Many people think that machine guns and suppressors are illegal. This is straight up false. They’re absolutely legal, but the process to own them is a bit more complex. It comes with more paperwork, more money, and a stamp (NFA tax stamp) – but not the kind of stamp you use to mail a letter!
Thanks to Uncle Sam and the National Firearms Act of 1934, you have to pay a special tax, via what is commonly known as a tax stamp (NFA Tax Stamps), if you want to own a suppressor/silencer, machine gun, short barrel rifle (SBR), short barrel shotgun (SBS), Any Other Weapons (AOW), or a destructive device (DD).
The vast majority of the items on the list above require a $200 NFA tax stamp. The exception is for an AOW, which only costs $5. While it would be really nice if this were a “one and done” kind of thing, it isn’t. This is a wretched gift that keeps on giving, long after you want it to stop. Do you want to own two suppressors? Or how about a suppressor and a machine gun? That’ll be two stamps, or $400 – one for each item.
When the NFA was passed into law, you could buy a machine gun for around $200. By making the NFA tax stamp also cost $200, the government essentially doubled the cost to buy a machine gun. Their hope was that this 100% increase in price would keep most people from being able to afford one – and they were right.
Thankfully, the government has not raised the price of the stamp since it was introduced in 1934. If it had followed the rate of inflation, the $200 tax stamp would now cost more than $4,000!
Getting a Stamp
Once you have filled out all of the required paperwork to purchase an NFA item, you’ll then submit it to the ATF along with your $200 for the stamp. Most NFA items will transfer to you on what is known as a Form 4. It is on this form that an ATF agent will, upon eventual approval of your paperwork, affix a small green stamp as a sort of mark of approval.
That’s right: in this digital day and age, your NFA approval hinges on an actual, honest-to-goodness, lick-and-stick stamp! (OK, so they’ve probably got an adhesive backing, but you get the point.)
Each stamp is specific to the item for which it was purchased. The ATF agent will write on the stamp in ink the serial number of the item, their initials, and the date of approval. This prevents dishonest people from trying to pass off one stamp for multiple items.
It’s also how the government ensures their lucrative $200 pay-to-play revenue stream for years to come. In 2016, the ATF raked in $62,596,000 from individuals paying for tax stamps!
Keep It Safe
It’s highly recommended that you keep your original form and tax stamp in a secure place, such as a safe or fireproof box. You should also make physical copies and keep them with your NFA items. In the era of smartphones, it’s also not a bad idea to take a picture of them and keep them in your cloud files just in case.
How to Bypass the Stamps – Legally!
Believe it or not, there’s actually a 100% legal way you can bypass paying for tax stamps without risking going to prison or having your dog shot. If you’re actually in the business of legally making and selling NFA items, then you won’t have to pay $200 for each and every one of them in your possession.
This involves first getting a regular FFL, which allows for guns, and then you have to successfully apply for your SOT, which allows for the NFA items. That means knowing a lot of different regulations, laws and procedures. After all, even an 02 SOT can’t just start cranking out machine guns in their garage. The ATF likes to know what you are doing.
Now, you can work all this out on your own after extensive study of appropriate laws and rules. Or, you can take the fast, easy and simple way out.
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