In the wake of the horrific shooting in Las Vegas this morning, liberal opportunists are calling for a form of gun control that already exists — a ban on automatic weapons.
My 10 year old asked me how the shooter was able to get his machine gun. I told him that pretty much anyone in the US can. 'But why daddy'?
— Boris Kodjoe (@BorisKodjoe) October 2, 2017
How about we ban machine guns?
— Andy Cohen (@Andy) October 2, 2017
There is no rationale for automatic weapons being for sale. None. Republicans have let the country down on this-bought and sold by gun lobby https://t.co/QSS7nhkyrY
— Amy Siskind (@Amy_Siskind) October 2, 2017
Well here’s some great news for them: they’re already banned. As The Federalist documented,
Federal law highly regulates the manufacture, sale, and ownership of fully automatic weapons in the United States. The main federal law governing fully automatic weapons is called the National Firearms Act, or NFA. First enacted in 1934, this federal law regulates fully automatic weapons, suppressors, short-barreled rifles and shotguns, and destructive devices such as bombs or grenades. The NFA was subsequently modified in 1968 by the Gun Control Act and in 1986 by the Firearm Owners Protection Act.
Under the NFA, it is illegal for any private civilian to own any fully automatic weapons manufactured after May 19, 1986. Only registered Class 3 FFLs may make them, and then only for purchase by qualified state and federal agencies. There are no exceptions. According to the ATF’s official handbook on NFA laws and regulations, it’s not even legal to make new replacement parts for pre-1986 machine guns: “There is no exception allowing for the lawful production, transfer, possession, or use of a post-May 18, 1986 machinegun receiver as a replacement receiver on a weapon produced prior to May 19, 1986.”
So what about pre-1986 machine guns? Are civilians permitted to own those? Yes, with a host of exceptions. The pre-1986 machine guns may be sold only by a Class 3 FFL and must be registered with the ATF. Easy peasy, right? Not really. The process of registering a NFA item with the ATF is costly, invasive, and time-consuming. Federal law requires extensive background checks of anyone wishing to own a NFA item such as a machine gun. If you wanted to purchase a machine gun today, it would take close to a year, and you would be required to submit fingerprints and a photo to accompany your background check. Each NFA item also requires its own tax stamp, which costs $200. Once the ATF decides that an individual is permitted by law to own a NFA item, it adds that individual’s name, address, and biographical information to a federal gun registry and matches it to the serial number of the licensed NFA item. This goes for every item listed in the NFA, not just machine guns. Individuals with NFA items are then required to notify the ATF when they move and any time they plan to travel outside their state of residence with the NFA item.
And that’s just the federal registration process. We haven’t even discussed the cost of purchasing a legal machine gun. If you can find a legal, ATF-stamped, pre-1986 machine gun for less than $10,000, then you’re a miracle worker. A legal NFA sear — the machined part of the trigger group that makes a firearm capable of fully automatic firing — can cost anywhere from $15,000 to $50,000.
Prior to the tragedy in Vegas today, since 1934, there have only been two documented homicides committed with legally- owned automatic weapons. If reducing gun violence is the Left’s goal, giving any more attention to automatic weapons is the last thing they should be going. That problem was solved nearly a century ago.
Now, is that proof that gun control works?
Of course not, as the circumstances of 1934 were much different than those today. It’s not like there was a massive supply of fully automatic weapons in private hands that needed to be reduced — as opposed to the confiscation of 300+ million guns that would need to occur today for a total gun ban to occur.