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What Reforms? PDF Print

There are many views on the appropriate reforms necessary, from those who would ban the whole category of firearms to those who would repeal the entirety of the National Firearms Act and treat them as any other firearm.  What we are looking at is a short-term goal as follows:

 

  • Remove the ban on new machinegun creation and transfer for civilians and allow their creation and sale subject to the provisions of the NFA
  • Create a new class of "readily convertible" firearms covered under NFA
  • Update the "sporting purpose" clause given the result of Heller to more properly align the discretionary powers of BAFTE to the rights conferred by the Second Amendment.
  • Remove the NFA tax and restrictions on silencers
  • Provide more clarity for classification of firearms and expected NFA status
  • Provide a concrete definition for terms such as "readily convertible" that are referenced in NFA law.
  • Provide a mechanism to register and make legal weapons currently in violation of the NFA.
  • Modify the "Destructive Devices" definition to remove shotguns from discretionary Title 1 status

 

Each of these goals serves as a pillar for reform of the NFA system to return responsibility to the US citizen and accountability to BAFTE

 

Machineguns, the Machinegun ban, and "Readily Convertible" firearms

 

Technically the NFA was passed as a "revenue raising" measure, and the NFA registry and transfer fees exist for the purpose of raising revenue for the US Government.  Practically, NFA fees are a backdoor mechanism for firearms regulation, and serve as an impediment to ownership of NFA firearms due both to the fees and the work and time involved in getting BATFE approval.  While one can argue about the constitutionality of such a measure, the BATFE mechanism has been an effective measure in regards to limiting criminal use of LEGALLY REGISTERED NFA weapons.

 

Legally registered machineguns in the United States have been negligible in regards to criminal activity - there have been only two homicides since the passage of the NFA using legal, registered firearms, one of which was committed by a police officer with his duty weapon (and thus would be entirely unaffected by any ban).  The ban was put in place for purely ideological reasons - a dislike for civilians owning such firearms.

 

Regardless of the legal problems with such a ban (which will be addressed elsewhere on this site), it creates a number of practical problems as the demand for such weapons necessarily exceeds the supply.  It limits a broad class of designs that are considered "readily convertible" but are not in and of themselves machineguns, but which are banned regardless.  It limits Americans from the right to own a class of firearm that is extremely popular worldwide in military, militia, security/protection, and civilian law enforcement work.

 

Granting for the moment the desire to restrict access to these potentially more dangerous firearms, the results over the past century demonstrate that the NFA registry is an effective access control measure.  The specific measures we are suggesting are as follows:

  • "Readily Convertible" -A design which may be adapted to fire more than one shot with the pull of a trigger by an individual with no special knowledge or tooling within an eight hour time period.
  • "Machinegun Converter" -Any part or collection of parts that is intended to convert a firearm into a machinegun and is functionally able to complete such a conversion.  Common materials or parts that could be used to this end but have other legal uses may be considered a "machinegun converter" only with clear evidence of intent to create a machinegun using said materials.
  • "Machinegun" - A firearm designed or converted to intentionally fire more than one shot per pull of the trigger under the control of the trigger.  A weapon not designed as a machinegun firing multiple shots shall not be considered a machinegun provided that the condition is erroneous, the user is making a good-faith effort to resolve the condition, and that the weapon is not transferred other than to a gunsmith for the repair of the multiple-firing condition or to an appropriate authority for disposal under state law.
  • USC 922(o) is repealed; BATFE is directed to resume the acceptance of NFA tax stamps for creation and transfer of machineguns subject to the usual Form 1 / Form 4 requirements
  • A "readily convertible" shall be legal to own and use as if it were a semi-automatic firearm provided that a Form 1 or Form 4 is submitted and approved for the weapon in question.  Such firearms shall not require a $200 tax stamp or CLEO signature, but shall incur the standard background checks involved in a machinegun purchase.
  • Any existing machinegun not registered under NFA may be amnesty registered for a period of one year following the passage of this act.  After such time, any non-registered firearm may be registered by paying an additional $200 fee (in addition to the $200 NFA tax) and filing a Form 1 for the item in question.  Provided that no criminal activity aside from the violation of NFA has been committed, the registrant shall be absolved of any legal responsibility for the violation of the NFA.

 

 

Short Barreled Firearms

 

The current law on "Short Barreled Shotguns" is ambiguous, especially on the subject of pistol-grip shotguns or other shotguns lacking a shoulder stock.

  • "Short Barreled Firearm" - Any firearm with a barrel shorter than 14", measured to the end of rifling, barrel,  or choke and not inclusive of any flash suppressor or other accessory, that is meant to be fired from the shoulder or requiring two hands to fire.  "Short Barreled Firearms" replace Short Barreled Rifles and Short Barreled Shotguns for the purpose of NFA registration requirements.
  • "Pistol" - Any firearm designed to be fired with a single hand with no external supports, regardless of barrel type or length.  Pistols are Title I firearms.

 

Sporting Purpose and BAFTE discretion

The "sporting purpose" test provides a very broad instrument for BAFTE to semi-arbitrarily deny the import or sale of many weapons in demand by the American people.  In addition, the test is clearly superseded by Heller with the finding that the Second Amendment protects both "militia" uses and self-defense uses for firearms.

  • The BATFE may not restrict the importation, creation, or possession of any firearms based on the lack of a "sporting purpose".
  • Any shotgun or large caliber rifle that has a reasonable use for hunting, sport shooting, combat-style shooting, "militia" use, or self-defense use shall be deemed by BAFTE to be a Title 1 arm not subject to regulation under NFA as a Destructive Device
  • In areas where ambiguity exists in the wording of the law, BAFTE is directed to choose the interpretation that retains for the people the maximum freedom in the purchase, possession, and use of firearms and other weapons.  Any citizen who is not a prohibited person shall have standing to challenge BAFTE regulations in a court of law.

 

Amnesty and Legalization

There is currently no mechanism for non-registered NFA items to be "legalized".

  • Starting one month after the passage of an act for the period of one year, BAFTE or its successor agency would be directed to accept amnesty registrations for any NFA items not currently registered.  Registration of such items shall absolve the registrant of any legal penalties for past violations of the NFA for the item or items registered.
  • After the amnesty period, any firearm covered by NFA that is not registered (or for which NFA status is unknown in the case of inherited or "found" firearms) may be registered after payment of a violation fee equal to the NFA transfer tax on the item.  The payment of this fee shall absolve the registrant of any penalties for past violations of the NFA pertaining to this item.  The registrant may then either surrender, transfer, or register the firearm, paying the appropriate NFA tax in the process.
  • Nothing in this section shall absolve any individual for any violent crime against another citizen or resident of the United States.