NFA – National Firearms Act
It is a statutory excise tax on the manufacture and transfer of certain firearms and mandates the registration of those firearms. The Act was passed shortly after the repeal of Prohibition. The NFA is also referred to as Title II of the Federal firearms laws. The Gun Control Act of 1968 (“GCA”) is Title I.
All transfers of ownership of registered NFA firearms must be done through the federal NFA registry. The NFA also requires that permanent transport of NFA firearms across state lines by the owner must be reported to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF, or BATFE). Temporary transport of some items, most notably silencers, do not need to be reported.
The National Firearms Act of 1968 (NFA) defines a number of categories of regulated firearms. These weapons are collectively known as NFA firearms and include the following:
Machine guns: This category includes any firearm which can fire more than 1 cartridge per trigger pull. Both continuous fully automatic fire and “burst fire” (i.e., firearms with a 3-round burst feature) reconsidered machine gun features. The weapon’s receiver is by itself considered to be a regulated firearm. A non-machine gun that may be converted to fire more than one shot per trigger pull by ordinary mechanical skills is determined to be “readily convertible”, and classed as a machine gun, such as a KG-9 pistol (pre-ban ones are “grandfathered”).
Short-barreled rifles (SBRs):This category includes any firearm with a butt stock and either a rifled barrel under 16″ long or an overall length under 26″. The overall length is measured with any folding or collapsing stocks in the extended position. The category also includes firearms which came from the factory with a butt stock that was later removed by a third party.
Short barreled shotguns (SBSs): This category is defined similarly to SBRs, but the barrel must be under 18″ or a minimum overall length under 26″. and the barrel must be a smoothbore.
Suppressors: This includes any portable device designed to muffle or disguise the report of a portable firearm. This category does not include non-portable devices, such as sound traps used by gunsmiths in their shops which are large and usually bolted to the floor.
Destructive Devices (DDs): There are two broad classes of destructive devices:
- Devices such as grenades, bombs, explosive missiles, poison gas weapons, etc.
- Any firearm with a bore over 0.50 inch except for shotguns or shotgun shells which have been found to be generally recognized as particularly suitable for sporting purposes. (Many firearms with bores over 0.50″ inch, such as 12-gauge shotguns, are exempted from the law because they have been determined to have a “legitimate sporting use”.)
Any Other Weapon (AOW):
Firearms meeting the definition of “any other weapon” or AOW are weapons or devices capable of being concealed on the person from which a shot can be discharged through the energy of an explosive. Many “any other weapons” are disguised devices such as pens, cigarette lighters, knives, cane guns and umbrella guns. AOW’s can be pistols and revolvers having smooth bore barrels designed or redesigned to fire a fixed shotgun shell. While the above weapons are similar in appearance to weapons made from shotguns, they were originally manufactured in the illustrated configuration and are not modified from existing shotguns. As a result, these weapons do not fit within the definition of shotgun or weapons made from a shotgun.
The AOW definition includes specifically described weapons with combination shotgun and rifle barrels 12 inches or more but less than 18 inches in length from which only a single discharge can be made from either barrel without manual reloading.
In 1938 Congress recognized that the Marble Game Getter, a short .22/.410 sporting firearm, had “legitimate use” and did not deserve the stigma of a “gangster weapon” and reduced the $200 tax to one dollar for the Game Getter. In 1960 Congress changed the transfer tax for all AOW category firearms to $5. The transfer tax for machine guns, silencers, SBR and SBS remained at $200.
For civilian possession, all machine guns must have been manufactured and registered with the ATF prior to May 19, 1986 to be transferable between citizens. These machine gun prices have drastically escalated in value, especially items like registered sears and conversion-kits. Only a Class-II manufacturer (a FFL holder licensed to manufacture firearms or Type-07 license that has paid a Special Occupational Tax Stamp or SOT) could manufacture machine guns after that date, and they can only be sold to Government, law-enforcement, and military entities.
Purchase and ownership of Title II firearms and suppressors is available to Individuals, Corporations, and Trusts. Which entity you choose in order to complete the paperwork for Title II purchases is up to you, but we recommend getting qualified advice from a knowledgeable source, such as an attorney who is well-versed in NFA law. We can report that many people are utilizing Trusts, but if you use a trust, be certain your trust does not violate the NFA; the repercussions can be substantial.
What kind of forms to file?
Your transferring FFL will usually assist you with the filing of ATF Form 5320.4, also known as “Form 4,” filed in duplicate. This form is required in order to transfer the NFA item from the receiving FFL to you. You should also submit one copy of ATF Form 5330.20 (Certification of Compliance), which is used to certify U.S. Citizenship. If you are filing within a trust, a copy of the trust goes along with the forms.
Here at Guns and Range Training Center , we can make your NFA Class III weapons purchase painless! We will walk you through the process, and assist in filling out the forms properly the first time, so there is no ‘back and forth’ with the BATF. If you have any questions on the process, or are unsure of what you need to get the process started, call us and one of our knowledgeable sales staff will help you!
LEGAL DISCLAIMER: Please note that this content is not legal advice and does not constitute as an attorney / client relationship. If you need professional legal advice, please contact a qualified attorney that practices in this field.