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Old December 28, 2012, 02:02 AM   #227
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Join Date: May 24, 2005
Location: North Carolina
Posts: 2,698
Originally Posted by Webleymkv
Ah, but that was always the point of the NFA. I suspect that even in the midst of the Great Depression and New Deal, the drafters of the NFA knew that they'd be on shaky Constitutional ground with an outright ban, so instead they chose to regulate so heavily as to create a de facto ban. As bad as $200 per gun sounds in today's dollars, it would have been a small fortune in 1934 dollars (the amount has not changed). Adjusted for inflation, $200 in 1934 would be roughly equivalent to $3,300 in 2011.
Legislator used to discuss the constitutionality of laws quite frequently.

From the National Firearms Act hearings before the Committee on Ways and Means of the House of Representatives, April 16, 1934:

page 13
Mr. McClintic (D-OK) I would like to ask just one question. I am very much interested in this subject. What in your opinion would be the constitutionality of a provision added to this bill which would require registration, on the part of those who now own the type or class of weapons that are included in this bill?
Attorney General Cummings We were afraid of that, sir.
Mr. McClintic (D-OK) Afraid it would conflict with State laws?
Attorney General Cummings I am afraid it would be unconstitutional.

page 19
Mr. Lewis (D-MD) I hope the courts will find no doubt on a subject like this, General; but I was curious to know how we escaped that provision in the Constitution (the Second Amendment).
Attorney General Cummings Oh, we did not attempt to escape it. We are dealing with another power, namely, the power of taxation, and of regulation under the inter-state commerce clause. You see, if we made a statute absolutely forbidding any human being to have a machine gun, you might say there is some constitutional question involved. But when you say "We will tax the machine gun" and when you say that "the absence of a license showing payment of the tax has been made indicates that a crime has been perpetrated", you are easily within the law.
And the legislators well fully aware that the NFA tax would be essentially confiscatory.

page 12
Mr. Cooper (D-TN) In that connection, would you be prepared to give us some information as to the average cost of one of these machine guns?
Attorney General Cummings The cost now is about $200.
Mr. Cooper (D-TN) That is, delivered to the purchaser?
Attorney General Cummings Yes, sir.
Mr. Cooper (D-TN) Then the proposed tax of $200 --
Attorney General Cummings Would be about a 100-percent tax.
Mr. Cooper (D-TN) About a 100-percent tax?
Attorney General Cummings Yes, sir.
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