NFA Basics

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What is the NFA?

The National Firearms Act of 1934 ("NFA) is the law that regulates the use and possess of certain types of firearms and devices. The NFA was originally enacted to curtail, if not prohibit, the ability of law-abiding U.S. citizens to purchase shotguns and rifles having barrels less than 18 inches in length, certain firearms described as “any other weapons,” machine guns, and suppressors (collectively, “NFA firearms”). The $200 making and transfer taxes on most NFA firearms were considered draconious enough to carry out the U.S. government’s attempts to discourage or eliminate transactions in these firearms. The $200 tax has not changed since 1934.

What is an NFA firearm?

Firearms regulated by the National Firearms Act (“NFA”), such as fully-automatic weapons (also known as "machine guns"), short-barreled rifles ("SBRs"), short-barreled shotguns ("SBSs"), and sound suppressors (also known as "mufflers" and "silencers") are commonly known as "NFA firearms," formally known as "Title II weapons," and oftentimes incorrectly referred to as "Class 3” firearms or weapons. On the other hand, firearms that are not regulated by the NFA, but that are regulated by the Gun Control Act of 1968 ("GCA") and other federal laws, are formally known as "Title I weapons." To distinguish them from NFA firearms, Title I firearms are commonly referred to a “non-NFA firearms” or “regular firearms.”

How can I legally acquire NFA firearms?

Basically, there are two ways that an individual or a legal entity, such as a trust, corporation, limited liability company, or partnership, may legally acquire NFA firearms, if the individual or entity is not prohibited by federal, state, or local law from receiving or possessing firearms:

(1) by transfer after approval by the ATF of a registered NFA firearm from its lawful owner residing in the same state as the transferee (ATF Form 4); or

(2) by obtaining prior approval from the ATF to make NFA firearms (ATF Form 1).

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