a group like you describe would have armed themselves.

Doubt it all you like. I don't have the book at hand anymore, but this was one of the reasons stated. You post as if "our leaders" think or act logically. Tyrants fear those who they oppress.

Looting an Armory is a lot harder for folks without access to weaponry.

gfanikf
February 22, 2013, 12:18 PM
Quote:
I doubt that. Let's be honest Thompson's and BARs sold horribly to the civilian market (Colt Monitor and Thompson).

You could always loot the National Guard Depot (like many criminals did), which would be far more likely how a group like you describe would have armed themselves.

Doubt it all you like. I don't have the book at hand anymore, but this was one of the reasons stated. You post as if "our leaders" think or act logically. Tyrants fear those who they oppress.

Looting an Armory is a lot harder for folks without access to weaponry.
Doesn't mean it had any rational basis or logic to it. The idea of mass numbers of people being able to buy Colt Monitors and Thompson's in the middle of the Depression is silly.

Malachor6094636
February 27, 2013, 08:51 PM
Gato I have researching it since 1994. I can get you some documents for you if you want?

Gato MontÚs
February 28, 2013, 03:05 PM
Only if it means little work for you; I really have no need other than personal interest. And again, with special emphasis on suppressors, if anything exists on that at all.

Carl N. Brown
March 20, 2013, 02:16 PM
Bonnie and Clyde got their BARs from National Guard Armories.

John Dillinger stole Tommy guns from police stations,

Matters of fact. Perhaps the only case of a legal purchased machinegun used in crime was Machinegun Kelly. who used a gun bought for him by his wife.

Check out Clayton Cramer's article on the 1920 British Firearms Act. In 1995 when the 75 year lid on the internal deliberations was left under the Official Secrets Act. it was reviewed that the 1920 Act was based on fear that British vets of WWI returning to no jobs in Post war England would stage a Bolshevik revolution and overthrow the Crown.

I believe the 1934 NFA was motivated by the Bonus Army March on Washington by disgruntled US WWI vets, for much the same reasons as the British 1920 Act.

Carl N. Brown
March 20, 2013, 02:21 PM
BTW silencers were introduced by Maxim as a common firearms accessory in the early 1900s, for target shooting or pest control without the excess noise. They are used as legal accessories for such purposes in UK, France and Finland today. So the idea of poachers having silencers in the 1930s is not farfetched. They cost about as much to make as mufflers for small gas engines. The poacher's gun was far more expensive than an untaxed unregulated silencer.

Gato MontÚs
March 21, 2013, 07:36 PM
Fair enough, but I contest that anyone forced to break the law to feed their family is a) in a spot where the purchase of such an item, no matter how inexpensive, is unrealistic, not to mention the threading of barrels and a continual flow of ammunition, and b) is going to break the law without a suppressor anyway as law enforcement cannot be everywhere at once and they know that.

Liberal Anarchists were the Muslim terrorists of that period, so it is of no doubt that stripping the claws from the populous out of fear of that threat could and probably did play a part in it, but it still leaves us with nothing but speculation. The study I posted above kind of sums up why there is so little in terms of substance in the lead up to the NFA regarding silencers; there really isn't any. After lawmakers couldn't get handguns off the menu they threw silencers in there last minute for who knows why.

It's of interest to me as anytime I tell someone I'm waiting on a suppressor to come through I always get the question "why do you need THAT" like I'm some sort of murderer or nefarious character. I want to tell them what all went down eighty years ago, and to that point I can; last minute addition due to grossly unsupported fears of mass poaching during the great depression, in a time where people couldn't afford food much less ammunition and a silencer. In a time where there were so few DNR officers spread out across the country that someone could light off a howitzer multiple times in the middle of the night and no one would probably notice.

kBob
March 22, 2013, 08:13 AM
Gato,

In younger days as a student in Law Enforcement programs leading to an AA and BS in field, I had the opertunity to examine suppressed rifles that actually where used in poaching that had been siezed by the state game officials. None had threaded barrels. The suppressors were all made of common items (which I will not discuss)that could literally be picked out of the garbage and actually worked.

In Europe one of the most effective suppressors I saw had replacable baffels that each consisted of an object most Germans saw or even used every day.

Do not think that supressors have to be the finely machined, high priced things you see today in taxed trade.

The suppressor "ban" allowed the force of the federal government to be held over the head of any one caught using a suppressor for any reason regardless of how hard or expensive it was to make.

-kBob

HB
March 23, 2013, 07:05 AM
One could buy beltfed machine guns from a catalog at the time... It didnt take much to convince congress that "we" didn't need them.


HB

MAKster
March 24, 2013, 11:13 AM
When the Thompson first entered production in the early 20s it cost $200. That was incredibly expensive. A new Ford auto cost $400. The Thompson was a commercial failure and was only made in large quantities after it was adopted for use in WWII.

hentown
April 14, 2013, 09:59 AM
The NFA was simply another example of the airheads we've put in Congress over the years. You'll find most legislation that tramples the 2nd Amendment to originates in "Y" states, where individual freedoms have long been discounted.

There's absolutely no congent reason that we should have to jump through the hoops that we do, in order to own a suppressor. The fact that only those willing and able to spend a lot of money can currently buy machine guns is indicative of the same dolt mentality in 1986 that's existed since the Republic was born.

There was a mild skirmish in the mid-1860s, in which the United States claimed victory, after having lost 50% more casualties than it's opposition. That's the only time such a Pyrrhic victory has occurred involving the U.S. Using taxation to control "the unwashed masses," more specifically, those masses who now never vote DemocRATic, is what's been going on forever. It's really just that simple.

Midwest
April 14, 2013, 09:57 PM
There is an organization called the American Silencer Association. They have a neat page that lists the states where silencers are legal and what states allow hunting with them. I understand that Wyoming joined the list of states recently that allows hunting with silencers. I believe it is 28 out of 39 silencer states that allow silencer hunting. I believe some countries in Europe it is required to hunt with silencers.

http://americansilencerassociation.com/education/

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