The American Silencer Association (ASA) wants Fox News personality Bill O’Reilly to immediately make on-air corrections of factual inaccuracies he made about current firearm regulations during his July 24 interview with Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT). The debate, which focused on the validity of additional gun control measures in response to the tragic events in Aurora, CO, found O’Reilly calling for stricter oversight of the firearms transfer process. ASA pointed out that O’Reilly consistently misstated current gun-law requirements. ASA pointed out that O’Reilly used the nonsense term “heavy weapons,” which O’Reilly defined as “mortars, howitzers and machineguns.” These three items are defined and strictly regulated by the National Firearms Act of 1934, which falls under the jurisdiction of the BATFE. Under the NFA, mortars and howitzers are considered “destructive devices” because they fire projectiles through a barrel which is larger than one-half inch in diameter.
“Machineguns” are defined as “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.” In addition to machineguns and destructive devices, the NFA also regulates suppressors, short-barrel rifles, short-barrel shotguns, and “any-other weapons.” In the Chaffetz interview, O’Reilly also stated that “you can buy a machine gun and the FBI doesn’t know,” reiterating his point by claiming that at gun shows “you can buy any weapon you want there and there’s no reporting anywhere.” In a release, ASA pointed out that these statements are entirely and unequivocally untrue.
For a civilian to purchase any item that is regulated by the NFA, the item must be legal in that person’s state of residence, and the buyer must submit Form 4s to the ATF. A Form 4, or Application for Tax Paid Transfer and Registration of Firearm, includes a stringent background check that is conducted by the FBI.
In addition, applicants must submit a $200 non-refundable transfer tax, duplicate copies of passport photos and fingerprints, and receive a signoff from a chief law enforcement officer (CLEO) in their jurisdiction. From start to finish, this transfer process takes anywhere from 30 days to one year to complete.
Additionally, civilians are only eligible to purchase machineguns that were manufactured and registered with the ATF prior to May 19, 1986, the day that President Reagan signed the Firearms Owners’ Protection Act into law.
Also, ASA pointed out that throughout the Chaffetz debate, O’Reilly used the term AK-47 interchangeably with machinegun. The ASA release pointed out that while fully automatic AK-47s are machineguns, referring to semi-automatic variants as machineguns is inaccurate.
The fully automatic versions that O’Reilly refers to are subject to the strict transfer requirements of the NFA, the ASA release said. Thus, O’Reilly’s statement that “you can buy an AK-47 in this country, and no federal agency will know you buy it” is false, unless the AK-47 is semi-automatic.