Second Amendment History: The NFA

Second Amendment History: The NFA

Gun Rights

While the National Firearms Act of 1934 is not the first legislation that we can consider “gun control,” it is a landmark and does affect gun owners to this day. As with much legislation the commonly used moniker “NFA” is the short title. The long title reads thus: An Act to provide for the taxation of manufacturers, importers, and dealers in certain firearms and machine guns, to tax the sale or other disposal of such weapons, and to restrict importation and regulate interstate transportation thereof. Passed in response to the organized crime violence that marked the Prohibition Era—during which murder and homicide rates were much higher than they are today—the NFA classified silencers/suppressors, short barreled rifles and shotguns, and nebulously-defined “machine guns” as restricted weapons which were to be registered. As the law itself put it: The term “firearm” means a shotgun or rifle having a barrel of less than eighteen inches in length, or any other weapon, except a pistol or revolver, from which a shot is discharged by an explosive if such weapon is capable of being concealed on the person, or a machine gun, and includes a muffler or silencer for any firearm whether or not such firearm is included within the foregoing definition. Congress revisited the NFA in 1968, following a series of constitutional challenges which reached the Supreme Court . In response to the Court’s ruling, the NFA was amended to remove any mechanism or responsibility for registering a restricted weapon already in the […]

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