The history of the National Firearms Act

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The National Firearms Act (NFA) of 1934 is a federal law in the United States that regulates the manufacture, transfer, and possession of certain types of firearms and accessories. The law was passed in response to a wave of gang violence in the early 1930s, which was thought to be fueled in part by the easy availability of machine guns and other “gangster weapons.”

The NFA places strict controls on the possession and transfer of certain types of firearms, including machine guns, short-barreled rifles and shotguns, silencers, and “destructive devices” such as bombs and grenades. These items are known as “NFA firearms” and are subject to a $200 tax and a strict registration process. In addition, the NFA also requires manufacturers and importers of NFA firearms to register with the federal government and pay a special tax.

The NFA was initially met with strong opposition from the firearms industry and gun rights groups, who argued that it was a violation of the Second Amendment. However, the law was upheld by the Supreme Court in the 1939 case United States v. Miller, which held that the Second Amendment does not protect the possession of weapons that are not “part of the ordinary military equipment” or that do not have “some reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well-regulated militia.”

Over the years, the NFA has been amended several times, including in 1968 with the passage of the Gun Control Act, which further restricted the possession and transfer of firearms, including NFA firearms. However, despite these changes, the NFA has remained largely unchanged since its original passage in 1934.

One of the most significant changes to the NFA came in 1986 with the passage of the Firearm Owners Protection Act, which banned the manufacture and transfer of new machine guns for civilian use. This effectively froze the number of legally owned machine guns at the number that existed in 1986. As a result, the prices for machine guns on the civilian market have skyrocketed, with some models selling for tens of thousands of dollars.

In recent years, there has been renewed debate over the NFA and its effectiveness in reducing crime and violence. Proponents argue that the law helps to keep dangerous weapons out of the hands of criminals and helps to prevent mass shootings. Critics, on the other hand, argue that the NFA is a violation of the Second Amendment and does little to prevent crime.

In 2020, there was an increase in the number of individuals applying to register NFA firearms, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, civil unrest and the political climate of the country, which created a sense of uncertainty and a potential for future restriction on firearms, this led to a backlog in the process of registration and transfer of NFA firearms.

In conclusion, the National Firearms Act of 1934 is a federal law that regulates the possession, manufacture, and transfer of certain types of firearms and accessories. Despite facing opposition and being amended over the years, the law remains in effect and continues to be a source of debate and discussion in the United States. The NFA is a complex law that has had a significant impact on the firearms industry and the rights of gun owners.