All Newcomers - Read this FAQ FIRST before asking questions (Part 2)
Now then, let's say your state allows you to possess the NFA weapon you've got your heart set on. What next? Well in order for you to own the weapon, it has to be transferred to you. There are two ways of transferring the weapon. The first, and usually preferred method, is to transfer on BATF form 5320.4. You'll need to fill out and submit two forms to the BATF. You'll need to attach a 2"x2"picture of yourself to the form. You will also need to submit two sheets for your fingerprints. Either your dealer or the BATF can provide you with those. Lastly, you'll need the signoff/authorization signature from a chief law enforcement officer (CLEO) on the back of the form. This can be the sheriff of the county you live in, the chief of police, the local district attorney, chief of state police, or sometimes criminal court judges will work too. Your local BATF office can help you find out who else can sign the form. Once all of the paperwork is completed, you need to write a check to the BATF for the tax to transfer the weapon. For MG, SU, SBR, SBS, and all DDs, the tax is $200. For AOWs, the tax is $5. You can not group weapons in any manner. There is a tax for every single weapon.
Once you have all the paperwork filled out and check ready, send it to the BATF NFA branch. The average wait time is about 3 months. Sometimes it takes longer, sometimes it's faster.
The other method you can go about transferring a weapon is via a corporate route. The weapon can be transferred to an actual company, for example your own business if you are self-employed. The advantage to this is that you do not have to submit fingerprints, photographs or obtain the CLEO signature. The disadvantage to this is that the weapon is the property of the company, not YOU. So if your company goes under, the weapon must be transferred to someone.
Now after you the OK from the BATF, the weapon is yours! Remember though, some states may not like the NFA weapon you own (see the above list of states). You can <b>NOT</b> transport a MG, SBR, SBS or DD across state lines without prior approval from the BATF. You must submit BATF form 5320.20 to request permission to transport those weapons. You can transport any weapon to any location within your state, but interstate transport of those particular weapons must receive approval first.
<b>Section III: Questions people usually ask</b>
We get a lot of people who will sometimes read this stuff, yet still ask questions with obvious answers. Read the law. I'll try to post a number of the more popular ones...
Q: I just saw the Matrix (or some other movie) and Morpheus (or some other badass character) was packing a full auto Glock!!! I want one!!
A: Tough luck buddy. Unless you are law enforcement or are a dealer with a class III special occupational taxpayer (SOT) license and a letter from a LE department requesting a demo, all you can do is drool. In May 1986, Congress enacted a law that basically banned all new machine guns for civilian possession. That means that if you want to own any machine gun, you have to buy one that was registered prior to May 1986. Factory Glock 18s simply are not available. The ONLY possibility is that someone registered a sear or conversion device (like the ones that fit on the back of the slide) prior to May 1986. If there are some available, they'd command a hefty price. Also if you see anyone selling Glock full auto conversion kits, they are illegal. Discovery of such a device on a Glock or other semi-auto pistol by the BATF or local police will land you a free ticket to Club Fed.
Q: Why are the prices of machine guns so high?! I'm seeing them for like $5000 on up with no limit! What's the deal?
A: The deal is the stupid machine gun ban of May 1986 and law of supply and demand. When the actual '86 law was enacted, there were only a certain number of machine guns that civilians could possess. As time went on, more people wanted to own a machine gun - that means demand went up while supply stayed the same. That means the price also goes up. If more and more people become interested in this hobby, the prices will continue to climb.
Q: Isn't there any way to bring the prices back down?
A: Not really. Unless we can repeal the machine gun back from the '86 law, those prices will keep climbing. If you like to invest in odd things, that would be a good bet to throw some money at though. Perhaps if enough of us get angered by the machine gun ban we could get it repealed but I don't see that happening anytime soon. We already have liberals crying their eyes out that the 1994 Assault Weapons ban might not be renewed. We need to focus on one thing at a time.
Q: Why are certain NFA weapons prohibited in different states?
A: Who knows. Liberal politicians often do the most damage on subject matters like these in banning certain firearms or regulating them somehow. If you live in a state that prohibits civilian possession of your dreamy NFA weapon you have your heart set on, the easiest thing to do is to move to a 'free' state, unless you personally believe you have enough political power to get it changed that is.
Q: What's a 'free' state?
A: A state that does not prohibit any NFA weapon. Although some states may allow a weapon, you may have a very hard time obtaining it, such as in California. Offhand, some of the 'best' free states include: Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, utah.
Q: What's a 'DEWAT'?
A: DEWAT stands for deactivated war trophy.
Q: Can a DEWAT be reactivated?
A: Anything mechanical is possible with welding or parts. Sometimes it's ok with the BATF, other times not. Best thing to do is just call them with your specific question.
Q: I have an NFA weapon that is damaged. can it be repaired?
A: Most always, yes although the safest thing to do is call up the BATF and make sure your specific weapon can be repaired and they're ok with it. To also be on the safe side, submit BATF form 5320.5 for transfer to the gunsmith, than have gunsmith submit one when returning it to you.
Q: I've seen a machine gun that has a certain serial number on it, yet on the BATF form has a different number. What's up with that?
A: Likely you have a <i>converted</i> machine gun. After the Gun Control Act of 1968 was passed, certain foreign firearms were not able to be imported for civilians (see a trend here?). The only types of those guns that civilians could possess were those that were manufactured domestically (ie: Colt M16). So what happened is that independent U.S. manufacturers started making various components, like full auto sears, that you could insert into a firearm to make it full auto. This is fully legal, but the serial number you are seeing on the form is probably that of the sear. The BATF considers a sear a machine gun all on its own.
Q: Is it ok to put a suppressor on a machine gun?
Q: Don't certain shotguns fall under the category of large bore DD since they are in excess of 1/2" diameter?
A: You'd think so wouldn't you? Thank our politicians for that one. They were of the opinion that shotguns had "sporting purpose" of some sort, so those were given exemption. Again, see a trend here?
<i>edited to add:</i> Thanks to Mr. Blandings for bringing this to my attention as I had forgotten to add this.
Effective March 1, 1994, the Street Sweeper, Striker-12 and USAS-12 shotguns were reclassified as DDs under the NFA. They were deemed to have "no sporting purpose". Wow, the Assault Weapons ban and stating "certain" shotguns have no sporting purpose under Clinton's presidency. That trendline seems to be becoming more evident, eh?
Q: You mentioned class III dealers can get new machine guns. How?
A: First off, class III dealers can't just get them because they want them. I wish they could, but such is not always the case. First, they must have a written letter from a law enforcement agency or some sort of government entity stating they want to demo a certain weapon. That then gives the dealer permission to obtain the weapon.
Q: Do you have to be a special kind of dealer to obtain a machine gun for demo purposes?
A: Yes. First you must have a federal firearms license (FFL), type 01. This allows you to deal in all NFA weapons EXCEPT DDs. After that, you need to pay a class III SOT of $500.
Also, thanks to EKinOR for pointing out that if you are a dealer able to obtain post-ban machine guns and you do obtain one for demo purposes, you can keep that post-ban for as long as you want so long as you maintain your FFL/SOT.
Q: You said a type 01 license doesn't allow you to deal in DDs. What does?
A: A type 09 license will allow you to deal in DDs.
<b>Section IV: Final Comments</b>
I'll try to update this as needed, as laws do change from time to time and some other information may be beneficial. Feel free to PM me with specific questions. I'd prefer to NOT have responses added on to this sticky. Just start up a new thread with your question, assuming of course it can not be answered in this FAQ. Please do us all a favor and don't ask a question that has already been answered here. User hcook is also a good guy with experience in this area and is usually available to help out also.
Btw, the BATF NFA branch telephone number is 202-927-8330.
Thanks, this helped.
BTT, excellent information. Thanks :)
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