General

Is the National Firearms Act Headed for Extinction Like the Dinosaur It Is?

Freaking News T-Rex with assault rifle

A few weeks ago, two men were convicted in Kansas under the National Firearms Act for doing what was legal under state law. The feds ignored a state law that prohibited the federal government from enforcing any laws restricting firearms within the borders of Kansas.

By Michael Wisdom

Courtesy of FreakingNews.com
Courtesy of FreakingNews.com

This showdown pitted States Rights and the Second Amendment against the taxing power of the federal government. Caught in the middle were two men acting under the guidance of the state law, believing their activity to be protected from interference from Washington. That was not the case.

In this article, we will explore the history behind the NFA and why now may be the right time to challenge its constitutionality.

History

The year was 1934. It was a different era in America. We were in the midst of the Great Depression. Unemployment was 22 percent. Newly elected President Franklin Roosevelt pledged to bring about recovery by government intervention through his New Deal. The Public Works Administration was created to clear the slums of New York and build public housing.

The average house cost less than $6,000. Rental houses went for $20 per month. Gas was 10 cents a gallon.  Average wages were about $1,600 per year.

As part of the government intervention, the U. S. Housing Authority and the Securities and Exchange Commission were formed. The Alcohol Tax Unit (ATU) was formed under the Department of Treasury and would later become the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) in 1970.

Prohibition had just ended in December of 1933 and the country was ill-prepared to re-establish the legal liquor industry. Criminal syndicates continued to illegally produce and distribute distilled spirits.  Organized crime escalated as gangs battled for control of underground distilleries and distribution networks. Machine guns continued to be the weapon of choice.

It was the time of Elliot Ness, the Special Agent in Charge of the ATU in Cincinnati. And John Dillinger, Bonnie & Clyde, Baby Face Nelson.

Congress, in an attempt to address crime, passed the National Firearms Act of 1934 under the guise of a revenue enhancement measure. As enacted, the NFA 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,” machine guns, and firearm mufflers and silencers.

While the NFA was an exercise of the taxing authority of Congress, it had an underlying purpose to curtail or even prohibit the transactions in NFA firearms. The $200 making and transfer taxes on most NFA firearms were considered quite severe at the time and adequate to carry out Congress’ purpose to discourage or eliminate transactions in these firearms. The $200 tax has not changed since 1934.

Furthermore, the NFA imposed a duty on persons transferring NFA firearms, as well as mere possessors of unregistered firearms, to register them with the Secretary of the Treasury. If the possessor of an unregistered firearm applied to register the firearm as required by the NFA, the Treasury Department would supply information to State authorities about the registrant’s possession of the firearm. State authorities could then use the information to prosecute the person whose possession violated State laws.

In 1938, Congress passed the Federal Firearms Act of 1938 (FFA), imposing a federal license requirement on gun manufacturers, importers, and persons in the business of selling firearms. The law also required licensees to maintain customer records, and it made illegal the transfer of firearms to certain classes of persons, such as convicted felons. These classes of persons are commonly referred to as “prohibited persons.

Both the NFA and the FFA were enforced by the ATU.

The Supreme Court in 1968 held in the case of Haynes v. United States, 390 U.S. 85 (1968), that a person prosecuted for possessing an unregistered NFA firearm had a valid defense to the prosecution — the registration requirement imposed on the possessor of an unregistered firearm violated the possessor’s privilege from self-incrimination under the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The Haynes decision made the 1934 Act virtually unenforceable.

That same year, Congress sought to cure the constitutional flaw the Haynes decision pointed out by enacting the Gun Control Act of 1968 (GCA).

Gun Control Act of 1968

Under the GCA, the requirement for possessors of unregistered firearms to register was removed as there was no mechanism for a possessor to register an unregistered NFA firearm already possessed by the person. Additionally, a provision was added to the law prohibiting the use of any information from an NFA application or registration as evidence against the person in a criminal proceeding with respect to a violation of law occurring prior to or concurrently with the filing of the application or registration. In 1971, the Supreme Court reexamined the NFA in United States v. Freed, 401 U.S. 601 (1971) and found that the 1968 amendments cured the constitutional defect in the original NFA, that the Act’s registration requirements do not violate the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution.

The GCA also amended the NFA definitions of “firearm” by adding “destructive devices” and expanding the definition of machine gun.”

The NFA was amended once more in 1986 with the passage of the Firearm Owners Protection Act to prohibit the transfer or possession of machine guns. Exceptions were made for transfers of machine guns to, or possession of machine guns by, government agencies, and those lawfully possessed before the effective date of the prohibition, May 19, 1986. It further amended the NFA definition of “silencer” by adding combinations of parts for silencers and any part intended for use in the assembly or fabrication of a silencer.

Current Day

And that brings us to the case of United States v. Shane Cox and Jeremy Kettler, 6:15-cr-10150-JTM-01,02, in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas.

On November 14, 2016, Cox was found guilty of violating federal law, in particular the NFA, for the manufacture, sale and possession of unregistered firearms and silencers, and Kettler was found guilty on one count for possessing the unregistered silencer.

The NFA requires that firearms and accessories such as silencers bear the name of the manufacturer, the city or state where they are made and a serial number. Cox, owner of an Army surplus store in Chanute, KS, called Tough Guys, was manufacturing and selling silencers without a serial number, they were not registered, nor did he have a federal license to manufacture NFA items.

Shane Cox's store in Chanute, Kansas

Sounds pretty straight forward, doesn’t it?

Not so fast.

In 2013, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback signed into law the strictest Second Amendment protection law in the nation. “The Second Amendment Protection Act, (SAPA).

Kansas legislators considered the bill to be a “jobs bill” in hopes of keeping gun manufacturers from leaving the State. SAPA provides Kansas residents protection of their Second Amendment rights by exemption from federal gun control laws, including bans or restrictions on certain guns, magazines or ammunition, for all guns and accessories within the state’s borders.

Specifically:

Any act, law, treaty, order, rule or regulation of the government of the United States which violates the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States is null, void and unenforceable in the state of Kansas.

The law also prevents any federal agent from enforcing federal gun control laws within the state, as well as allowing prosecution of federal officers who try to enforce such laws within the state’s borders. Then U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder sent a letter to Brownback saying, in his opinion, the law was in conflict with federal law and therefore unconstitutional. Further, Holder stated that “Under the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution, Kansas may not prevent federal employees and officials from carrying out their official responsibilities.”

Cox, relying upon SAPA, began manufacturing silencers for sale to Kansas residents, and even handed them a copy of SAPA with their purchase. Kettler purchased a “so-called illegal” silencer from Cox. Both parties believed their activities were legal in Kansas under state law.

Furthermore, silencers are legal to own in 42 states, including Kansas, but are regulated by federal law and on a state-by-state basis by the Nation Firearm Act (NFA) branch of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BAFTE).

The Legal Battle Between States and the Federal Government

Cox and Kettler are caught in the “crossfire” between State’s Rights under the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and Article VI, Clause 2 of the Constitution, known as the Supremacy Clause. The Supremacy Clause establishes that the Constitution, federal laws made pursuant to it, and treaties made under its authority, constitute the supreme law of the land. It provides that state courts are bound by the supreme law; in case of conflict between federal and state law, the federal law must be applied. Even state constitutions are subordinate to federal law.

The first challenge to the NFA occurred in the case of United States v. Miller, 26 F. Supp. 1002 (W.D. Ark. 1939)Miller involved a criminal prosecution under the National Firearms Act of 1934, challenging the relevant section of the NFA as an unconstitutional violation of the Second Amendment.

Miller, a known bank robber, was arrested for carrying an unregistered sawed-off shotgun across state lines.

The District Judge Hiram Heartsill Ragon, for the United States District Court for the Western District of Arkansas, dismissed the indictment, holding that the NFA violated the Second Amendment. The case was then quickly appealed to the Supreme Court.

But here is where it gets interesting.

The case was heard before the Court on March 30, 1939. Attorneys for the United States appeared and argued: 1) the NFA is intended as a revenue-collecting measure and therefore within the authority of the Department of the Treasury; 2) the defendant transported the shotgun from Oklahoma to Arkansas, and therefore used it in interstate commerce; 3) the Second Amendment protects only the ownership of military-type weapons appropriate for use in an organized militia; and 4) the “double barrel 12-gauge shotgun having a barrel less than 18 inches in length was never used in any militia organization.

Neither Miller nor his attorneys appeared to present an argument nor evidence to counter the government’s position, including the argument that sawed-off shotguns were common in the trenches during the First World War.

Therefore, the Supreme Court reversed the lower court’s ruling, holding the Second Amendment does not guarantee the right to keep and bear a sawed-off shotgun as a matter of law and the NFA did not violate the Second Amendment. See United States v. Miller, 307 U.S. 174 (1939).

In his opinion, Justice James Clark McReynolds assumed the Second Amendment guarantees the right to keep and bear arms in order to ensure an effective militia exists. However, he concluded that whether or not the Second Amendment guaranteed an individual right to keep and bear arms, it hardly prohibited Congress from taxing particular weapons through the likes of the NFA nor from regulating firearms. Furthermore, McReynolds adopted the government’s argument presented in its brief to the Court: the Second Amendment does not protect weapons used by criminals.

And for nearly seventy years, Miller remained the only case interpreting the Second Amendment, until District of Columbia v Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008) that held the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to possess a firearm for traditionally lawful purposes, and that “Miller stands only for the proposition that the Second Amendment right, whatever its nature, extends only to certain types of weapons.” And no other case attempted to challenge the NFA on constitutional grounds.

But now, the Cox case may be just the right case at the right time to present the Supreme Court with another opportunity to review the restrictions of the NFA from their interpretation of the Second Amendment and with a new view towards Miller.

The Supreme Court in Miller ruled that Congress had the right to regulate certain types of firearms, as the Second Amendment existed so that citizens could acquire privately-owned weapons for militia use. For the most part, the weapons that were regulated by the NFA were not military weapons at the time, although some would argue the sawed-off shotgun, with a barrel length of less than eighteen inches, was a commonly used weapon in World War I.

In modern usage, minimum length and barrel length restrictions only apply to civilian use; military and police departments may issue short-barreled shotguns, and major manufacturers offer special models with barrels in the range of 10 to 14 inches as riot shotguns or combat shotguns for use in areas with restricted space. In fact, Mossberg offers its Model 590A1 with a 14-inch barrel to the military and to law enforcement agencies.

Originally, the NFA required rifles to have a minimum barrel length of 18 inches. However, following World War II and the Korean War, many surplus M1 carbines with 16-inch barrels found their way into the hands of civilians, so the NFA changed its regulations to require minimum barrel lengths of 16 inches for rifles. Today, however, the military commonly uses an M4 carbine with a 14 inch barrel.

How can the government reconcile the restrictions on ownership of machine guns in light of  Miller since automatic weapons are commonly used by our military? The only position the government ever put forth was that sub-machine guns were used by criminals, and by taxing them, it would effectively restrict their use.

Suppressors (“silencers” as they are commonly referred to) are used by military snipers and special forces, so, once again, the restrictions put forth by the NFA conflict with the Second Amendment as interpreted under Miller.

The Future

So what does all this mean for the NFA going forward?

If Cox is appealed all the way to the Supreme Court, which could take years, it will be heard before a much different Court than even the Heller Court that first upheld the fundamental, constitutional individual right to keep and bear arms.

President-elect Donald Trump has pledged to appoint conservative justices favoring states’ rights and federalism rather than liberal justices that view the Constitution as a “living document” subject to the whims of the current panel of judges.

If a conservative Supreme Court adopts a strict interpretation of the text of the Constitution, it is not inconceivable that the Court could view the Second Amendment as a restriction upon the federal government to impose any regulation whatsoever that infringes upon the fundamental right to keep and bear arms, returning the right back to the states under the Tenth Amendment (powers not delegated to the federal government under the Constitution are reserved to the States).

If so, the National Firearms Act may just find itself relegated to the history books, like the dinosaur it is.

What do you think will be the future of the National Firearms Act? Share your answers in the comment section.


Originally posted on the Texas & U.S. Law Shield Blog

The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (36)

  1. Since selective enforcement was mentioned in comments, and in the article, I think I saw a reference to prohibiting Federal Agents in the exercise of their duty, I have a few questions.

    1) Why is it that only a few guys, who are pro gun, are being used as targets for selective prosecution?

    2) Where is the legal case going after States, Cities, counties, etc protecting illegal immigration? These repeatedly violate the federal law daily, and have openly announced that they will interfere with federal agents executing their duty.
    So why are California, New York, and other states not caught up in court for disobeying federal law? As well as the individual Leftist politicians, who openly announce, that they will interfere with ICE agents doing their duty?

    3) I thought it was unconstitutional to tax rights? The Second Amendment is a right is it not? So how is the NFA legal at all?

    4) The position that “you can only have what is used in war” is completely bogus. In war you use whatever is at hand. Short barrel shotguns and rifles, have been in use since the 1st war after their creation as tools of war. I promise you, if the weapon was in the area of conflict it got used.
    The VC used fecal matter as a tool of war, so don’t tell me that short barrel weapons haven’t.
    So why hasn’t someone used this to challenge the NFA in court?

  2. Fairly good article about the Kansas situation and NFA, but you fell of the track big time with this inaccurate representation of the Supremacy Clause. You also are giving the Federal Courts the authority over this issue in Kansas when it is NOT IN THEIR JURISDICTION!

    “It provides that state courts are bound by the supreme law; in case of conflict between federal and state law, the federal law must be applied. Even state constitutions are subordinate to federal law.”

    WRONG! THERE IS NOTHING TO THAT EFFECT IN THE SUPREMACY CLAUSE! IF FEDERAL LAW THAT IS CLEARLY UNCONSTITUTIONAL CONFLICTS WITH A STATE LAW THAT IS CONSTITUTIONAL, THEN THE STATE LAW TRUMPS FEDERAL LAWS AND REGULATIONS BECAUSE IT IS “PURSUANT TO THE CONSTITUTION” AND THE FEDERAL LAW IS NOT!

  3. Miller died before the case was heard by the Supreme Court. The case was moot at the point, but the Feds kept enforcing the ‘law’.

  4. NFA ’34 was a jobs program for Treasury agents, recently put out of work by Prohibition repeal. The entire episode surrounding its enactment and court test is disgraceful (not the least, NRA’s performance in the matter).

  5. Great article! Definately thought provoking. Under the constitution’s taxing power and to regulating items in commerce, I think the Kansas law violates the supremacy clause. Kansas likely could have passed a law that was not preempted if they forced the sale, manufacture, and distribution to occur only within its state, to it citizenry. The commerce clause provides a legitimate basis (under current law, as seen from decades of U.S. Supreme Court precedent) to regulate items passing beteeen states in commerce. Because of this, and because Kansas’ law was not more cleverly drafted, I strongly suspect it will be overruled as violating the supremacy clause, and challenges to the federal laws governing silencers, machine guns, etc. will fail because Congress power to create these these is justified under its taxing power and power to regulate commerce between states.

    1. Take a close look at the Supreme Court ruling back in 1939. No one from the defense appeared at all, and the Gov’t lied through it’s teeth, and even so, the Court ruled that the law could stand only because no body had shown that a short barreled shotgun was a weapon in common use by the military of the day. Thus, even by that court’s ruling, weapons that WERE appropriate to Military/Militia use would have been out of bounds to gov’t control.

      And as for the fiction that the NFA 34 was/is a revenue generating act, which was the only reason it got passed in the first place, simple book keeping checks would show that it has cost many times as much in enforcement costs as it ever brought in in revenues!

  6. Originally, the Bill of Rights in the constitution only applied to the federal government. That is why if you look at the state constitutions of the New England states, you’ll see they have a very similarly worded Bill of Rights in which applies to their state laws. The Civil War changed that, and the 14th amendment applied selective federal “rights” to all states. But some say not all amendments were incorporated to the states via the 14th amendment, and that’s the excuse they use for the 2nd. I’m not a legal scholar, so I don’t know for sure. If that is the case, then California is the worst place for gun rights, because their state constitution has no right to keep and bear arms amendment. I do believe the federal government has over reached on firearms laws, as shall not be infringed is pretty clear to me. But that doesn’t mean a state can over ride it — you have to get that law found unconstitutional.

  7. So, the Feds saw fit to go after these two guys because a State was “violating” Federal law. Yet, every single marijuana dispensary and pot-shop “authorized” within their respective States is allowed to continue unmolested.

    Is anyone aware of a precedent involving selective enforcement of Federal law, or where if the Fed allows an obvious violation of one law, how can it justify the enforcement of another of it’s laws?

  8. They knew what they were doing was against the law, and used the state law to make it right , they could have done it Right by federal law but choose not to , if I wanted to put a suppersors on any of my guns I would pay the taxes and have it registered. They knew this regardless of what state law said and now everyone who purchased from them faces ,fines or prison time , and they did not know all this to make a dollar, I have almost been talked into doing things, by people telling you there’s a loop hole ,it’s legal. The thangs about holes there is always someone with a shovel, buy legally and you don’t have to worry about legal fees.

  9. I”d just like to point out that states don’t have “rights”, they have the powers we give them only.

    People have rights – states have powers – they only have those powers because we the people give them those powers.

    I like making this distinction because in today’s society, it seems like people want to give “rights” to animals, planets, you name it – and that detracts from our God given rights as human beings – I’ll never respect anything less!!

    1. When I read the second amendment, it seems to show that it does not
      “give” anyone a “right” to own a gun. It doesn’t give anything. It does
      “FORBID” the federal government the right to ‘INFRINGE” on the right
      of citizens to ” keep and bear arms”. ” SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED”,
      is clear. If enough citizens don’t find it aplicable now,THEN CHANGE IT.
      don’t try to ignore it.

    2. Point of order. The 2nd Amendment doesn’t forbid the FEDERAL government, it forbids ALL LEVELS OF GOVERNMENT from infringing those rights! The 1st Amendment forbids federal interference with the rights it enumerates, but the 2A is different.

    3. Thanks James and Richard – I get disgusted when it seems like many Constitutional scholars have respect for the original Articles of the Constitution, but treat the Bill of Rights, like an ugly step child, and an afterthought of the founding fathers. They want it to be a “living” document subject to change – but fundamental human rights CANNOT change, and they never will!!

    4. Just to clarify, the second amendment is THE LAW. Period. Constitutions enumerate all of the privileges granted to government in their entirety. The second also applies to state and local levels. There is no qualifying clause like “Congress shall make no law…” in the second. Keep and bear means own and possess. And a well regulated militia is a responsible citizenry skilled in the use of every terrible instrument of the soldier.

      Of course, we are ruled by illegitimate criminals so until we individually assert our rights they are irrelevant.

      Also it is really hard to argue for a prohibited class of sub citizens and argue that your own rights are sacred. Either ex felons are citizens after paying their price, or they aren’t. And if they aren’t, they shouldn’t be out.

    5. Good post! I actually believe in your statement on paying society for past transgressions. It does seem like folks now days forget that you can at the very least temporarily lose much of your freedoms/and/or rights, by due process. I guess it depends on how you look at it, but I like your simple black and white narrative.

  10. Once again, a thoughtful and thought-provoking article. Thanks for posting it. Actually, unless Ginsberg drops dead of a stroke and Sotamayor chokes on a Christmas tamale, it will take some time for new justices to assume their seats with the Supremes. With Trump elected Ginsberg will probably do a William O. Douglas and stay on the court until she is an embarrassment to all the other justices, falling asleep during arguments and wetting herself on the bench, just to keep Trump from appointing a conservative Supreme.

    It is to our advantage this time that cases take a long time to wind their way through the various courts to reach the hallowed halls of the U.S. Supremes.

    Of all the trough suckers that need term limits, federal judges at all levels are really at the top of list. They get appointed for life. When that provision was set up, folks didn’t last as long as they do these days. A federal judge was usually dead in ten years, so term limits were not needed. Now we have people appointed to the bench in their mid-fifties and they can live to be 90 and like a red wine stain on a white linen tablecloth, no matter how hard you try, you just can’t get rid of them. William O. Douglas was the worst example and the best argument for term limits in the world.

  11. Well, the federal govt. messed up our education system by over-riding state’s rule, they screwed up the railroad system, etc. etc., so it’s no surprise that they would over-ride state’s authority on 2nd amendment issues…that over-riding being unconstitutional itself. Bottom line, our fed. govt. has gotten too big and restrictive and needs to be reigned in. With luck, our new President might get some of that done….one can only hope.

  12. The real reason for the NFA was to reduce the civilian population’s ‘force parity’ in relation to the military in case of civil insurrection.

    This occurred in reaction to the planned coup against the lawfully elected government by business interests opposed to FDR’s evident socialist plans. Look up the so-called ‘Business Plot’ and the attempt to recruit Marine General Smedley D. Butler to lead the military operation, which was investigated by Congress but no arrests were made, despite an abundance of evidence.

    Then as now, gangsters were the public excuse for legislation restricting the 2nd Amendment; preventing any challenge to the Federal government monopoly on force was the real reason for NFA 1934..

  13. I have a problem with the second to last paragraph of the article. The tenth amendment doesn’t apply to the Second Amendment! Think about it. The First Amendment says “Congress shall make no law …” This would indicate, to me at least, that the states CAN make laws concerning the civil rights listed in that amendment. On the other hand, the Second Amendment says, “shall not be infringed”, which seems to apply it to ALL levels of government. States may, constitutionally, establish a state religion, if they wish, but NOBODY can infringe the twin rights to own (keep) and carry (bear) weapons (arms) of ALL types (not just firearms)!

  14. Getting rid of the NFA will be a tough fight, but it’s a fight we must endure, and we must persevere. NFA is extremely entrenched, and ATF has made sure the bureaucracy is large enough to maintain the clout to overwhelm attack. But as the author points out, it’s a dinosaur that must be killed. It serves no interest at all, other than feeding a metastasizing federal government. I pray that Pres. elect Trump will keep his promises to appoint federal judges who will honor and respect the Constitution.

  15. Again the problem with the NFA is the SBR category when enacted in 1934 revolvers and pistols didn’t have the firepower that they do today with new ammo designs and magazine capacities. SBR firearms category is antiquated and obsolete and should be removed from the NFA

  16. A new National Large Truck Act (NLTA) will be needed if America follows the trends beings demonstrated recently in European countries. Funny, I don’t hear anyone outlawing big trucks. A career in the military requiring duty and travel through many countries made it very apparent that those who lacked the ability to defend themselves, are constantly under threat of bodily harm or death, from those who possess even crude weapons as knives, machetes, axes and farm implements.

  17. Even assuming it gets appealed that far, this case will take years to reach the Supreme Court. Given that in short order we will no longer have a President hostile to the Bill of Rights, a faster path will be legislation.

  18. So if you are on the side of the 2A the NFA is not your friend and I’m okay with that. I have never thought the federal gov. should have any authority over the states and I still believe strongly about that. The feds have enjoyed the bullying pulpit for way to long and should have been reined in long ago. The thing I have issue with is what the states are not doing. I cannot help to wonder why the states who pass new laws (KS) in this case clearly saying that the constituents of the state are in their legal rights to own/build/make/produce certain types of firearms and accessories which would otherwise be illegal under the NFA but are legal under the SAPA laws in said state. If the states legislatures are going to follow their rights under the Tenth Amendment why then does the state not protect the constituents and the their rights by enforcing the SAPA laws they put in place. I dare say nothing would happen in the way of a showdown and the most that would happen is the feds back down but I also dare say the federal government would certainly realize they have received their due notice. If the states are to only pass laws such as the SAPA and not actually and physically enforce them what then is the point of it all.

    1. This is an wxcwlllent point being made. The state should defend their law and residents. Colorado is doing so fighting the potential federal attack on legalizing marijuana.

      This is also similar to the whining about voter ID compared with taxes to complete background checks when purchasing or transferring a firearm.

  19. The NFA never should have come into existence. First, it violated the 2nd Amend Second, it was billed as a public safety issue, just as they claim today, against, primarily, organized crime. It never stopped organized crime from using firearms or explosives. No different than Prohibition. It circumvented the Constitution which sets the manner for change. It just happened to follow in the footsteps of FDR’s election, shortly after which there was an assassination attempt made against FDR. Essentially, a typical kneejerk reaction to made up problems.

  20. The NFA is unconstitutional right off the bat, by its attempt to regulate into oblivion via taxation the weapons listed therein. Any and all firearms laws written since the Bill of Rights was enacted are likewise unconstitutional to the extent that they make firearms purchases, usage, ownership, repair or maintenance any more difficult than the simple price paid to buy the firearm, ammo or maintenance and repair supplies and services, or impose a requirement of any governmental application for permitting whereby the applicant can be denied for any reason. None of these regulations or permitting requirements are mentioned as permissible in the 2A, nor does the 2A mention the permissibility of certain restrictions by certain people or for certain purposes. “SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED” is as clear as it can get, yet it has been ignored by so many for so long ! How then, if convicted domestic abusers and felons and mentally ill people are not background-checked (another violation of 2A), do we keep guns out of their hands? Automatic death penalty without appeal if they use a gun in a crime, even if they do not fire it. Hold up a convenience store and get videotaped holding a gun pointed at the cashier? Case closed, Green Mile for you, perp !

    1. There is no need for “enhancement” of penalties and the demonization of firearms caused by your scheme. Simply punish murder as murder, robbery as robbery, etcetera. Leave firearms out of the equation, same as Buck knives and Louisville Sluggers.

    2. It has always been understood that your rights are sacrificed when you get convicted of a crime – loss of ownership rights would just be one of those rights that become restricted when convicted.

  21. The NFA violates the Constitution. It should be repealed. By the same token, crimes committed with firearms should be severely punished. Decades long prison sentences with no access to firearms.

    1. There is no need to demonize firearms through “enhanced” punishments. Punish a murder as a murder, whether committed with a submachinegun, a Buck knife, or a Louisville Slugger.

    2. Very true. And because so much attention is often placed on the weapon used in the commission of a crime, especially where guns are concerned, the crime becomes over shadowed and goes unnoticed. But then from the liberal gun grabbers point of view the crime it’s self does not advance their agendas.

    3. If you follow this philosophy then the implementation of the crime/weapon becomes more important than the crime. The guy who shoots someone to death should get more time than the lady that puts her baby in the dryer? or the guy that shoots someone should get more time than the person that timely shoved another in front of a subway car? Crime should be judge on execution, mens rea, and proper burden of proof

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