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Legally Armed: V21N7

Removal of Firearms from the National Firearms Act

By Teresa Ficaretta, ESQ. & Johanna Reeves, ESQ.

Many of our readers are very familiar with the stringent controls the National Firearms Act (NFA) imposes on certain firearms, including registration requirements, transfer taxes, restrictions on importation and the requirement for advance government approval before transfer. What may be less known or understood is how to remove a firearm from the purview of the NFA through modification or destruction. This article will address the required steps to remove covered firearms from the NFA.

I. A QUICK REVIEW OF THE CONTROLLING STATUTES

A. THE NATIONAL FIREARMS ACT

The NFA imposes strict controls only over those firearms identified in the statute. These include short-barrel shotguns, short-barrel rifles, machineguns, silencers, destructive devices and other concealable firearms known as “any other weapons.” We will discuss each of these types of firearms further below.

The statute imposes on manufacturers, importers and makers of controlled firearms marking requirements, registration requirements and the need to obtain advance ATF approval for all transfers of registered firearms. A transfer tax of $200 is imposed on each firearm transferred, but exceptions from the tax are available for transfers between qualified Federal Firearms Licensees (FFLs) as well as transfers to federal, state and local government agencies. The NFA authorizes importation of NFA firearms for limited purposes, such as for government agencies, scientific or research purposes, or testing or use as a model or sample by qualified FFLs.

B. THE GUN CONTROL ACT

For the purposes of this article, we focus on section 922(o) of the GCA, which makes it unlawful for any person to transfer or possess a machinegun. The only exceptions to this prohibition are transfers to or by, or possession by or under the authority of, the United States, a state or a local government agency. The machinegun prohibition does not apply to any lawful transfer or possession of a machinegun that was lawfully possessed before the effective date of the statute (May 19, 1986).

II. REMOVAL OF FIREARMS FROM THE NFA

A. SHORT-BARREL RIFLES AND SHORT-BARREL SHOTGUNS

An NFA-controlled rifle is a rifle having a barrel...

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V21N7 (September 2017)
and was posted online on July 21, 2017

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