SITREP: May 1999

By Dan Shea

I’ve been catching some flak lately- nothing too serious, just a couple of shots across the bow. I thought this might be a good point to address the issues that have been brought up. Probably the most prevalent complaint has to do with “Toy” articles. When we first started to run these, there were a lot of positive comments. Most were in the vein of “Where can I find these antiques”, “Love the memorabilia articles”, “How about putting values on these items so that as I find them, I know what to pay”. However, this positive response has “Petered” off and been replaced with “Hey! How about more gun articles?” “If toys are all that we Class 3 owners are reduced to having, we should just give up”, and similar negatories.

I don’t mean these concerns aren’t serious, I simply mean that the situation is fixable. There were several reasons for the “Emmageeman’s Corner” being used- partially because of filling out a color section of SAR quite handsomely, and partially because many of us do like these articles.

The solution here seems to be in the form of a compromise- I have asked Robert Segel to do some articles on machine gun accessories for his next group of “Emmageeman’s Corner”. These will include photo essays on water cans for machine guns, Anti-Aircraft sights for machine guns, and items in a similar manner. Then, on occasion, we will spice things up with another machine gun memorabilia article. Hopefully, this will service the Class 3 community with a nice photographic identification series for those hard to figure accessories.

Other comments from the readers have been in regard to what they would like to see more of in SAR. Belt fed articles top the list, followed closely by “How-to” articles, as in “How to headspace and time a 1919 Browning Machine Gun” (Coming in the next issue), “How to change calibers on a Vickers Gun”, etc. Next is a series of Thompson articles by different authors, and we have some real good competition submachine gun articles coming up.

Remember that if you, the reader, send us your thoughts on what you want to see in SAR, we will listen and try to give you more of it.

Amnesty talk: I am hearing a lot more talk about Congress looking at an Amnesty similar to the 1968 one in regard to machine guns. The talk is coming from “Our” side of course; the “Other” side is saying, “When hell freezes over”. I am an advocate of an Amnesty period being declared where the general public has a year to register any machine guns that are either not on the NFRTR or have been accidentally deleted from it. This one year period is to be used to correct the flaws in the NFRTR. The reason is simple: the NFRTR, which is the registry of all NFA firearms, is demonstrably “Off”. This means that if someone has a machine gun that was taxed and registered, but the government doesn’t have a record of it, that person may find themselves the target of an ATF raid, with the ensuing life threatening and lifestyle threatening consequences. It may have already happened to someone.

The NFRTR is quoted as being accurate for the purposes of prosecution- if the firearm in question is not on the registry, then it must be an untaxed, unregistered firearm. This situation is similar to the FBI’s fingerprint system. At present, the FBI can certify in court that “The defendant’s fingerprints are on the item”. Imagine for a moment that two people are found who have identical fingerprints. The new testimony would have to be “Fingerprints very like the defendant’s were on the item”. Sounds a lot different, doesn’t it? It sure would in a courtroom. Well, if the NFRTR is not 100% accurate, then an ATF agent’s testimony would change from “This firearm is not on the NFRTR, and the NFRTR is accurate” to “This firearm is not on the NFRTR, but we are only partially accurate in our records”.

It would seem that an Amnesty would be necessary to fix the situation, so long as this period was used to make the corrections to the NFRTR. I don’t expect to see one any time soon, but that doesn’t mean I won’t advocate one.

Dan Shea

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V2N8 (May 1999)
and was posted online on April 29, 2016


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