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NFA firearms

Know Your Laws: A Guide to the NFA from Frontier Justice’s Firearms Experts

NFA Firearms

The National Firearms Act, or NFA, is an incredibly important document that affects all firearms owners and enthusiasts. If you’re not familiar with the NFA or don’t abide by its rules, you run the risk of committing a felony and potentially losing your right to own a firearm, among other civil rights limited for felons. 

Fortunately, the firearms experts at Frontier Justice have the knowledge and understanding of the NFA and NFA items you need to keep yourself on the right side of the law. Not only that, we actively help simplify the NFA process with our Silencer Shop Kiosk in all three of our store locations. 

To learn more about the NFA, NFA Firearms, and other NFA nuances, keep reading this blog. You can also always get in touch with us, or stop by our Lee’s Summit, Kansas City, or Omaha stores and talk with our firearms experts in person. 

What is the NFA?

The National Firearms Act was enacted in 1934 to limit access to silencers, short-barreled rifles, shotguns, machine guns, and “any other weapons” (AOW).

The NFA requires the registration of all NFA firearms and other items with the Secretary of the Treasury. For example: to purchase and register a manufactured silencer, ATF Form 4 must be submitted, along with two sets of fingerprints, two photographs, and $200.

Paperwork and all of the companion materials are typically mailed in. On average, there is a 250-370 day wait for NFA approval. 

If this act seems like a lot of hoops to jump through, that’s because it is. According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), the NFA was structured to discourage public use of NFA firearms. 

As the legislative history of the law discloses, its underlying purpose was to curtail, if not prohibit, transactions in NFA firearms. Congress found these firearms to pose a significant crime problem because of their frequent use in crime, particularly the gangland crimes of that era such as the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. The $200 making and transfer taxes on most NFA firearms were considered quite severe and adequate to carry out Congress’ purpose to discourage or eliminate transactions in these firearms. The $200 tax has not changed since 1934.”

While that $200 tax isn’t nearly as steep as it was back in 1934, it’s still an additional hurdle on top of the expense of your NFA firearm or other NFA items. 

What are NFA firearms?

The world of firearms has expanded greatly since the NFA was originally passed almost 90 years ago, and the list of NFA firearms and items has grown along with it. 

Below are firearms and items listed in the NFA, as well as their descriptions:

    • Short-barreled shotguns:A shotgun is a firearm designed to be fired from the shoulder and designed to use the energy of the explosive in a fixed shotgun shell to fire through a smooth bore either a number of projectiles, or a single projectile for each pull of the trigger. A shotgun subject to the NFA has a barrel or barrels of less than 18 inches in length.
      • Weapon made from a shotgun: “A weapon made from a shotgun is a shotgun-type weapon that has an overall length of less than 26 inches, or a barrel or barrels of less than 18 inches in length.
  • Short-barreled rifles: A rifle is a firearm designed to be fired from the shoulder and designed to use the energy of an explosive in a fixed cartridge to fire only a single projectile through a rifled barrel for each single pull of the trigger. A rifle subject to the NFA has a barrel or barrels of less than 16 inches in length.
    • Weapon made from a rifle: “A weapon made from a rifle is a rifle type weapon that has an overall length of less than 26 inches or a barrel or barrels of less than 16 inches in length.
  • Any other weapon: “Firearms meeting the definition of “any other weapon” are weapons or devices capable of being concealed on the person from which a shot can be discharged through the energy of an explosive. Also included in the “any other weapon” definition are pistols and revolvers having smooth bore barrels designed or redesigned to fire a fixed shotgun shell, and specifically described weapons with combination shotgun and rifle barrels 12 inches or more but less than 18 inches in length from which only a single discharge can be made from either barrel without manual reloading.
  • Machineguns: “Firearms within the definition of machine gun include weapons that shoot, are designed to shoot, or can be readily restored to shoot, automatically more than one shot without manual reloading by a single function of the trigger.” 
  • Silencers: “A firearm silencer and a firearm muffler are defined as any device for silencing, muffling, or diminishing the report of a portable firearm.18-inch Firearm silencers are generally composed of an outer tube, internal baffles, a front end cap, and a rear end cap. The definition of a silencer also includes any combination of parts, designed or redesigned, and intended for use in assembling or fabricating a firearm silencer or firearm muffler.” 
  • Destructive device: “The destructive device definition contains different categories that address specific types of munitions.
    • Explosive devices: “The definition specifies that any explosive, incendiary or poison gas bomb, grenade, mine or similar device is a destructive device.” 
    • Large caliber weapons: “The definition states that any type of weapon by whatever name known which will, or which may be readily converted to, expel a projectile by the action of an explosive or other propellant, the barrel or barrels of which have a bore diameter of more than one-half inch in diameter is a destructive device. The majority of weapons covered by this portion of the destructive device definition are large caliber military weapons such as rocket launchers, mortars and cannons.

Gun trusts

After cutting through all of the red tape involved in getting an NFA firearm or item, you’re in the clear to own and use that item just like any other firearm or accessory. The problem is, if you wish to lend to a trusted friend or loved one, or you need someone to store the NFA firearm for a time, that firearm or item in the other person’s hands becomes a felony. 

If you’re set up with a gun trust, however, any of your trustees or beneficiaries are legally allowed to operate and possess any of your NFA firearms or items. 

Gun trusts fall into two categories:

  • Revocable gun trusts: These trusts are typically the preferred trust for firearms owners, because you can modify the trust at any time. This way, you can add or exclude more co-trustees or beneficiaries at any time. 
  • Irrevocable gun trusts: This is very similar to a revocable trust, with specific language written related to the NFA, but the main difference is when this trust is signed or executed it cannot be changed.

Gun trusts also protect your NFA firearms or items from government seizure after your death. Without a gun trust, the government will seize all NFA items when the owner of said items passes away. But with a gun trust, the legal beneficiaries only need to submit an ATF Form 5 to inherit the items. NFA wait times grant the trustee a grace period to transfer the registered firearms and items to a beneficiary’s estate as well, and it’s the executor’s responsibility to maintain custody and control of the firearms registered in the beneficiary’s name.

How Frontier Justice simplifies the NFA process

One of our main principles at Frontier Justice is promoting firearm ownership for every American citizen, and NFA firearms and items are included in that promotion. The NFA application process has remained constant for nearly 90 years, so we’ve brought that process into the 21st century with our Silencer Shop Kiosk in each of our stores. 

The Silencer Shop Kiosk is an interactive and simple solution to the struggles faced by those interested in buying a silencer. The kiosk saves all the time that was usually spent chasing down photos, and fingerprints. Not only that, but when combined with the Silencer Shop mobile app, we are able to completely eliminate the need for paper forms.

Now, you can walk into any Frontier Justice location, walk up to our kiosk, and immediately complete the entire process (except the NFA wait!). The hardest part for you is simply deciding which silencer is right for you!

Just follow these simple steps to purchase your silencer at our Silencer Shop Kiosk:

  1. Purchase a silencer
  2. Purchase a tax stamp
  3. Submit fingerprints
  4. Fill out information
  5. Submit photo
  6. Choose how to file
  7. Electronically sign
  8. Wait until approval
  9. Pick up your silencer

Visit Frontier Justice for all of your NFA firearm needs

Still curious about the NFA or interested in purchasing an NFA item? Come to Frontier Justice and speak directly with one of our firearms experts! We are dedicated to teaching everyone in our community about their Second Amendment rights. Part of that dedication is educating people about the NFA and opening up access to NFA firearms and items for more American citizens.

Learn more about what makes Frontier Justice different by reaching out to us, signing up for our membership club, or scheduling a class. You can also always simply stop by to check  out our store, boutique, and range for yourself!

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