All NFA items must be registered with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF). Private owners wishing to purchase an NFA item must obtain permission from the ATF, obtain a signature from the county or city or town chief of police (not necessarily permission), pass an extensive background check to include submitting a photograph and finger prints, fully register the firearm, receive ATF written permission before moving the firearm across state lines, and pay a tax. The request to transfer ownership of an NFA item is made on an ATF Form 4.
The only thing more astounding than the results of this legislation is the fact that pro-gun folks keep saying gun control laws don't work. The most common reason they give is that criminals won't obey them. Well, what happens is this. When every machine gun is registered and every owner is licensed after having passed such a rigorous background check, very few of these guns end up in the wrong hands. It does not depend on criminal compliance.
From The GunCite:
Since 1934, Prof. Kleck has determined only 2 homicides were committed with legally owned machine guns, and only slightly more than that with illegal ones.
In 1995 there were over 240,000 machine guns registered with the BATF. About half are owned by civilians and the other half by police departments and other governmental agencies (Gary Kleck, Targeting Guns: Firearms and Their Control, Walter de Gruyter, Inc., New York, 1997.)
Again in Targeting Guns, Kleck writes, four police officers were killed in the line of duty by machine guns from 1983 to 1992. (713 law enforcement officers were killed during that period, 651 with guns.)
In 1980, when Miami's homicide rate was at an all-time high, less than 1% of all homicides involved machine guns. (Miami was supposedly a "machine gun Mecca" and drug trafficking capital of the U.S.) Although there are no national figures to compare to, machine gun deaths were probably lower elsewhere.
- Of 2,200 guns recovered by Minneapolis police (1987-1989), not one was fully automatic.
- A total of 420 weapons, including 375 guns, were seized during drug warrant executions and arrests by the Metropolitan Area Narcotics Squad (Will and Grundie counties in the Chicago metropolitan area, 1980-1989). None of the guns was a machine gun.
- 16 of 2,359 (0.7%) of the guns seized in the Detroit area (1991-1992) in connection with "the investigation of narcotics trafficking operations" were machine guns.
Dennis A. Henigan says this on page 60 of Lethal Logic.
Of course there may be sound policy objections to imposing on handguns the same tight controls we impose on manchine guns. But the "criminals will always get guns" argument is not one of them. Based on the machine gun regulatory experience there should at least be a presumption that a strong, well-administered licensing and registration system can be as effective for other firearms as it has been for machine guns.
What's your opinion? What would those "sound policy objections" be? I honestly can't think of a one.
Please leave a comment.