Tennessee to Allow Felons to Posses Firearms, as Long as They’re More Than 120 Years Old

TN Felon FirearmsFelons can now possess “antique” firearms in Tennesse A recent change in the Volunteer State’s definition of what a firearm is will now allow felons to own a gun. That is, as long as it was manufactured before 1899. Technically this means that the “guns” don’t qualify as firearms. This also means they’d be pretty […]

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The Curious Case of Joseph Roh

The internet, or at least the parts of it that deal with guns, is aflame in recent days about an ATF decision to defer prosecution against one Joseph Roh. But who is Joseph Roh? Why does his deferred prosecution matter? Did the ATF actually shake federal gun law to its core? To answer that question […]

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What is the National Firearms Act?

National Firearms Act tax stamp

$200 tax stamps are legally required to own most NFA-regulated items, such as suppressors. (Photo: Chris Eger/Guns.com)

The 1934 law that regulates many of the cooler items in the gun world, the National Firearms Act and its associated taxes raises many questions. Here are some answers.

How did the NFA make it into law?

Introduced into the 73rd Congress on May 28, 1934, as H.R. 9741 by U.S. Rep. Robert “Bob” Doughton, a North Carolina Democrat, the legislation sailed through Capitol Hill in less than a month. For historical perspective, the country was amid the Great Depression and lawmakers in the same Democrat-controlled Congress also sped the Securities Act, which established the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the National Industrial Recovery Act, which established the Public Works Administration, to the waiting hands of President Franklin Roosevelt for signature. The measure passed both chambers on a voice vote, with no record of which lawmakers approved it.

The bill that made it through Congress was watered down compared to other proposals at the time, such as HR 9066. Introduced by U.S. Rep. Hatton Sumners, D-TX, H.R. 9066 contained most of the same regulations and restrictions as the NFA but also targeted handguns and added a $5,000 yearly tax on firearm makers and importers. When adjusted for inflation, that figure would approach $100,000 today.

What does the NFA regulate?

While the new law did not outright ban the items under its control, it did require that shotguns and rifles with barrels less than 18 or 16 inches respectively in length, machine guns, firearm “mufflers and silencers” and firearms such as cane guns described as “any other weapons” be regulated and a tax established that was due whenever the device was made or transferred. Likewise, those who produced such items would have to pay a special occupational tax. The base price for most of these taxes was set at $200 per item, per transfer. This was the equivalent of about $3,800 in 2019 dollars.

As noted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which was originally part of the IRS until 1972, “The $200 making and transfer taxes on most NFA firearms were considered quite severe and adequate to carry out Congress’ purpose to discourage or eliminate transactions in these firearms.”

The amount of revenue paid into the U.S. Treasury has shifted over the years as, in general, the amount of tax has remained the same. In 1938, just $5,000 was collected. By 1984, $1.2 million was paid. In 2017, the ATF noted that just over $29 million was collected.

The NFA today

Today, the NFA controls the making and transfer of short-barreled rifles (SBR), short-barreled shotguns (SBS), silencers/suppressors, machine guns, AOWs, and destructive devices — with the latter something of a “catch-all” that includes everything from live grenades to anti-tank guns. Registration and tracking of such items are included in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record, or NFRTR.

As of February 2018, over 5.5 million items were carried on the record:

AOW 60,706
Destructive Devices 2,818,528
Machine guns 638,260
Short Barreled Rifles 345,323
Short Barreled Shotguns 149,866
Suppressors 1,489,791

Has the NFA been challenged?

As with many controversial laws, the NFA has been the target of numerous legal challenges over its existence. This included the 1937 Sonzinsky case before the Supreme Court, which upheld the law as a valid exercise of the taxing power of Congress. More recently, the office of the current Solicitor General of the United States, Noel Francisco, used Sonzinsky in defense of the NFA in a challenge to the nation’s highest court in the case of a Kansas man found guilty of an NFA violation.

Jeremy Kettler in 2017 was found guilty of violating federal laws concerning the manufacturing and selling of suppressors and was given a year’s probation on a single count of possession of an unregistered NFA item. With the conviction upheld on appeal to the 10th U.S. Circuit last October. Aided by gun rights groups, Kettler appealed his case to the Supreme Court in January, arguing that the NFA is unconstitutional and that it is a money-losing tax that produces no effective revenue for the government while effectively criminalizing the devices it controls.

Francisco’s office in May told the court that Kettler’s petition should be denied, saying that it “lacked merit.” The Supreme Court declined to take up Kettler’s petition on June 10.

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Customs puts the Crimp on Banned Gun Parts from China

CBP officer holds gun parts

The items seized were worth some $378,000 and came into a California port in three shipments. (Photo: CBP)

U.S. Customs and Border Protection last week announced they had intercepted and seized 52,601 firearms parts in violation of the Chinese Arms Embargo. CBP detailed that the parts, worth an estimated $378,000, included sights, stocks, brakes, buffer kits, and grips that were shipped in three batches through the Los Angeles/Long Beach Seaport. While China legally exported boatloads of firearms to the U.S. in the 1980s, they are currently one of just eight countries barred from sending guns and ammunition to the country.

According to CBP, the parts included a mix of sights, stocks, muzzles, brakes, buffer kits, and grips (Photo: CBP)

According to CBP, the parts included a mix of sights, stocks, brakes, buffer kits, and grips (Photo: CBP)

“We work closely with our strategic partners to ensure import compliance while maintaining the highest standards of security at our nation’s largest seaport,” said LaFonda Sutton-Burke, CBP Port Director of the LA/Long Beach Seaport. “This interception underscores the successful collaboration between CBP officers, import specialists, and ATF investigators.”

The current ban on firearms from China was put into place in 1994 by then-President Bill Clinton. At the time, the country was reportedly the source of about one-third of all guns and more than half the rifles brought into the U.S. from overseas each year. The firearms prohibition by the Clinton administration came at the same time the White House renewed China’s “Most-Favored-Nation” status for trade privileges despite public outcry over Bejing’s policy of repression on human rights.

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The Difference Between an AR Pistol and SBR

SBR

Rifles can come in all lengths, opening up the question what’s the difference between an AR pistol and a Short Barreled Rifle? (Photo: Eric Jezierski)

With short-barreled AR uppers becoming a standard option, the question “is a pistol or a short-barreled rifle?” comes up more and more. While they may look the same – and are often used the same way – they’re different.

The biggest difference is the former is regulated like any other firearm while the latter requires a rigorous licensing process. But don’t let that scare you. It’s more along the lines of tumbling than gymnastics.

In this article, I’ll dig in and find out what the difference is between an AR pistol and a short-barreled rifle, and which one is right for you.

What is an AR pistol?

AR Pistol

The Ruger AR-556 Pistol is equipped with a SB Tactical Stabilizing Brace and fits the description of an AR pistol.

An AR pistol is an AR-15 minus the stock and, usually, long barrel. Since the guts are still the same, an AR pistol is equipped with a naked buffer tube in lieu of a stock, which, on a rifle, would be built around the tube.

More recently, AR pistols have seen a jump in popularity thanks to a device called a stabilizing brace. While these braces look and can function like a stock, they’re intended to fit around or against the user’s forearm. As the name implies, the brace helps the user stabilize the gun during use.

By the numbers, an AR pistol is an AR-style firearm without a buttstock and a barrel under 16 inches in length. In comparison, a rifle has a barrel 16 inches or longer and is intended to be fired from the shoulder, according to ATF rules.

What is a short-barreled rifle?

SBR

The Daniel Defense DDM4A1 features a 14.5-inch barrel putting it in SBR territory; however, the company circumvents the SBR label by pinning a flash suppressor on the barrel, pushing its measurements over 16-inches.

A short-barreled rifle, or SBR, is a rifle with either a barrel under 16 inches, an overall length of less than 26 inches, or both. SBRs can have a traditional buttstock, whether fixed or telescoping. Under the National Firearms Act of 1934, or the NFA, to own an SBR one must pay a small licensing fee and undergo what can be a lengthy licensing process.

Do you want a true SBR or a substitute?

The best thing about an AR pistol is that you can buy it today. There are no extra fees and there’s no additional scrutiny or waiting. You can use an AR pistol in whatever legal manner you desire. While there was once a rule against shouldering an AR pistol, the ATF has since rescinded it.

Those points make the AR pistol sound very appealing, but there are some drawbacks. For instance, depending on state laws and/or configuration, adding certain accessories like a fore-grip to an AR pistol could violate regs. Additionally, regulators may alter or update legal interpretations depending on how new laws are written or court opinions on legal challenges. With that said, don’t let government bureaucracy prevent you from exercising your gun rights.

Outside of the additional cost and lengthy processing time (at least a $200 tax and on average six months), you’re free to use an SBR like you would a rifle. The legality has not changed for decades. Once you have your tax stamp, you can rest assured that your rifle is legally yours.

The best of both worlds

In the end, the choice is wholly depending on what you want (and where you live). But, if you want an SBR but need instant gratification, why not get both? As you begin the process to obtain an SBR, go ahead and get that AR pistol.

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230 Capitol Hill Dems have Signed on to Ban ‘Assault Weapons’

IWI bullpup

More than 200 lawmakers have signed on to bills that make the 1994 federal Assault Weapon Ban look like a dress rehearsal at gun control (Photo: Chris Eger/Guns.com)

With a plan in the House to approve a range of gun control proposals in coming weeks, most of the Democrats on Capitol Hill are also backing a ban on “assault weapons.”

In the House, H.R.1296 has 201 Democrats signed on as co-sponsors along with a sole Republican — U.S. Rep. Peter King of New York. Meanwhile, in the Senate, U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s SB 66 has 30 co-sponsors among fellow Dems and those who caucus with them.

The twin measures are the most ambitious bans proposed in recent years. They would bar the importation, production, or transfer of 205 firearms by name to include a myriad of semi-auto AR-15 and AK-47 variants. Going past that, any semi-auto rifle with a detachable magazine and any “military-style feature” such as a barrel shroud, pistol grip or threaded barrel, would be caught in the net. Even semi-auto rifles with a fixed magazine capable of holding more than 10 rounds would be covered by the proposed new bans.

Feinstein’s bill also includes a nationwide ban on adjustable stocks, Thordsen-style stocks such as used in “featureless rifles” marketed in states like California, “assault pistols” that weight more than 50 ounces when unloaded, and popular pistol stabilizing braces that have become widespread in recent years.

Gun control legislation green-lit

House Judiciary Committee Chair Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-NY, last week announced he plans to call his committee back into session early, with a Sept. 4 meeting date, to address gun control. Nadler said at least three bills — the Extreme Risk Protection Order Act, the Keep Americans Safe Act, and the Disarm Hate Act — will be marked up by the committee and head to the Democrat-controlled House floor for further consideration.

The bills respectively would help encourage gun confiscation orders through so-called “red flag” laws, ban “high capacity” magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition, and prevent those convicted of misdemeanor hate crimes from possessing firearms.

“We will also hold a hearing on September 25th to consider ways to address the dangers posed by assault weapons,” said Nadler.

Elsewhere in Congress, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY, has refused to bring the Senate back from recess to take up similar legislation but advised earlier this month that Senate Republicans were ready to work on “bipartisan, bicameral” efforts, “without infringing on Americans’ constitutional rights.”

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Beto O’Rourke on AR15s: You Won’t Be Able to Buy Them At All

Beto ORourke on AR15s You Won't Be Able to Buy Them At All cover

Robert “Beto” O’Rourke went to a gun show in the Deep South last week, just after announcing his plan to ration, ban and regulate firearms nationwide should he reach the Oval Office in 2020. (Screenshot via Twitter)

Democrat Presidental candidate Beto O’Rourke announced his gun control platform last week to include a ban on suppressors and common semi-auto firearms — and that’s just for starters.

O’Rourke, a former El Paso City Council member and Congressman who declined to seek re-election in 2018 during a failed bid unseat U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, debuted his plan while on the road in the perma-red Deep South. While stopping at a gun show in Arkansans immediately after, O’Rourke said he listed to gun owners and sellers and “appreciated hearing their perspectives.” However, posting an image on social media of himself under a sign advertising $395 AR-15s, said plainly, “if I’m president, you wouldn’t be able to buy weapons of war for $395. You wouldn’t be able to buy them at all.”

O’Rourke’s plan aims to reverse the current trend that “America is the only country in the world with more guns than people,” and would impose a ban on the manufacturing, sale, and possession of “military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines” as well as trigger cranks, silencers and bump stocks. There would be no grandfathering of newly-outlawed guns and devices with “mandatory buybacks” being funded through an unspecified increase in the current 10 to 11 percent excise tax on the firearms industry.

Those looking to purchase a firearm under would-be President O’Rourke’s plan would face universal background checks, national gun licensing requirements and be limited to one gun acquisition per month, which would have to be registered. Those who sell more than five guns in a year would have to become licensed dealers. With some exceptions, the minimum age for purchasing a firearm would be set at 21.

However, the number of guns available to purchase could be limited for even well-qualified and vetted buyers, as, according to O’Rourke’s platform, “all new handguns will be microstamped.” California has a similar requirement for new semi-auto handguns for the consumer market, which no current manufacturer says they can meet due to technical reasons, a sticking point which has brought that state into a series of prolonged lawsuits with firearms industry trade groups who argue it is a “slow-motion ban on handguns.”

Other bullet points from O’Rourke’s plan include declaring gun violence to be a public health emergency, establishing a federal red flag law, and moves to open social media platforms and internet hosting companies to a variety of lawsuits designed to block content.

According to national poll aggregator Real Clear Politics, O’Rourke is currently polling in sixth place among declared Democrat Presidental candidates, between South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg and U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, D-NJ.

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