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Old March 15, 2013, 11:42 PM   #1
RB_Kandy
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Are fully automatic weapons legal?

On the topic of assault rifles, someone is telling me that there are fully automatic assault rifles available to the general public (The AR-15 to be precise).

It is my understanding that the only assault rifles allowed to American civilians are semi-automatic only.

So could any of you experts weigh in on this?
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Old March 15, 2013, 11:51 PM   #2
Fishing_Cabin
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Yes, in many states full-auto or select fire firearms are legal. They are covered under NFA.

http://www.atf.gov/firearms/faq/nati...-firearms.html

Quote:
Originally Posted by atf.gov above
Q: The types of firearms that must be registered in the National Firearm Registration and Transfer Record are defined in the NFA and 27 CFR, Part 479. What are some examples?
Some examples of the types of firearms that must be registered are:
Machine guns;
The frames or receivers of machine guns;
Any combination of parts designed and intended for use in converting weapons into machine guns;
Any part designed and intended solely and exclusively for converting a weapon into a machine gun;
Any combination of parts from which a machine gun can be assembled if the parts are in the possession or under the control of a person;
Silencers and any part designed and intended for fabricating a silencer;
Short-barreled rifles;
Short-barreled shotguns;
Destructive devices; and,
“Any other weapon.”
The issue is, is that the registry for full-auto and select fire firearms is closed now. Also there is a lengthy process (imo, others will disagree) in which to purchase them. That's the short version. If you would like to know more please feel free to ask a more specific question.
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Old March 15, 2013, 11:59 PM   #3
weblance
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They are legal. They are expensive. They are not easy to obtain.
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Old March 16, 2013, 12:00 AM   #4
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Also they must be made prior to 1986
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Old March 16, 2013, 12:05 AM   #5
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Full auto guns manufactured before 1986 are available to the public, if your state allows it, you have lots of money and can get the approvals and tax stamp from BATFE.

Full auto guns made after 1986 are limited to samples for federally licensed dealers.

The bottom line is you cannot go down to Walmart and buy a full auto AR-15.
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Old March 16, 2013, 12:13 AM   #6
Sport45
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Welcome to The Firing Line!

Quote:
Originally Posted by RB Kandy
someone is telling me that there are fully automatic assault rifles available to the general public (The AR-15 to be precise).
While it may be possible to convert the AR-15 to full auto with registered (and expensive) parts, the run of the mill AR-15 that many of us own are semi-automatic rifles. It is a civilian look-alike for the military M16.

Please don't get the idea that the AR-15s you see (or used to see) on the walls of your local sporting goods store are full auto machine guns. They are definately not.
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Old March 16, 2013, 12:17 AM   #7
JohnKSa
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Quote:
On the topic of assault rifles, someone is telling me that there are fully automatic assault rifles available to the general public (The AR-15 to be precise).
This is two questions, I'll answer them separately, the second one first.

1. The AR-15 is NOT a fully automatic assault rifle. It is a SEMI-automatic rifle. That is, it fires a single round each time the trigger is pulled. It is available to anyone who lives in a state that allows ownership of such rifles and who is otherwise eligible under federal laws to own a firearm.

2. Fully automatic assault rifles (machine guns) are available to those who live in states that allow ownership of fully automatic firearms, who pass the background check, who pay the applicable tax, and who are able to fulfill the other federal and state requirements to own a fully automatic firearm.

The entire process generally takes months to complete and the available supply of fully automatic firearms that can be owned by citizens has been fixed since 1986. No new machineguns can be entered into the registry, so people who want to own a machinegun must find someone who is selling an existing transferrable machinegun. Transferrable machineguns are typically very expensive. A transferrable M16 (the fully automatic version of the AR-15), for example, could easily cost $20,000 or more.
Quote:
It is my understanding that the only assault rifles allowed to American civilians are semi-automatic only.

So could any of you experts weigh in on this?
Those who live in states that prohibit full-auto ownership, who aren't willing to jump through all the hoops to legally posess a fully automatic firearm and/or who aren't willing to pay the premium for a transferrable machinegun are limited to semi-automatic firearms.
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Old March 16, 2013, 12:32 AM   #8
chris in va
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Ok, now I have a similar question.

The Knob Creek shoot is coming up. There are plenty of newer full auto guns being fired. Does this mean they are FFL's that can make their own?
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Old March 16, 2013, 01:20 AM   #9
weblance
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My understanding is that there are no NEW fully automatic weapons, EXCEPT those made for Law Enforcement, and Military. A FFL cant make a fully automatic weapon.
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Old March 16, 2013, 02:43 AM   #10
Sport45
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There are no new FA arms available to the public in general. With the correct license a FFL can make a FA for demonstration to or at the request of the groups that can purchase new FA arms. That is typically military or law enforcement groups.

At least that's how I understand it to work. Even a FFL can't build a full auto for his own enjoyment.
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Old March 16, 2013, 04:50 AM   #11
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There is special licensing required. Not just any FFL can legally make a fully automatic firearm.

The ones that are licensed to do so can only retain the firearm as long as they are licensed, and they can only remain licensed as long as they are in the type of business that demonstrates the need for the licensing.

AND, any full auto made after 1986 will NEVER be legally transferable. Only law enforcement, military and properly licensed FFLs can own them, and only as long as their business/occupation justifies that ownership.

Here's a recent thread on the topic.

http://thefiringline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=518032
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Old March 16, 2013, 06:49 AM   #12
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The OP's question seems to have been answered, but I had a related question:

The background check required for buying an NFA item is the same as the check for any other handgun or rifle, correct? It's just the NICS check that's performed when you fill out the Form 4473 to actually pick up the item and take it home?

The ATF application and tax stamp, along with the several-month processing time, is just government paperwork and red tape, and doesn't include a background check, correct?
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Old March 16, 2013, 07:55 AM   #13
dlb435
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One of the ways around the full auto ban is to optain a class three FFL license. Then, as a class three dealer, you may obtain a full auto weapon as a dealer sample to sell to military or police units.
This is not cheap. You need a shop (your home does not qualify), insurance, an annual fee for your class three license. The BATF can also pull your license if you fail to show any sales.
Some class three dealers rent their new dealer samples to the general public. This is the easist way to get your hands on a leagal full auto weapon and give it a try.
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Old March 16, 2013, 08:57 AM   #14
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I bought a MAC-10 .45 sub-machine gun years ago. Fill out the paperwork, get pictures, prints, CLEO sign off and $400 for the tax stamps, (one each for gun and suppressor). Took about 3 months to get the paperwork back from ATF. Picked up the gun...had fun.

It was a straightforward and simple process.

Only problem was that I needed an ammo factory's worth of ammunition to keep the 1200 RPM beast happy.
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Old March 16, 2013, 11:15 AM   #15
Cascade1911
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Quote:
Fill out the paperwork, get pictures, prints, CLEO sign off and $400 for the tax stamps, (one each for gun and suppressor). Took about 3 months to get the paperwork back from ATF.

It was a straightforward and simple process.
I see you have a slightly different definition of "straightforward and simple".
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Old March 16, 2013, 02:09 PM   #16
BornToLooze
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Also from what I've heard, on some guns if you screw up a trigger job it can make the gun full auto. But if you want a full auto AR-15 (no such thing) either get a small fortune and buy an M-16 or just buy one of those bump fire stocks.
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Old March 16, 2013, 06:09 PM   #17
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The ATF man once told us that if you intentionally "screw up a trigger job" you could wind up in more trouble than if you were in possession of a stolen original.
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Old March 16, 2013, 06:30 PM   #18
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Quote:
The ATF man once told us that if you intentionally "screw up a trigger job" you could wind up in more trouble than if you were in possession of a stolen original.
Any links showing where someone was prosecuted and sentenced for "screwing up a trigger job"?

It's pretty easy to find lots of links where people have gone to jail for felony theft.

I was once told that the moon was made of green cheese.
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Old March 16, 2013, 06:39 PM   #19
alan
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RB_Kandy wrote:
Are fully automatic weapons legal?
On the topic of assault rifles, someone is telling me that there are fully automatic assault rifles available to the general public (The AR-15 to be precise).

It is my understanding that the only assault rifles allowed to American civilians are semi-automatic only.

So could any of you experts weigh in on this?
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I make no claim to being an ""expert"", however as others have noted, it depends on which state you are talking about. Some jurisdictions, as a matter of state law preclude ownership of machine guns and selective fire weapons to the private citizen, others do not. The "someone"" you reference is, to stay within the bounds of polite conversation, ill-informed. Your understanding is also incorrect, as with the following.

1. The AR-15 Rifle and it's several clones, made and sold under other brand names, is a semiautomatic rifle. The AR-15 is not a selective fire weapon.

2. The defining characteristic of the genre assault rifle is selective fire capability. Any firearm with such capability is regulated under The National Firearms Act of 1934, 80 year old federal law.

3. A semiautomatic rifle, by definition, is not an assault rifle.

4. Semiautomatic rifles have been around for more than 100 years, Winchester and Remington both offered them prior to World War 1, think 1908.

5. My advice, take it as you like, is to be very careful with terminology, for as has been noted elsewhere, he that poses the question controls the answer. Also, words once spoken are the masters, they are no longer the slaves.The anti gunners tend to play word games, making things up as they go along, aided and abetted by media. For instance, what is this "assault weapon" that we hear so much about. A claw hammer, a common carpenter's tool is handy to drive nails with. If I attack you with one, it is an "assault weapon", otherwise it's simply a hammer.

6. Interestingly, S 150, Dianne Feinstein's latest legislative flight of fancy does not address selective fire weapons, it addresses semiautomatic rifles that bear a cosmetic resemblance to assault rifles, which are military small arms, generally not available to the private citizen. See National Firearms Act of 1934, above mentioned, or check with any conveniently located Class 3 Dealer.

Last edited by alan; March 16, 2013 at 08:08 PM.
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Old March 16, 2013, 07:56 PM   #20
ScottRiqui
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Quote:
Any links showing where someone was prosecuted and sentenced for "screwing up a trigger job"?

It's pretty easy to find lots of links where people have gone to jail for felony theft.

I was once told that the moon was made of green cheese.
The one that comes to mind is U.S. v Olofson.

The government's lead attorney in the case stated the law does not exempt a malfunction. He claims that it states "any weapon that shoots more than once without manual reloading, per function of the trigger is a machinegun".

Olofson was convicted and sentenced to thirty months.
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Old March 16, 2013, 08:02 PM   #21
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In my limited experience, semi-auto weapons that suffer sear or disconnector failures get immediately red-tagged and locked up, pending immediate transfer to the gunsmith for repair.
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Old March 16, 2013, 08:31 PM   #22
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Quote:
The one that comes to mind is U.S. v Olofson.
Bad example.

Olofson screwed up all right, but not with a trigger job.

The gun in question had a three-position selector as well as other parts and modifications that suggested it was intended to "malfunction" in exactly the manner that it did.

In addition, Olofson was or had been in the business of selling information on how to convert that particular firearm to full automatic.

Olofson also posted extensively on arfcom indicating that he intended to argue the case based on his claim that the feds had no jurisdiction in the case. He stated that defense had worked for him in federal court before. He had no intention, apparently, of trying to prove that the gun was simply exhibiting an unintentional malfunction.

It's possible he was railroaded over a screwed up trigger job, but, if so, it would be hard to find an innocent man who worked harder to make himself look guilty than Olofson did.
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Old March 16, 2013, 08:41 PM   #23
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I never found anything definitive saying that the "malfunction" was intentional, but to the government's case, it didn't matter - one trigger pull resulting in multiple discharges equals "machine gun", even if it's due to a malfunction.

To lend credence to the "unintentional" nature of the multiple discharges, supposedly the ATF tech couldn't duplicate the issue until he switched to some soft-primered ammunition.
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Old March 16, 2013, 09:35 PM   #24
tirod
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Quote:
Some class three dealers rent their new dealer samples to the general public. This is the easist way to get your hands on a leagal full auto weapon and give it a try.
Maybe - or, just enlist. Choose combat arms, and you get to eat, sleep, bathe, and otherwise live with your new automatic spouse.

Another method would be to train, become an LEO, and have those responsible in your jurisdiction simply get them from Uncle Sam and issue it to you.

I shot my issue M16, M16A1, and M16A2 for 22 years, had a lot of fun with it. I also got to shoot the M60, M249, M2, and Mk17. Likely there will be a bit less live fire for familiarization floating around in the future, when I was in a Reserve MP unit, we fired twice annually, and active duty four times a year.

Go MP, when you get out, finish up with Police Academy, and you get full auto for life, it seems. Fair? Too bad, it's the law.

I really don't care about the inequity - I don't have to feed, safeguard, and protect it now. It gets old.
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Old March 16, 2013, 09:40 PM   #25
kilimanjaro
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Just read about a case where a disconnector failed, the ATF is prosecuting that as illegal possession of a full auto.
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