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What led to the enactment of the Firearm Owners Protection Act of 1986?

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by 2agunner, Sep 11, 2018.

  1. 2agunner

    2agunner Member

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    What was going on in the country at that time? Why did it happen in 1986?

    Was there a specific event or series of events that to FOPA becoming federal law?

    What did the NRA and other pro-gun organizations do or not do regarding the passage of FOPA?
     
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  2. John_R

    John_R Member

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  3. Carl N. Brown

    Carl N. Brown Member

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    The FOPA 1986 eliminated a lot of federal restrictions of the 1968 Gun Control Act that even ATF admitted were impacting mostly traditional lawful use of guns without impacting criminal violence. Such as, the restriction of ammo sales to licensed dealers required to keep a bound book record of purchasers. FOPA established that if it was legal to have a gun in state A and you were on a trip to state D where it was legal for you to own a gun (say, going to hunt in Maine), you were free to travel if your gun was cased, unloaded and locked in your vehicle when passing through states B or C with more restrictive laws (say, Massachusetts). The 1968 GCA banned all military surplus imports - that was repealed.

    The Hughes Amendment was slipped in at the last minute freezing the NFA machinegun registry. To those affected, that is the totality of the FOPA and they hate FOPA. I remember the 1968-1986 years and would not want to go back even if it meant I could Form 1 a Sten build.

    The Hughes Amendment itself is a monument to Gun Control as an ideology. Even Adam Winkler admits no registered machinegun has ever been used in a crime of violence by a civilian owner. The fact that gun control advocates defend it vehemently is an object lesson in the stuck-on-stupidness of most gun control.
     
  4. AlexanderA
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    AlexanderA Member

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    The other reforms in FOPA were of marginal benefit, but the Hughes Amendment was a killer. The NRA should have urged Reagan to veto the bill as presented to him, and then tried again later with a clean slate. The NRA had too much political capital invested in the bill, and so they accepted it with the Hughes "poison pill." Big mistake. We may never be able to undo the damage of Hughes.

    Without Hughes, machine guns would be as common today as suppressors and SBR's.
     
  5. 2agunner

    2agunner Member

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    I'm not sure what the NRA views as their primary mission, but that was a huge compromise and blow to the pro-gun community that should have never happened. Shame on you NRA.

    Therefore, it should be the NRA's agenda to fix what they allowed to happen because the NRA more than anybody should understand the dangers and reality of the slippery slope regarding the 2nd amendment.

    In other words, do it right the first time, so you don't have to fix your mistakes, if that's even a concern for the NRA.
     
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  6. SunnySlopes

    SunnySlopes Member

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    "May" implies the chance of repealing it. It will never be repealed. I always figured Reagan must have had a private collection of full auto and wanted to see their value increase exponentially. It was a horrible blow to the 2nd Amendment, to the intent of our founding fathers, and to gun owners for all time. The harm that FOPA did, IMO, completely negated whatever benefits we thought we'd gain.
     
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  7. denton

    denton Member

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    Here is the base document that explains it all.

    http://www.guncite.com/journals/hardfopa.html

    I doubt that we are going to ever get any relief on the Hughes Amendment. That was an issue when Heller was argued, and Gura took a little flack for not trying to get machine guns in under the protected firearm definition. He was quick to point out that if he had tried that, the case would have failed. Scalia gave us the strongest opinion that he could, and still get 5 votes. So there probably won't be any relief from SCOTUS, and I don't think Congress has much will to fix it.
     
  8. Mike OTDP

    Mike OTDP Member

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    Overall, FOPA was a big step forward. People forget how much of a PITA it was not to be able to buy ammo by mail...the entire Internet ammo business could not have been created without it. Reopening importation of MILSURP was big. Very big.

    As for the MG ban, I think it is repealable. At least in part. Consider:
    1. We know the NFA Transfer Registry is flawed. Use of the amnesty authority to run a re-registration period would make good sense.
    2. Optics are important. You pitch this as a back-door effort to kill the value of MGs as investments and make them something nobody wants to bother with...the way they were before 1986. The "Machine Gun Market Destruction Act" will sell.
     
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  9. tarosean

    tarosean Member

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    I thought it was around 7-8 incidences of violence w/ two murders. I remember a cop taking someone out with a Mac some years ago.. Don't remember the details on the others though.
    Course even if that number is higher, its quite trivial compared to other violent crimes committed with guns.
     
  10. jmorris

    jmorris Member

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    That is the “slippery slope” as they say. Also known as divide and conquer.

    “Who cares about machineguns?” They say.

    “Who cares about ‘assault rifles’?” They say.

    “Who cares about more than 10 rounds?” They say.

    “Who cares about hand guns?” They say.

    “Who cares about ‘sniper rifles’? (aka a bolt actin center fire) They say.

    “Hey, why do you want to take away my over-under shotgun? And everyone else that would have cared is already gone.
     
  11. taliv

    taliv Moderator

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    Don’t forget that the nra in the 80s were 95% fudds. They hated black guns. Thought nobody should own them. Talk to dudes on the High power line in the 2000s and they’d tell you same thing while shooting their ar15 service rifle. Nobody needs more than 10 rounds. Bill ruger was not alone.
    Resistance to Clinton assault weapon ban was just like Obamacare. They’d say they’re against it when they’re out of power and if you vote them in they’ll repeal it. But when you vote them in nothing changes because they’re not really against it.

    So they did pretty much focus on hunters and the nra sports which is how you get the sporting purposes nonsense that totally conflicts with the 2a cause nobody in the nra cared about the 2a back then.
     
  12. Arizona_Mike

    Arizona_Mike Member

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    I would like to know if people commenting here own a machine gun (I do).

    I enjoy being able to buy ammo without a form 4473. I enjoy being allowed to order ammo by mail. I enjoy being able to possess more than 5 lb of black powder at a time (50lb). I've taken advantage of the travel provision both by car and Airline more times than I can count. I am grateful for the prohibitions against record keeping. I'm also grateful that the ATF can't request a compliance inspection more than once a year. They used to drown people they didn't like in compliance inspections.

    All in all I'm grateful for the FOPA with all its flaws

    Mike
     
  13. taliv

    taliv Moderator

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    (I’ve owned several including an m60)
     
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  14. JohnKSa

    JohnKSa Moderator Staff Member

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    The NRA cared a good deal about the second amendment during the 1980s, and they were against the Hughes amendment. While it is true that they did not outright campaign to kill the FOPA once the Hughes "poison pill" was added to it, it is also true that they fought unsuccessfully to get it removed before passage and also to get that amendment repealed after passage. They were also, perhaps, overly optimistic about the possibility of having the Hughes amendment overturned in the courts later. They did support a challenge of the amendment but the case was lost.

    These days, gun owners almost invariably have no idea of all of the positive changes it actually made or just how much they have benefited from it. This is a fairly complete list of the provisions of the 1986 FOPA.
    • Makes gun shows viable. The provisions of the FOPA allow Federal Firearms License holders to sell guns at gun shows located in their home state as opposed to only at their place of business.
    • Allows individuals not federally licensed as gun dealers to sell their personal firearms as a hobby, not a business, without involving an FFL. Persons making occasional sales or selling all or part of a "personal collection" are expressly excluded from the FFL requirement.
    • Clearly defines the criteria that would require a person to have an FFL, thus preventing the BATF from making their own rules. It states that a person who is required to have an FFL must devote time, attention and labor to such dealing as a regular course of trade or business, with the principal objective of livelihood and profit through the repetitive purchase and resale of firearms.
    • Reduces the recordkeeping required of federally licensed firearms dealers, specifically eliminating recordkeeping of ammunition sales. Prior to the passage of FOPA dealers had to keep track of ammunition sales in much the same way that they are still required track of firearm sales. Ammunition purchasers had to fill out a form or sign a registry to purchase ammunition.
    • Repeals the portion of the 1968 Gun Control act prohibiting the sale of ammunition via mail order.
    • Allows non-FFL holders to sell ammunition by eliminating the FFL requirement for ammunition sales.
    • Allows the importation of non-sporting military surplus type firearms once again.
    • Re-Opened interstate sales of long guns on a limited basis.
    • Prevents the creation of a registry by the federal government or any of its agencies linking non-NFA firearms to owners.
    • Prevents the government from creating a list of gun owners or firearms transactions from dealer records.
    • Allows a citizen to transport a firearm from one legal location to another even if the trip requires passing through a jurisdiction where the firearm was illegal. (Safe Passage Law.)
    • Raises the burden of proof for violations of federal gun laws considerably, typically requiring proof of intent, not just the existence of a violation. One congressman noted at the time of FOPA passage that around 75% of federal firearms violations at the time were committed by persons “lacking the criminal intent” that FOPA required upon passage. That percentage of violations was also assessed as “constitutionally improper”.
    • Restricts the ability of the BATF to conduct inspections of the business premises of federally licensed firearms dealers and prescribes the maximum frequency of inspections. Prior to this restriction BATF could inspect dealers as often as they wished and some dealers claimed they were driven out of business by repeated inspections which prevented them from doing business. After the FOPA was passed the BATF is limited to 1 inspection per year with a followup unless there is a clear pattern of violations.
    • Places limits on when an FFL’s records may be seized by the BATF.
    • Places limits on when firearms or ammunition from an FFL’s inventory may be seized and how long they can be held without commencement of judicial action.
    • Downgrades recordkeeping errors made by FFLs from felonies to misdemeanors.
    • Expands the rights of FFL holders during an appeal.
    • Provides that an FFL holder’s license may not be revoked based on any criminal allegations where there was a criminal prosecution and the FFL holder was acquitted or the charges were dismissed.
    • Requires that the government pay a defendant’s attorney’s fees under certain circumstances in federal firearm related cases.
    • Clearly defines a “prohibited person” and adds serious drug offenses to the list of crimes receiving enhanced penalties.
    • Provides a means for prohibited persons to get relief of their disability by applying to the Treasury Secretary. Unfortunately this has been largely hamstrung because the program is unfunded.
    • Makes it illegal for anyone, not just an FFL to transfer a firearm to a prohibited person.
    • Prohibits civilians from possessing full-auto firearms manufactured after May 19, 1986.
    • Doubles the penalties for use of a machine gun or silencer in a violent federal felony.
    • Expands the definition of 'machine gun' to include those sets of parts or parts that could be used to convert a semiautomatic firearm into a machine gun.
     
  15. SunnySlopes

    SunnySlopes Member

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    Those of you favoring the above mentioned amendment: it violates the intention of the 2nd amendment. Our founding fathers fully intended for the citizenry to be able to protect ourselves from a totalitarian government. That necessitated citizens owning firearms/firepower equal to the jack boot thugs.

    Reagan eliminated the possibility that the average citizen would ever be able to afford the firepower necessary to defend himself should the worst ever happen.

    But, as long as you're happy .....................
     
  16. 2agunner

    2agunner Member

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    1986 FOPA did some great things, but as a whole it was two steps forward and one step back.

    Look at all the great things we are "allowing", so it's reasonable that you accept "XYZ". Terrible tactics.

    1986 FOPA should have never passed as written because that one step back, we will never get back.
     
  17. jmorris

    jmorris Member

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    I do, would own more though if I could still form 1 them.
     
  18. Elkins45

    Elkins45 Member

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    Was this illegal before FOPA? At least in my state I didn't think there was ever a prohibition against private sales.
     
  19. BSA1

    BSA1 Member

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    To truly understand the passage of the FOPA of 1986 you need to understand the famous "Revolt at Cincinnati" that occurred at the NRA Convention in 1977. Briefly Neil Knox, Harlon Carter and a committed group on members transformed the NRA from a non-political sportsman shooting organization to the political powerhouse it is today.

    If the Revolt at Cincinnati had not taken place the FOPA of 1986 would never had happened. In fact gun ownership in America would have been more and more restricted with us closely following England and Australia laws.

    When folks complain about the NRA been too political (such as we read here on THR) think about if they really understand what happened and what they are really mean. It is important to remember that just because someone owns a gun doesn't mean they believe you should own one.

    The NRA and those of us that support removing restrictions on gun control have learned a lot of painful lessons over the years. The old generation of politicians like Ronald Reagan, Bob Dole could not be trusted to completely support gun ownership. RHINO's became something familiar. Remember the Brady Bill in 1993? President Reagan support passage of the Brady Bill.

    Wars are not won on a single battle. We have lost on some but mostly gained on most issues.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/poli...c62288-59b9-11e2-88d0-c4cf65c3ad15_story.html
     
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  20. AlexanderA
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    AlexanderA Member

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    I would comment in detail on the provisions, but suffice it to say, as someone who had an FFL prior to FOPA, that we had found workarounds for most of the problems. As a matter of fact, the supposed "bright line" criteria for licensing under FOPA made it much harder for "kitchen table" FFL's. The primary beneficiaries of FOPA were brick-and-mortar gun shops.
     
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  21. boom boom

    boom boom Member

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    As someone who was involved in politics at the time, there are several misconceptions about the legislative process. First, while the Senate was Republican until 1987, the House was held by large majorities by Democrats. William J. Hughes (NJ) was the chair of the House Judiciary Subcmte on Crime. and was a political ally of House Judiciary Chair Peter Rodino (NJ). The House Judiciary nor the Dem Leadership of the House was not going to budge on the Hughes Amendment in conference on the bill as both Hughes and Rodino were anti-gun as was House Speaker Tip O Neill (close friend of the Kennedys). The NRA was blindsided but felt that FOPA's benefits outweighed the costs and that the rare opportunity for a new law rolling back some older issues was more important than restricting new machine gun manufacturing. Some here disagree, others don't.

    What is true is that if FOPA had not been signed, there would have probably been no law passed. GHWB Bush was not pro gun and faced a Dem majority in both houses anyway. Bill Clinton was not pro-gun nor really was GWB (remember he supported reinstatement of the AWB when it expired). While the failure of FOPA would have benefited those wanting fully automatic weapons, it would have hurt others as JohnKSa mentions. That is also assuming that the Dems would not have done something like the Hughes Amendment during the GHWB Bush or Clinton years. It is most probable that either one of those presidents would have signed such legislation.

    Remember the genesis of the machine gun law was not FOPA, but the NFA act in the 1930's as modified by the GCA act of 1968. The 1968 Act allowed the executive branch to limit much of the importation of foreign military arms with the requirement of "sporting purposes." GHWB used this to restrict such imports by executive order in his presidency which was later buttressed the 1994 AWB.
     
  22. 2agunner

    2agunner Member

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    Very interesting Washington Post article, thanks for the link.

    Scare tactics are used. If you don't pass this legislation right now as written, things will be even a lot worse.

    One of the saddest parts of the article was about the NRA not truly advocating and no rhetoric regarding a no compromise stance on the 2nd Amendment. The NRA doesn't care about the 2nd Amendment, but instead only about controversy to increase membership/revenue. I guess to the NRA, the 2nd Amendment is for sale.

    What does that say about the future of our country and the 2nd Amendment. Not good.
     
  23. GRIZ22

    GRIZ22 Member

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    I think Reagan looked at it this way. I can protect millions of gunowners with FOPA. Milsurps that have been banned since 1968 can be imported. Gunowners selling off their collections for a profit can't be charged with engaging in the business without a FFL. People will be able to order ammo and have it delivered straight to them. Many other problems solved. Sign the bill as is with the Hughes Amendment and help millions of gunowners or keep the full auto registry open and only help a few?

    Yes, we all hate compromise but that's why they call it politics.
     
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  24. Arizona_Mike

    Arizona_Mike Member

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    No one likes the Huges amendment. Don't you think all the many more restrictions the FOPA eliminated were constitutional?

    I'm not sure how much trigger time you have on machine guns but I can't imagine a close quarters situation where my SMG would be a better choice then a semi-auto mk18. I also would not want to have to supply and maintain a full auto gun in some kind of hypothetical insurgency situation.

    Mike
     
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  25. SunnySlopes

    SunnySlopes Member

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    No, it's called "politics" from the Latin "poly" meaning "many" and "tics" meaning "blood sucking creatures."
     
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