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Old November 28, 2009, 08:59 PM   #1
cptsplashdown
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Kicked off range for not having NFA paperwork...

I was at the Markham Park shooting range today in South Florida. I was shooting an MP-5SD (RDTS conversion) and after shooting it for some time was approached by a range officer who asked if I had my NFA paperwork. I said I did not. He told me I was violating federal law and that any police officer who asked me for my paperwork would arrest me on the spot. He told me I had to pack up and leave the range, which I did. I did not think this was correct, but I have had trouble finding any appropriate legal references to this issue. I know there are a lot of opinions out there, but I was hoping someone could give me a specific reference in the law that I could refer to in the case that this happens again. On the other hand, if the range officer was correct, I suppose I would like to know that as well. Anyone?
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Old November 28, 2009, 09:17 PM   #2
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You didn't have to jump through hoops to get a suppressed MP5?
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Old November 28, 2009, 09:21 PM   #3
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No more hoops than usual.
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Old November 28, 2009, 09:23 PM   #4
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Not sure if it makes a difference, but this is a semi, not full auto...
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Old November 28, 2009, 09:31 PM   #5
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Sorry I can't help with your states laws. You might post in the Laws section here. In WA you have to have a trust set up to purchase a supressor.
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Old November 28, 2009, 09:38 PM   #6
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Sorry, maybe I'm not being clear on my question. This is a legally owned and registered (SBR and Suppressor) firearm, and I have all applicable documentation. My question is whether or not I am legally required to have this documentation with me when I am at the range with the weapon. In other words, was the range master correct in telling me that I was violating federal law by not having the BATF paperwork with me at the range, or was he just on a power trip disseminating mis-information?
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Old November 28, 2009, 09:42 PM   #7
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I'm sure theres gotta be someone floating around here that knows. If he was power tripping I hope you go back and give him an earfull. Good luck.
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Old November 28, 2009, 09:48 PM   #8
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You are only required by federal law to show it to an ATF agent. That said, I'd still bring a copy whenever I took it somewhere, lest I end up in jail by some cop unfamiliar with the laws...
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Old November 28, 2009, 09:54 PM   #9
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A local cop couldn't arrest you for it, an ATF agent would have to. I'm not really sure what can happen if an ATF agent comes knocking and you can't produce the necessary documents (that you do possess). There's probably some measure of "Innocent until proven guilty."

I have heard of people making miniature certified copies of their tax stamps and keeping them with their NFA items to prevent anybody on their high horse from going on a power trip and making the range trip a PITA (like the one you experienced).
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Old November 28, 2009, 10:02 PM   #10
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I understand that it would be easier on me to carry at least a copy of these papers with me in order to keep the wolves at bay, but my question is really more about what the law actually requires, not what would be easiest for me. I would like to know if this is a legal requirement or not (having the paperwork with the weapon, vice simply keeping it safe at home.) I have heard that the tax stamp on the form makes it a tax document and as such these documents are subject to privacy laws which would preclude any law enforcement officer from demanding said document without a warrant or probable cause... In any case I was hoping for a legally definitive answer from someone who really knows the NFA inside and out...
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Old November 28, 2009, 10:43 PM   #11
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well, since it got closed on the other side.....


This is the closest I could find with a quick search....

The link is here...

http://www.atf.gov/firearms/nfa/nfa_handbook/index.htm

CHAPTER 12. RECORDKEEPING
Section 12.1 Maintaining proof of registration. The NFA requires that a person possessing a firearm
registered in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record (NFRTR) retain proof of
registration which must be made available to the Attorney General, specifically an ATF agent or
investigator, upon request.184 Proof of registration would be on a Form 1 registering a firearm to its
maker, Form 2 registering a firearm to an importer or manufacturer, or a Form 3, 4, or 5 showing
registration of a firearm to a transferee.


Most of this all deals with federal law and the ATF. You may or may not be required by your states laws to provide the same info, but I dont know, you'll have to look at that end with your state.

The range is probably more concerned with their liability than anything else. From experience, many havent any idea as to what is or isnt legal, but it is their range, so you have to choose what you want to do. Many if not most ranges these days, wont even allow them on the range, which can be frustrating, especially when the reasons they give are total BS and incorrect. Insurance also has a lot to do with it. Oh well, such is life for a tax stamp holder in the world of know it alls.
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Old November 28, 2009, 10:43 PM   #12
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In Texas I've been told you have to have the original NFA stamp/paperwork w/ the NFA item while transporting.
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Old November 28, 2009, 10:44 PM   #13
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Just to add to this discussion, cptsplashdown inadvertently opened three discussions in separate forums. I'd like to bring them here, but the time tags on the posts would mingle those discussions here and nonsense might result, So, instead, I give you the links to those other discussions, which have been closed, but remain in view:

Law & Civil Rights

General Discussion
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Old November 28, 2009, 11:11 PM   #14
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Quote:
I understand that it would be easier on me to carry at least a copy of these papers with me in order to keep the wolves at bay, but my question is really more about what the law actually requires, not what would be easiest for me. I would like to know if this is a legal requirement or not (having the paperwork with the weapon, vice simply keeping it safe at home.) I have heard that the tax stamp on the form makes it a tax document and as such these documents are subject to privacy laws which would preclude any law enforcement officer from demanding said document without a warrant or probable cause... In any case I was hoping for a legally definitive answer from someone who really knows the NFA inside and out...
Do you want to be technically in the right or do you want to be shooting?
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Old November 28, 2009, 11:28 PM   #15
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Frankly, I would rather be at a range where the people respect the law and my second and fourth amendment rights. I can always find a place to shoot, and I won't tolerate certain behavior just to get in a session at the range. So I guess I would rather be right.
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Old November 28, 2009, 11:29 PM   #16
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A local cop CAN arrest you. It would be up to you to provide proof the item is legal.
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Old November 28, 2009, 11:30 PM   #17
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Roger that Bud, sorry for the multiple postings, my first time on the site and it was suggested by another member to try multiple forums to increase the potential of reaching a successful responder. Won't happen again.
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Old November 28, 2009, 11:33 PM   #18
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Bill, how can a local cop arrest me if I'm not breaking the law? Of course I understand that he could arrest me for spitting on the sidewalk, but really, are you saying that you believe it is in fact a violation of federal law to have a properly registered NFA firearm (SBR, Suppressor) at the range but not have the registration forms with you? That was my original question, and I appreciate AK for posting the link which I will be reading asap. Cheers man.
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Old November 28, 2009, 11:37 PM   #19
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Being a LEO who deals with these types of firearms on an infrequent basis, I would say that the burden of proof is on you to prove that the guns are legal, not the officer. NFA weapons are always registered with the ATF and maybe the police department where (and if) you had the head LEO sign off on it, but other jurisdictions won't have access to the info right away. Every short barrelled weapon or homemade silencer I have ever dealt with has been illegal, but the suspect will claim they didn't know or have the paperwork at home. I have seen people with registered NFA weapons "lend" them to their friends for extended periods of time, which we know you cannot do. I have even seen fake NFA paperwork for an unmarked auto sear. But the suspects usually have no idea how the NFA process works, where a legitimate person knows the process very well. Most states have laws outlawing NFA weapons without federal approval (ie tax stamps), so an officer does have the duty to fully investigate. Basically my point is that just saying you have the paperwork won't work in most cases. If you were an officer, would you like to be known as the guy who got duped into letting a "dangerous" silenced weapon walk when in fact it turned out to be illegal?

My suggestion to you would be to have a copy of your paperwork handy. In reality, an officer could arrest you for not having it, but could very easily just impound the weapon and hold it until the paperwork is presented. It took alot of effort to get the weapon, don't risk it by not having a simple piece of paper saying its OK.
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Old November 28, 2009, 11:40 PM   #20
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Have a color copy, front/back of your form 4. Keep it with the gun.

Technically only an ATF agent has the authority to hassle you over your NFA item but that won't stop cops and rangemasters.

Keep a copy with the gun.

Quote:
In WA you have to have a trust set up to purchase a supressor.
Not true. If a local CLEO won't sign for a suppressor you will need a trust. Unfortunately, while it is legal to own a suppressor in Washington, it is not legal to put it on a gun...
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Old November 28, 2009, 11:43 PM   #21
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Quote:
how can a local cop arrest me if I'm not breaking the law?
Well, he would slap handcuffs on you, say "you're under arrest, these things are illegal!" and haul you off. Then, days or months later, when somebody who knows the law (or knows enough to bother looking it up) looks at the case, they will say "you dolts arrested this guy for a legal gun!". Then the charges will go away and you will get your super awesome gun back.

You are right, they are wrong, but that won't always keep you out of trouble. Particularly if you have an attitude and try to preach/screech at dimwits who think your sweet sweet rifle is illegal/improper/needs a permission slip from the pope.

Find a range that is familiar with NFA items or go shoot in the swamp (or on the ocean, I think there's a bit of water down there).
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Old November 28, 2009, 11:45 PM   #22
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Accoster, I think your response brings me back to the crux of the question. If I am not committing any type of crime just by being at the range with my legally owned weapon, why would any LEO be investigating the situation at all. Would you investigate every car in the parking lot of the range just to be sure that one of them wasn't stolen? There is no probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed. Isn't there some sort of necessity for probable cause in a case such as this (exempting BATF agents who are afforded the right by law.) Yes, I understand that most LEOs don't know the law or deal with these weapons on a regular basis, but it sort of scares me that you would then put the "burden of proof" on the citizen, rather than on the LEO to go and actually know the law he is accusing you of breaking. Just food for thought, I have all the respect in the world for the boys in blue, but it reeks of Big Brother to me.
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Old November 28, 2009, 11:51 PM   #23
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And of course all who point out that police officers can arrest you even for a crime you didn't commit are correct, which is why I am hoping to find the specific legal citation. I don't imagine any LEO who was presented with a copy of the written law in lieu of a Form 4, upon seeing the error of his ways, would arrest you just out of spite. I also don't think that it needs to be a butting of heads, just a citizen explaining to a misinformed LEO or RSO that he or she is mistakenly applying their authority or misinterpreting the law.
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Old November 29, 2009, 12:04 AM   #24
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I was informed to make a copy of my original Form 4 and carry it with me whenever I was in possession of my NFA item. The copy is in a ziplock bag and stays in my range bag so it's always there if by chance I get asked about it at any of the ranges I go to.

You may know that the SBR, Full Auto, or Suppressed weapon is totally legal. Your shooting buddy may know the same thing. But the range officer or local Policeman may not, or may think your supposed to have the Form 4 with you at all times.

I'm not sure what the actual "law" is regarding having the From 4 with you is, but to be honest, it's way too easy to make a copy and carry it with me than to cite legal statues to some concerned officer.
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Old November 29, 2009, 12:05 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cptsplashdown
...There is no probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed....
Actually, I suspect that a judge would say that there is probable cause. Fully automatic firearms, short barrel rifles, suppressors, etc., are, in fact, illegal, UNLESS they have been properly registered under the NFA. Therefore it could easily be argued, that an LEO seeing you with an NFA firearm has reason to believe that you are in possession of contraband if you can't show that you have complied with the requirements of the NFA.

"Probable cause" is "sufficient reason based upon known facts to believe a crime has been committed or that certain property is connected with a crime...." Possession of an NFA weapon or device without having satisfied the NFA formalities is a crime. An LEO seeing an individual with an NFA weapon or device has no way of knowing if the necessary formalities have been satisfied (unless the person in possession can produce the appropriate paperwork) and therefore has reason to believe a crime has been committed. (And no, he doesn't have to take your word for it.)
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