The National Firearms Act (NFA), is codified as Title 26 United States Code, Chapter 53: Machine Guns, Destructive Devices, and Certain Other Firearms.  The NFA identifies types of firearms that are specially controlled by law.  Make no mistake, Uncle Sam means business about NFA firearms.  If you've any doubt as to this, remember that subsection 5871 of the Act reads as follows:

Any person who violates or fails to comply with any provision of this chapter shall, upon conviction, be fined not more than $10,000, or be imprisoned not more than ten years or both.
Now that we've got your attention, let's take a look at some aspects of the NFA.

1) What types of firearms are covered under the provisions of the NFA?

a) Shotguns with barrels less than 18 inches in length
b) Firearms made from a shotgun, having, if modified, a total overall length of less than 26 inches
c) Rifles with barrels less than 16 inches in length
d) Firearms made from a rifle having, if modified, a total overall length of less than 26 inches
e) Any weapon capable of being concealed on the person, having a smooth bore and a barrel between 12 and 18 inches in length, designed or redesigned to fire a fixed shotgun shell
f) A machinegun (any weapon which shoots, is designed to shoot, or can be readily restored to shoot automatically more than one shot without manual reloading, or by a single function of the trigger.  The term also includes the frame or receiver of such a weapon, any part designed or intended solely and exclusively, or any combination of parts designed or intended, for use in converting a firearm into a machinegun, and any combination of parts from which a machinegun can be assembled if such parts are in the possession or under the control of a person.)
g) Silencers
h) Destructive devices ( explosive, incendiary, or poison gas, a bomb, a grenade, a rocket with a propellant charge of more than four ounces, missile with an explosive or incendiary charge of more than one quarter ounce, a mine, any weapon which launches a projectile of greater than one half inch in diameter - excepting shotgun shells.

As a federal firearms licensee, it is incumbent upon you to know these definitions.  Failure to do so, even if inadvertent can land you an all expense paid trip to Club Fed.

2) What does the NFA prohibit?

a) Operate as a dealer, manufacturer, or dealer of NFA firearms without having paid the special occupational tax and registering with the BATF
b) To receive or possess a firearm transferred or made in violation of the NFA
c) To receive or possess an NFA firearm not registered to the receiver or possessor
d) To transfer or make firearms in violation of the NFA
e) To remove or attempt to remove serial numbers from a firearm, or receive such a firearm
f) To make any false application or statements on an NFA application

3) What must be done to legally transfer an NFA firearm?

a) Filing of an application in duplicate with the BATF
b) Payment of the $200 transfer tax
c) Submission of fingerprints and photographs
d) The firearm in question is sufficiently identified

On top of all this, you must be in compliance with all applicable state laws.  Indeed, the chief law enforcement officer of your area must approve your application prior to submission to the BATF.  Some states do not permit ownership of NFA firearms at all.  While other states may permit individuals to own the firearms, the ultimate approval rests with the local authorities.  This gives rise to situations where a resident of county X may to legally own two Vickers guns, an M16A2, four AKM's, and an FG42, while possessing same may land  a resident of county Y, a mile and a half away, in jail for a very long time.

If you've come to the conclusion that the NFA is a hornets' nest of confusing rules and regulations, the inadvertent violation of any of which can land you in very hot water, you've come to the conclusion for which we were hoping.  However, you should not feel that it is insurmountable.  Many people own legal NFA firearms.  What it takes is a willingness to work with the BATF and local law enforcement, patience, money and time.

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