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NFA myths, truths, and the official ATF FAQs

Discussion in 'NFA Weapon Discussion' started by SCARed, May 8, 2015.

  1. SCARed

    SCARed Vancouver, WA Well-Known Member

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    What is the NFA and what is an NFA item?
    The NFA stands for National Firearms Act of 1934,http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Firearms_Act

    Standard Firearms are Title I items, NFA Firearms are Title II

    There are 6 different types of NFA items:
    Machine gun - AKA Full Auto or FA for short
    Short Barreled Rifles - SBR rifles with barrel(s) less then 16” or OAL less then 26”
    Short Barreled Shotguns - SBS shotguns with barrel(s) less then 18” or OAL less then 26”
    Suppressors - AKA Silencers
    Destructive Devices - DD things like grenades, bombs, bores over 0.50”
    Any Other Weapon - AOW this is any firearm that does not fit above. Most common are pen guns and pistol sized/shaped shotguns (smooth bore pistol)

    SOT – Special Occupational Tax. This is a tax paid by a FFL to allow them to manufacture, import, or deal NFA items.

    · Class 1 – Importer

    · Class 2 – Manufacturer

    · Class 3 – Dealer

    ATF FAQs

    General NFA FAQs



    Silencers FAQs

    Machine Gun FAQs

    NFA firearms handbook

    NFA myths

    1. Machine guns are illegal
    Under Federal laws, they are legal. However, individual states may have laws regarding the possession of machine guns. NFA 1934 makes the transfer of such weapons taxable, and created a registry of such weapons. NO machine guns made after May 1986 can be entered into the registry, which creates a de facto ban on the production of new machine guns for civilians. Complete machine guns, Registered Receivers, Drop In Auto Sears (DIAS or RDIAS), and Lightning links, are all considered machine guns under federal law.

    2. You need a license to buy an NFA item.
    No License is required. What you need to do is pay a tax on the transfer of each item in your possession. The tax is currently $200 for machine guns, suppressors, short-barreled rifles/shotguns, and destructive devices. The transfer tax for Any Other Weapon is $5

    Some states may have permitting or licensing requirements that have to be met prior to the purchase of NFA items, but there is no Federal "Class 3" license. That term is usually used to refer to a FFL who has paid the SOT (Special Occupation Tax) fee to allow them to deal in Title II weapons and devices (NFA).

    3. I have to pay the NFA tax every year
    Another common myth; the transfer tax is paid once per transfer of the weapon, whether you own it for 10 days or 10 years.

    4. Owning an NFA item means agreeing to give up your 4th amendment protections.
    This is an oft repeated myth. No one can search your home (or whatever location you used for your ATF tax form) without your permission or a warrant just because you own NFA items.

    5. If I buy an NFA item I’ll have to buy a safe to store it in.
    While you are required to maintain control of your NFA items at all times (and a safe to which only you have access goes a long way to meeting this requirement), there is no law that requires you to buy a safe to store your NFA items.

    6. No one else is allowed to use my NFA weapons
    As long as you are maintaining control (which means you don’t leave the NFA items in the sole care of someone other than yourself) your friends and family are welcome to use them, as long as you are physically present and they are not a “Prohibited Person”.

    7. All sales must go through a dealer.
    Intrastate sales can be completed on a Form 4 without involving a dealer,Interstate sales require an FFL to FFL transfer. I phrase it that way because the purchase of C&R NFA items from an out-of-state dealer or individual can be done without involving a dealer in your state, if you are the holder of an 03 FFL (Curious & Relics). In this situation no SOT is required to be involved on either side of the transaction.

    8. Configuration of the NFA item may not be changed
    If your NFA item has interchangeable parts (stock, barrel, etc.) it is perfectly lawful to modify that configuration. ATF recommends that permanent changes should be reported back to the Registry, but it is not a requirement. Temporary modifications, such as changing the upper on your M-16 or AR-15 SBR are completely legit.

    9. Once an NFA item, always an NFA item
    The firearm is only a NFA item when configured as such. If you wanted to take a SBR into a state that doesn’t allow SBRs, or you don’t have a 5320.20 for the travel, you can put a 16”+ barrel/upper on it and it is treated like a regular, non NFA item as long as you DO NOT have a short barreled upper with you.

    Also, as long as the firearm is not in a NFA configuration, you may also sell the firearm or receiver without completing a NFA Form 4 transfer.
    Last edited: May 8, 2015
  2. SCARed

    SCARed Vancouver, WA Well-Known Member

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    I'm working to make this a sticky.

    If you have any additions, changes, or corrections, let me know (PM preferable) and I will update the first post. BUT please be prepared to provide links to the laws or source if needed.
  3. The Heretic

    The Heretic Oregon Well-Known Member

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    You may also [what] the firearm?
    IronMonster and SCARed like this.
  4. del_and_bones

    del_and_bones Anchorage, AK Physics Pirate

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    Q: If I remove the short barrel from my SBR or SBS, may I move the firearm across state lines without the submission of ATF Form 5320.20, Application to Transport or to Temporarily Export Certain Firearms?

    If the registrant retains control over the parts required to assemble the SBR or SBS, the firearm is still be subject to all requirements of the NFA. ATF recommends contacting law enforcement officials in the destination state to ensure compliance with state and local law.

    My take and IANAL.

    Number 9 is a gray area. Just because the parts aren't with you does not mean it isn't an NFA item. How the ATF's answer reads to me: if you take your SBR and make it into a Rifle, use the short barrel for a pistol, and do not return it to SBR configuration, you're golden. If you move the SBR across state lines in Rifle configuration, bring it back, and re-assemble the SBR, you could be opening yourself up to litigation. It's likely a low probability of prosecution and depends on the definition of "control."
  5. SCARed

    SCARed Vancouver, WA Well-Known Member

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    When you look at the FAQs as a whole, it's pretty clear they don't consider it a SBR if your leave the short barrel at home. The whole "its only a NFA item when configured as an NFA item".
    On other NFA forums which are frequented by attorneys, the consensus and general practice is that you leave the short barrel at home, the receiver + 16" barrel is good to go in other states.
  6. del_and_bones

    del_and_bones Anchorage, AK Physics Pirate

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    Disclaimer: I'm good with being wrong and I'm only replying for clarification. Thank you for the info from the lawyers, getting some legal is always invaluable in the NFA game. Which forums (just curious, I may want to join)? Is one Sturmgewehr? Lastly, if I need to shut-up and go away, I totally understand. Just let me know!

    The following two FAQs are pretty clear when coupled with the first one I posted. Traveling with the receiver and 16"+ barrel installed and not being under the purview of the NFA makes intuitive sense (which the ATF ALWAYS uses), however that still doesn't discount you still have "control" over the part(s) necessary to reassemble the SBR. In short, this hinges on: the definition of "control" and whether it is okay to reassemble the item (more explicitly the definition of making/unmaking).

    Q: If I remove the short barrel from the registered SBR or SBS, is the receiver still subject to NFA transfer and possession regulations?
    If the possessor retains control over the barrel or other parts required to assemble the SBR or SBS, the firearm would still be subject to NFA transfer and possession regulations. ATF recommends contacting State law enforcement officials to ensure compliance with state and local law.

    Q: Does the installation of a barrel over 16 inches in length (SBR) or 18 inches in length (SBS) remove the firearm from the purview of the NFA? If so, is this considered a permanent change?

    Installation of a barrel greater than 16 inches in length (SBR) or 18 inches in length (SBS) will remove the firearm from the purview of the NFA provided the registrant does not maintain control over the parts necessary to reconfigure the firearm as a SBR or SBS.
  7. SCARed

    SCARed Vancouver, WA Well-Known Member

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    While I'm not a lawyer, and didn't stay at a Holiday Inn, I did find this excerpt from a ATF NFA branch letter...

  8. Tornado-Technologies

    Tornado-Technologies Hillsboro Active Member

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    You might want to add in DEWATs so to your types of NFA weapons.
    What the hell is a DEWAT I hear you ask? DEWAT stands for DEactivated WAr Trophy.
    In 1945 the Internal Revenue Service established it's war trophy deactivation program. This allowed for returning servicemen to retain war trophies and effect their registration. It required they were rendered unserviceable by "steel welding" the breech closed, and welding the barrel to the frame or receiver. In 1955, under Revenue Ruling 55-590 the ATT (Alcohol and Tobacco Tax Division of the IRS - who administer the NFA at the time) decided that the Machinguns and DD's that were registered under this program, could be removed from the purvey of the NFA as long as they met the above deactivation standards.
    Along with these war souvenirs, tens of thousands of machineguns and DD's were imported expressly for the purpose of turning into DEWATS and sold freely via mail order ads in gun magazines of the day.
    With the passage of the Gun Control Act of 1968, these were again considered to be NFA Weapons and were required to be registered. Many were registered during the 1968 amnesty and are today legal to own. those that weren't are considered contraband, with the exception of guns that were registered prior to 1955, as long as the owner can show proof.

    A DEWAT transfers tax free on an ATF Form 5. You rarely see them these days as the ATF allows the owner of a Registered DEWAT to file an ATF Form 1, pay the $200 tax and reactivate them. Most have already been reactivated, but they do occasionally turn up. The most recent examples I've seen in the last two years were a Solothurn S-18/1000, a ANM2 and a Colt potato digger.

    Under machineguns you might want to add that it includes a part or collection of parts used to convert a gun into a machine gun. ie. registered sears such as AR15 DIAS, AR15 lighting links, or M2 carbine "conversion kits".

    You might want to add these into the AOW category:
    - A shoulder fired, manually reloaded combination gun, having both a rifled and smooth barrels between 12" and 18" long, and and an overall length of less than 26".
    - Wallet holsters, brief cases etc from which the gun can be fired, and which disguise the outline of the gun. (only with gun in place)
    - Gadget guns; pen guns,belt buckle guns, cane guns, alarm clock guns, stapler guns, flashlight guns etc.
    - Handguns with two vertical grips.
  9. telero

    telero Salem area, Oregon Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    That question on the ATF FAQ site used to have a different answer. It used to state that it was OK to take an NFA item in non-NFA configuration across state lines. There was no recommendation of checking with state and local law. I believe it was changed to be slightly vague and to check local laws because a state or local law could define an NFA item as a firearm that is registered as an NFA item, rather than define it as configured. I don't know if any states or localities that define an NFA item that way, but we've all seen stupid firearms laws written by people that know nothing about firearms.
  10. NoLimePlease

    NoLimePlease Portland Active Member

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    Where did you find this letter? I believe I would feel pretty safe with this in my pocket with my engraved receiver in a non-residential state.
  11. Tornado-Technologies

    Tornado-Technologies Hillsboro Active Member

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    This only applies to SBR's and some AOW's. The ATF ruled a long time ago, that ones a machinegun, always a machinegun. You can't get an AK47, pull out the autosear and weld up the autosear hole, it's still a machinegun.
  12. CountryGent

    CountryGent Southern Oregon Gold Supporter Gold Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    On the topic of SBRs, SBSs, some AOWs and some Destructive Devices being removed from the scope of the NFA, the ATF's NFA Handbook has a section devoted to that.

    Section 2.5 Removal of firearms from the scope of the NFA by modification/elimination of components.

    Firearms, except machineguns and silencers, that are subject to the NFA fall within the various definitions due to specific features. If the particular feature that causes a firearm to be regulated by the NFA is eliminated or modified, the resulting weapon is no longer an NFA weapon.

    For example, a shotgun with a barrel length of 15 inches is an NFA weapon. If the 15- inch barrel is removed and disposed of, the remaining firearm is not subject to the NFA because it has no barrel. Likewise, if the 15 inch barrel is modified by permanently attaching an extension such that the barrel length is at least 18 inches and the overall length of the weapon is at least 26 inches, the modified firearm is not subject to the NFA. NOTE: an acceptable method for permanently installing a barrel extension is by gas or electric steel seam welding or the use of high temperature silver solder having a flow point of 1100 degrees Fahrenheit.

    A shot pistol (“any other weapon”) such as an H&R Handy Gun may be removed from the NFA by either disposing of the smooth bore barrel or permanently installing a rifled sleeve chambered to accept a standard pistol cartridge into the smooth bore barrel. Modified by sleeving the barrel, an H&R Handy Gun is no longer an NFA weapon because it now has a rifled bore.

    Large caliber destructive devices that are not also machineguns can be removed from the NFA by disposing of the barrel. If the barrel of a 37mm cannon is removed and disposed of, the remaining weapon has no barrel or bore diameter. As an alternative, the barrel of a destructive device may be functionally destroyed. To destroy the barrel of a destructive device the following operations must be performed:

    • Cut a hole, equal to the diameter of the bore, on a 90-degree angle to the axis of the bore, through one side of the barrel in the high pressure (chamber) area.
    • Weld the barrel to the receiver of the weapon.
    • Weld an obstruction into the barrel to prevent the introduction of a round of ammunition.​
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2016