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What is an NFA Weapon?

In 1934 the Federal Government enacted a new law – the National Firearms Act (NFA) – aimed at cracking down on the well-dressed gangsters carrying Tommy Guns and running moonshine throughout the country (despite the fact that the law was finally passed after prohibition ended). NFA weapons have to be registered with the Federal Government and the person buying them has to pay a $200 fee for a transfer tax stamp (yes it is an actual stamp).

So, specifically, what guns or devices are considered NFA weapons?

Machine Guns: The one everyone usually thinks of is the machine gun. A machine gun is a fully-automatic gun capable of firing more than one round per trigger pull.

Short-barreled rifles (SBRs): Any rifle with a barrel less than 16 inches or an overall length less than 26 inches.

Short barreled shotguns (SBSs): Any shotgun with a barrel less than 18 inches or an overall length less than 26 inches

Suppressors (some people call them silencers): Any portable device designed to muffle or disguise the report of a gun.

Destructive Devices: This includes grenades, bombs, explosive missiles, poison gas weapons, etc. or any firearm with a bore over 0.50 inch except for shotguns or shotgun shells which have a “legitimate sporting use.”

Any Other Weapons (AOWs). This a subset of Destructive Devices used as a “catch-all” category to include any number of firearms that the ATF thinks they need to regulate under the NFA. The good news is that the tax stamp for AOWs only costs $5. Some examples of AOWs include:

  •          Smooth-bore pistols;
  •          Pen guns and cane guns;
  •          A firearm with combinations smooth bore and rifle barrels between 12 and 18 inches;
  •          Disguised firearms;
  •          Firearms that can be fired from within a wallet holster or a briefcase;
  •          A short-barreled shotgun which came from the factory with a pistol grip and no buttstock;
  •         Handguns with a forward vertical grip.