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Determining If A Title 2 Firearm Is On The NFA Registry

Determining If A Title 2 Firearm Is On The NFA Registry

What are Title 2 Firearms – Title II weapons, or NFA firearms, are designations of certain weapons under the United States National Firearms Act (NFA). A MAC-10 with a silencer. The silencer is treated as a Title II weapon or NFA firearm itself; the firearm to which the silencer is attached maintains its separate legal status as Title I or Title II. If a silencer is integral to a Title II weapon, such as an SBR, the entire weapon only counts as a single Title II item. Title 2 Firearms are legal in almost every state. Most all 6 categories above are allowed in just about all states within the Continental United States. A few states restrict machinegun ownership, others may restrict short barreled shotguns (SBSs) or suppressors, etc… The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), which enforces federal firearms law, refers to such weapons as “NFA firearms”. NFA firearms include machine guns, short-barreled rifles and shotguns, heavy weapons, explosive ordnance, silencers and “any other weapon” (AOW), such as disguised or improvised firearms. Explosive devices such as bombs or grenades are regulated as NFA firearms (destructive devices).

National Firearms Act

The NFA was originally enacted in 1934. Similar to the current NFA, the original Act imposed a tax on the making and transfer of firearms defined by the Act, as well as a special (occupational) tax on persons and entities engaged in the business of importing, manufacturing, and dealing in NFA firearms. The law also required the registration of all NFA firearms with the Secretary of the Treasury. Firearms subject to the 1934 Act included shotguns and rifles having barrels less than 18 inches in length, certain firearms described as “any other weapons,” machineguns, and firearm mufflers and silencers.

Machine Gun Law

A machine gun, as defined in the NFA, is “Any weapon which shoots, is designed to shoot, or can be readily restored to shoot, automatically more than one shot without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger.” The NFA term machine gun refers to all firearms capable of full automatic fire and includes true machine guns, submachine guns, and machine pistols. The frame or receiver of a machine gun, and any combination of parts intended to make a machine gun, is legally defined as a machine gun. For example, according to the ATF, “A Glock conversion switch is a part designed and intended for use in converting a semi-automatic Glock pistol into a machine gun; therefore, it is a “machine gun” as defined in 26 U.S.C. 5845(b).” Open-bolt firearms made after 1982 are considered machine guns due to ease of conversion. Parts that can be used to convert a semi-automatic firearm to fully automatic capability are regulated as machine guns and must be registered and tax paid under the NFA. The U.S. military issued kits T17 and T18 to convert the M1 carbine to an M2, capable of fully automatic fire; these kits are legally “machine guns”.

Short-barreled shotgun law

A short-barreled shotgun (SBS) is defined as:
• a shotgun having a smoothbore barrel or barrels of less than 18 inches in length;
• a weapon made from a shotgun if such weapon as modified has an overall length of less than 26 inches or a barrel or barrels of less than 18 inches in length
• It must be intended to be fired from the shoulder one shell of shot (pellets) or one projectile at a time.
Short-barreled rifle
A short-barreled rifle (SBR) is defined as:
• a rifle having a rifled barrel or barrels of less than 16 inches in length;
• a weapon made from a rifle if such weapon as modified has an overall length of less than 26 inches or a barrel or barrels of less than 16 inches in length
A rifle is a firearm designed to be fired from the shoulder and fire one bullet at a time through a rifled barrel. An SBR need not retain a shoulder stock after modification. ATF regards pistols with shoulder stocks as redesigned to be fired from the shoulder. Modern pistols with shoulder stocks and with barrels less than 16 inches long, or overall length under 26 inches, are NFA short barreled rifles. ATF has removed some specified stocked handguns (e.g., original Mauser C96 and Luger utilizing an original shoulder stock) from the NFA as collectors’ items (Curios or Relics List); ATF treats them as pistols under the GCA.

Destructive device law

There are two categories of destructive devices (DDs):
• Explosive ordnance: Any explosive, incendiary, or poison gas, including bombs, grenades, rockets, missiles, mines and similar devices (e.g. grenade launchers, rocket launchers). Parts intended for making such a device are also DDs. Small rockets, with less than 4 ounces (113 grams) of propellant, are exempt.
• Large bore firearms: Any projectile weapon with a bore diameter greater than 1⁄2 inch (50 caliber, 12.7 mm), except for shotguns “generally recognized as particularly suitable for sporting purposes”. Most commercial shotguns have a bore diameter greater than 1⁄2 inch, but are exempt due to their “sporting purpose”; however, both the Street Sweeper and USAS-12 shotguns, designed for military or police use, were reclassified as DDs when the ATF determined they were combat shotguns not “generally recognized as particularly suitable for sporting purposes”. Devices which are not intended or not likely to be used as a weapon are also exempt. Examples of non-weapon large bore firearms include: Line-throwing devices for marine rescue, such as lyre guns and rockets for breeches buoys. Civilian flare guns, which fire 37 mm flare caliber (1.46 inch) non-weapon rounds.

Fireworks are non-weapon explosive ordnance.

Flare launchers are normally exempt as they are signaling devices, not weapons; however, possession of a flare launcher and anti-personnel ammunition for it puts it in the DD category as it is then considered to be a weapon.

Silencer Law

The legal term silencer, also known as a “suppressor”, is defined as “any device for silencing, muffling, or diminishing the report of a portable firearm, including any combination of parts … intended for use in assembling or fabricating a firearm silencer.”

Any other weapon

“Any other weapon” is a “catch-all” category. An AOW as defined as “any weapon or device capable of being concealed on the person from which a shot can be discharged through the energy of an explosive,” other than a handgun with a rifled barrel”. This umbrella definition includes many improvised firearms (“zip guns”) and disguised firearms. Examples include wallet guns, cane guns, knife guns and pen guns. AOW is a complex and often misunderstood category of NFA firearms. Less obvious examples of AOW devices include: Short-barreled shotguns manufactured without a shoulder stock (less than 26″ overall length) They are smooth-bore handguns which fire shot shells, not shotguns, which must be designed to be fired from the shoulder.

Pistols with a second vertical grip law

Many pistols feature a rail below the barrel, commonly used to mount a laser or flashlight. Attaching a vertical grip to this rail constitutes the manufacturing of an AOW firearm, as it is “no longer designed to be held and fired by the use of a single hand.” It is therefore illegal to place an aftermarket vertical fore grip on any pistol without first registering it as an AOW. Failure to do so is a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison. However, if the receiver was originally manufactured to accept either a long or short barrel and a removal buttstock and fore grip and it can be assembled either as a rifle or a pistol, according to ATF rule 2011-4 it is not considered an NFA weapon as long as it is only assembled as a pistol without a buttstock or as a rifle with a barrel at least 16 inches long. A vertical foregrip MAY be added to a pistol as long as the Overall Length (OAL) is greater than 26″, regardless of barrel length, and providing the weapon remains unconcealed. An AR-15 pistol with an overall length of 26″ or longer may have a vertical fore grip installed, as long as no buttstock is installed in conjunction with a shorter than 16″ barrel. The Sig Sauer Pistol Braces (SBS and SBX) are commonly found on these AR-15 style pistols with vertical fore grips since they are not considered buttstocks. The ATF does not consider a weapon in this configuration to be an AOW, but instead classifies it as a ‘Firearm’ which does not require any tax stamp or additional registration. However, placement of a pistol grip on these weapons does cause them to be considered an AOW (as a pistol with a vertical fore grip not intended to be fired only with one hand.) Firearms having combination rifle and shotgun barrels, more than 12 inches but less than 18 inches long from which only a single discharge can be made from either barrel without manual reloading these are designed to be fired from the shoulder.

Utah law on Spud Guns

These may potentially be classified as AOWs because they have a large bore and an unrifled barrel. One of the frequently asked questions on the BATF website FAQs is: “How do I obtain a classification from ATF for my “potato gun?” It is not known at present if the BATF has actually classified any potato gun as an AOW. Such a classification would require the manufacturer to either pay the $200 manufacturing tax, surrender the weapon to the BATF, or destroy it.

Restrictions on Utah firearms

The ownership of Title II weapons is not illegal, but is heavily regulated at both the State and Federal level. Numerous federal restrictions are imposed on the ownership of NFA firearms, including an extensive background check initiated by the applicant’s local police department or Sheriff’s office. In most states, certification of the local background check is discretionary (“May-Certify”), meaning the law enforcement agency charged with initiating the background check may deny certification of the background check either arbitrarily or for reasons unrelated to the information obtained from the background check, or refuse to accept applications to start the background check process. Some states have passed “Shall-Certify” legislation requiring local law enforcement agencies to process and certify applications for those who pass the initial background check. A few states completely outlaw private citizens from obtaining NFA Title II weapons (“No-Certify”). Of NFA firearms (silencers, machine guns, short barrel rifles, short barrel shotguns, any other weapon (AOW) and destructive devices) machineguns are the most restricted. Since 19 May 1986, no new machineguns can be registered for private ownership. Transferring ownership of an NFA weapon – All NFA weapons regardless of category (machineguns, silencers, etc.) are controlled during their transfership from one person/entity to another. These weapons transfer to another entity on what is called ATF tax forms. Each ownership transfer MUST be approved by the ATF before the transfer takes place. This approval takes sometimes many months. Generally individual transfership is approved in 3-4 months, dealer to dealer in 3-4 weeks. When the ATF approves the transfer, they cancel a tax stamp and this is why you sometimes hear some say class 3 stamps. Transfers from/to individuals require a onetime $200 tax stamp to be paid for EACH transfer (AOWs require just a $5 stamp). These are considered tax paid transfers and usually are on ATF form 4s. Dealers can transfer to other dealers using a tax free Form 3. If a person buys a NFA item from someone outside his/her domicile (home) state, the weapon must be transferred 1st to a SOT holder within the buyer’s state. Similar to a Title 1 firearm transaction. It must go to a FFL/SOT dealer in the buyer’s state before going to the buyer.

State laws on NFA firearms

A few states, such as New York, Delaware and California, prohibit ownership of all or certain types of Title II weapons and devices. Most states allow legal ownership if the owner has complied with the federal registration and taxation requirements. A few states only allow possession of NFA firearms on the ATF Curios and Relics List, again only if the owner has complied with all federal requirements.

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