Owning title 2 weapons in the USA.

Discussion in 'NFA Firearms & Related Items' started by Ranb, Jan 29, 2010.

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  1. Ranb

    Ranb Former Guest

    Jan 24, 2010
    WA, USA
    I was requested to write a piece on ownership of title 2 weapons (machine guns, silencers etc) in the USA and post it here. Please let me know if I made any mistakes or if I can provide more clarification. I would like to hear from those who deal in title 2 weapons as a business and those who own them as a hobby. Thanks.

    Firearms can be divided into two categories in the USA. Title 1 firearms such as handguns, rifles and shotguns; and title 2 weapons like machine guns, silencers, short barreled shotguns, short barreled rifles, destructive devices and any other weapons (pen guns, gadget guns). While most people are familiar with title 1 guns that are commonly sold in sporting goods stores, some people are not aware that title 2 weapons can also be owned by anyone who can own a rifle.

    Federal and State law summaries are here; http://www.subguns.com/laws/laws.htm Written by James Bardwell. This is a very helpful and easy to read summary of gun law in the USA.

    In 1934 the National Firearms Act was passed by Congress to strictly regulate the sale of all title 2 weapons. While these weapons were not banned, their manufacture and sale was subject to BATFE authorization and a $200 tax ($5 for transfer of AOW’s). This tax was intended to make the sale and ownership of title 2 weapons undesirable as a Maxim silencer cost about $5 and a new 1927 Thompson machine gun only cost about $150 back in 1934. Title 2 weapons owned before the law passed were required to be registered with the tax paid, destroyed or turned in to the government.

    To put this $200 tax into perspective, it is equal to more than $3000 today. Few people wished to pay such an exorbitant tax back then. Today inflation has made it a mere nuisance compared to the price of a machine gun which is about $3000 for a Mac-10 and $15000 for an M-16. To make matters worse, in 1986 new registration of machine guns was prohibited by the Firearm Owners Protection Act. Here is a link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Firearm_Owners_Protection_Act With the number of machine guns available to the unlicensed public fixed (or falling), and with demand increasing, the prices have gone up greatly in the last ten years.

    To operate a business that deals in the sale, import and manufacture of title 2 firearms requires a license called the federal firearms license (FFL) and the payment of a yearly tax called the special occupational tax (SOT). The SOT class 1 is for importers, class 2 for manufacturers and class 3 for dealers. While many people call machine guns class 3 weapons, they are more properly called title 2 firearms. You can read more about licensing here; http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/18/usc_sec_18_00000923----000-.html .

    A license is not required to own, buy, sell or make a title 2 firearm; except machine guns which can only be made by a FFL/SOT class 2 manufacturer. To buy a title 2 weapon, the ATF form 4 must be submitted to the ATF along with form 5330.20 attesting to US citizenship, finger print cards, two passport sized photographs and a check or money order for $200. The back of the AF form 4 is required to be signed by your local sheriff or other chief law enforcement officer. If the sheriff will not sign, you can ask a judge or District Attorney in your county to sign the form. If a signature can not be obtained, some people create a living trust or a corporation to own the silencer for them. In these cases the signature, photos and finger prints are not required, but the tax is still required to be paid.

    ATF approval is a routine matter and is always granted as long as the forms are filled out correctly. If you make a mistake, the ATF normally delays approval to send a letter back to you explaining how to fix it and make the approval happen in a timely matter. In order to fill out the forms properly, one must be at least 18 years old (21 if transfer from dealer), a US citizen and able to legally own a firearm. It is a crime to lie on the ATF tax stamp applications just as it is to misrepresent yourself on form 4473 when purchasing any other title 1 firearms from a dealer.

    While most title 2 firearms are bought trough a licensed dealer, this is not required if the buyer and seller reside in the same state. As long as the buyer presents the approved ATF form 4 to the seller, the transaction is legal. Interstate transfers must go through a licensed dealer.

    If a person wants to make any title 2 firearm (except a machine gun) without a license, then the ATF form 1 is submitted in the same manner as above. It is important that parts intended for use on the weapon not be made until you receive the approved ATF form 1 back with the canceled tax stamp. If repairs are required on a form 1 silencer, they can not result in lengthening the silencer tube, changing the bore, or replacing parts. The ATF has told people in the past that wipes (rubbers disks) are allowed to be replaced if the old wipes are destroyed first.

    You can order ATF forms by phone, mail or the internet. http://www.atf.gov/forms/firearms/ They can also be filled in and printed from here; http://www.titleii.com/TitleII.com/Welcome.html

    Information on some of the legalities of title 2 weapons. http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/26/usc_sup_01_26_10_E_20_53.html

    Some more interesting links.

    Evading the tax on title 2 firearms can result in fines up to half a million dollars and 5 years in prison. http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/26/7201.html

    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 22, 2015
    Mick1958 likes this.
  2. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

    Dec 6, 2009
    Your summary is excellent, but I think you need to place more emphasis on the fact that while some NFA items are legal (if registered) under Federal law, they may be illegal under state or local law. As a good example, suppressors (aka "silencers") are illegal in some states, and one state allows machineguns, but not semi-automatics or selective fire weapons, so an M3 SMG is legal, but a Thompson SMG is not.

    BATFE will not allow transfer into a state or locality where the firearm would be illegal (the actual reason for the CLEO signature), but sometimes people will take an NFA firearm into an area where it is illegal, even if it is registered under Federal law.


  3. CampingJosh

    CampingJosh Well-Known Member

    Sep 25, 2007
    For up-to-date understandings of NFA-related laws and rulings, the best source available is the NFA Handbook, a publication of BATFE.

    No printed version is available, as they update the thing too frequently to make that feasible. You can download the PDF here: http://www.atf.gov/publications/firearms/nfa-handbook/
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