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Old January 25, 2006, 12:31 PM   #1
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New Sticky's?

I was thinking that perhaps we need a couple of sticky's concerning:

1.The difference between the AWB sunset and the 1986 MG laws.
2. Basic rules of purchasing NFA weapons
3. Illegal conversions (or "How to share a cell with Bubba")

They are entertaining to read, but you guys spend a lot of typing time telling the Goobers the same thing over and over.

Ah, come to think of it, it probably wouldn't stop them.
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Old January 25, 2006, 01:26 PM   #2
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I've been slowly working on something like that - either to post here as a sticky (if the staff will allow it) or to keep for a stock cut & paste answer everytime the question comes up. Seems like at least once a week there's a "how do I make my gun full-auto?" question.
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Old February 15, 2006, 12:58 PM   #3
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I agree, I had many questions that have been answered on AR vs. M-16, legal vs. not, et cetera. I would like to add there there was a good post on Jan 14 I think which linked to a site with pics specificly detailing teh differences between full vs. semi AR's.

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Old February 16, 2006, 10:17 PM   #4
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As one of the goobers here...

I think that would be a good idea. Or at least a pointer to the FAQ on something in the FAQ page about this subject.

And no, it won't stop us but it might slow us down a little.
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Old February 17, 2006, 12:21 PM   #5
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Here's a rough outline of what I've got so far. Its not done and it definitely needs some editing and formatting, but it covers some of the major points. I'd appreciate any suggestions or comments you guys may have. If there's other areas or questions you'd like to see addressed, let me know.



1.) An unlicensed individual (not a dealer/manufacturer) can legally obtain the following NFA items in most states:

a.) Machineguns. Must be made and registered prior to May 19, 1986. These are commonly known as “transferables” meaning they can be transferred to individuals. You may also see some machineguns offered for sale called “pre-samples” or “post-samples”. Post-samples are only for sale to dealers &manufacturers who have a letter requesting a demonstration of the gun in question by a law enforcement agency or government entity. Pre-samples are only for sale and transfer to NFA dealers, but do not require a demonstration request. Because of the law in 1986, you cannot now make a new machinegun; you are limited to the guns made and registered prior to the cut-off date and grandfathered under the law. All other NFA weapons can still be legally made by an individual if you don’t want to purchase it, IF the proper paperwork is approved before making the weapon.

b.) Short Barreled Shotguns (SBS) and Short Barreled Rifles (SBR). These are rifles with a barrel less than 16” or an overall length of less than 26”, OR shotguns with a barrel length of less than 18” or an overall length of less than 28”.

c.) Sound Suppressors/Silencers. Almost any device that has a measurable reduction on sound levels is classified a suppressor.

d.) Any Other Weapons (AOW). This is a catch-all category for firearms which do not meet the statutory definition of a handgun or a rifle/shotgun. An example would be an AR15 type pistol (no buttstock) that also has a vertical forward grip. Since it has no stock it does not meet the statutory definition of a rifle, but because it also has a vertical forward grip for the offhand it does not meet the statutory definition of a pistol (designed to be fired with one hand). This category also includes such things as guns concealed as other objects like camera guns, cane guns, flashlight guns, etc.

e.) Destructive Devices (DD). This category includes explosive devices, grenade launchers, and other “non-sporting“ firearms with a bore of .50 or larger.

2. Making an NFA item. As outlined in 1(a) above, an individual can make any NFA item except a machinegun. The process is the same as if you were buying an NFA weapon from a dealer, except that instead of the form 4, you use a form 1. (see ‘Transfer Paperwork’ below)


1.) The CLEO Sign-off. You'll need to determine if your local "CLEO" (Chief Law Enforcement Officer) will approve your forms. The CLEO is the sheriff, District Attorney, or Chief of Police who has jurisdiction over your place of residence. You cannot use a CLEO from another jurisdiction, and the CLEO has to personally approve the form. They can designate a subordinate to approve the form but it must be noted on the form that the subordinate is authorized by the CLEO.

If your CLEO will not sign the form, there are alternative persons who can sign the form and approve it for you. These may be found on the form 1 or 4, or you can contact the NFA Branch at BAFTE for further help if no one will approve the form.

The best method is to simply call the CLEO and ask if they will approve your forms to purchase and possess a machinegun, silencer, short barreled rifle/shotgun, etc. It is helpful to understand that what they are to sign is only a certification stating that they have no reason to know your use or possession of the weapon in question will not be in violation of any local laws or ordinances. You may need to explain this if they are not familiar with the process or the forms. It is also imperative to be polite and friendly, and if you are asked to make an appointment to come in that you dress appropriately. Leave the torn jeans and the "Budweiser" T-shirt at home, and make sure you look like the respectable, upstanding, law-abiding citizen you are. Make a good impression and look like someone they wouldn't worry about owning a machinegun. The CLEO can decline to approve and sign the form for almost any reason they want, and it is in your best interest to get them to sign the form. They are under no duty to sign and approve the form. Don't give them a reason not to like you.

If they deny you, please remain polite and friendly. You can calmly explain that there are other legal avenues for you to obtain NFA weapon which do not require his knowledge or approval. Explain you are only seeking his approval as this method is most beneficial to both parties. By approving the forms, he will be able to see and know what you will have in his jurisdiction. Otherwise, you can go through a more expensive process to get the same NFA weapons, but will not require any notice to him or approval by him. In other words, if he forces your hand into pursuing your NFA weapons through other legal means he will get no knowledge of when or what NFA weapons you buy (BATFE will still have records however).

2.) Finding and buying the NFA item you want. As an individual (and not a licensed class 3 dealer or manufacturer) you can only have NFA items transferred to you by either a class 3 licensed dealer/manufacturer in your state, or another unlicensed individual in your state. Both types of transfers are made on a BATFE Form 4. You can find and buy NFA weapons from dealers and individuals in other states, but they will first need to be transferred to a class 3 dealer in your state. Remember, however, that any transfer to or from an unlicensed individual bears one transfer tax. Here's some examples:

a.) Individual in TX buying from an individual in AZ. The seller in AZ will transfer the gun to a dealer in TX (one transfer tax) and then the dealer in TX will transfer it to the individual buyer in TX (another transfer tax).
b.) Inuvidual in AZ selling to individual in AZ. The buyer and seller will complete one Form 4 and only pay one transfer tax.
c.) Buyer in TX from a dealer in TX. One transfer tax.
d.) Buyer in TX from dealer in AZ. The gun will transfer from the AZ dealer tax-free and then transfer from the TX dealer to the TX individual for one transfer tax.

3.)Transfer paperwork. Once your dealer has the item you want in their possession and on their books, you will fill out several forms. You will use these same forms and the same process if the item you want is being sold by an unlicensed individual who lives in the same state.

a.) BATFE Form 4. The form 4 is an application for a tax paid transfer and registration of an NFA firearm. A .pdf copy of the form 4 is available for download at see
You will complete TWO copies of the form 4 and have your CLEO sign the certification on the back of the form. Please note, each copy of this form requires a passport sized photo, so be sure to get two photos for the forms.

b.) One copy of the US Citizenship certification form. See

c.) Two FBI fingerprint cards with proper routing for the Firearms & Explosives Division. You will have to obtain these either from your dealer or from BATFE. Your local police, the sheriff, or the state police can fingerprint you.

d.) A check to The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives for the appropriate transfer tax. In all cases other than the transfer of an AOW the transfer tax is $200. For the transfer of an AOW it is only $5.

4.) Send the entire package of materials in to:

National Firearms Act Branch
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms
and Explosives, P.O. Box 73201
Chicago, Il 60673-7201

In about 90 days the dealer or the individual who sold the NFA item will receive ONE copy of the form 4 you sent in with a tax stamp affixed. This is the approval to finally transfer it to you. You cannot take possession of the item before you have this form. When you take you gun home, you also take the approved copy. Be sure to keep the original copy in a safe place and make copies for keeping with the gun, going to the range, etc. It is very important you do not lose or destroy the original copy.

Last edited by shaggy; February 17, 2006 at 04:47 PM.
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Old February 17, 2006, 04:21 PM   #6
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Shaggy, is there not a requirement for two passport photos? I had to have two taken when I SBR'd a Mini-14 in 1987.
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Old February 17, 2006, 04:42 PM   #7
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You need one passport photo per form 4 (or form 1) but since two copies of the form 4 or 1 are required, thats two photos total that you would need.

(Thanks, I'll edit above to make it more clear.)
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Old February 17, 2006, 04:48 PM   #8
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I missed the line about the photos until I went back and re-read it the third time.
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Old February 17, 2006, 05:58 PM   #9
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Regarding floated threads ("Stickys.")

I've been trying to avoid doing this for some time now, but it looks as if it is about time to do SOMETHING. Avoided it, because this is an area of the law where a minor error can have fairly major consequences.

I particularly don't want to put TFL in a position of giving specific legal counsel. It is one thing to suggest what the law appears to be, and to advise against an action which is clearly in violation of the law as the individual member understands it. It is quite another matter to give specific legal advice on how to proceed through what might be a legal morass - - more especially since floating a thread suggests it has "official TFL status."

shaggy, your draft looks like a pretty good starting place. Lets leave it up for a time, to get the input you request from the membership at large. You and I can communicate by PM or e-mail on the final polishing, and THEN I want to get with other staffers about the details. We have a couple of actual attorneys amongst the membership, and I'll see if we can get some pro bono input from one or more. If and when we gain a consensus and the approval of TFL Administration, I will float the announcement, with all due credit for your efforts.

Everyone else: Please be restrained in tossing out the "Well, what if - - -?" questions. This project is intended for GENERAL GUIDANCE of the membership. If you already HAVE SPECIFIC INFORMATION on a particular point, by all means, share it with us. If it is simply something you heard in a gunshop that the dealer's cousin's step-neighbor-in-law read on the back page of some gunzine, kindly withhold that input. This is NOT a project that will be completed in the next few days, so please give it due consideration.

Fair enough?

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