National Firearms Act (NFA) & SUPPRESSORS

Show Notes

On today’s show with, we’re talking the National Firearms Act and suppressors. When suppressors were first created you could actually order them by mail or even create your own at home if you had the know-how. That sounds absolutely fantastic but, unfortunately, 1934 rolled around and in came sweeping regulations from the American government. While the publicly stated reason for the NFA was the mob, that doesn’t seem to be the case. Allen goes into the creation of the NFA with the case of the United States vs. Miller, which is where this all stemmed from. With the case being thrown out a few times, it slowly crept through the justice system. Listen in to this episode sponsored by to hear in depth exactly how the NFA came to be.

In this episode we talk more about suppressors and the government regulations behind them. One of those being the requirement for a Tax Stamp for EVERY suppressor that you purchase. Unfortunately, it is not a one-time fee. This amount has been the same since it was first initiated in 1934, which at that time was an astronomical amount of money. Attached to this is the wait time to get it back after it’s submitted, with many people having to wait 8-10 months, which drives some consumers away from trying to own a suppressor. This along with having to get your fingerprints done and sending in forms for every single suppressor you’d like to own, it really makes consumers jump through a ton of unnecessary hoops.

Closing out, we cover moving a suppressor to someone else if something were to happen to you. The real only true way to do this without having to go through the process again is to set up that person in a trust. We also cover the two major changes that happened after the NFA; the Gun Control Acts of 1968 and 1986. These completely changed the way firearms were purchased, with consumers no longer being able to purchase firearms through the mail. It also created a limited supply of machine guns, artificially inflating the cost. Make sure to listen to this episode to get a deep dive into the National Firearms Act and all the changes over the years. If you’d love to get your hands on firing a suppressor without having to purchase one yourself join us coming up soon at CANCON!

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Show Transcript

[00:00:00] Hi everyone. Welcome to the no low ballers podcast. I'm Logan Medish of high caliber history. Your host joined around the table with folks from go wild and gum broker. And we are talking all things NFA and suppressors today, which means we are talking all things inefficient and un American need funds allocated.

Yes, especially when it comes to the other NFA, the National Firearms Act of 1934. This is my high blood pressure episode because this particular topic, especially the NFA just drives me nuts. I think it drives everybody nuts, except for the folks that are in West Virginia working for the NFA. Yeah.

The only gun owners who shouldn't be completely irate about the NFA are those who just don't know what the NFA actually says and does. Exactly. So if you're one of those people, by the end of this episode, you will be [00:01:00] pissed

off. And if that's the to back it all up, you suppressors come out with Hiram Percy Maxim in the early 1900s suppressors were exactly what they should be today. Mail order items, things that you can buy off the shelf in a store, things you can make them at home if you had the ability to do that.

There were no regulations on them whatsoever. Just as there were no regulations on machine guns and short barreled rifles and short barreled shotguns and all that stuff. But unfortunately, all of that changes in 1934. So to set the stage for this, we are... In the middle of the worst economic crisis in American history, we are thick in the Great Depression in 1934, and the government comes along and kicks us when we're down and adds more restrictions to our machine guns and our suppressors.

Just, you [00:02:00] talk about the Dust Bowl being bad, man, the NFA is worse. They want, and they wanted to have, they wanted to have handguns on the list as well, originally. Yes, which, can you imagine having to, buy a tax stamp and wait, nine months to a year to buy a handgun? And their reason for spinning up the NFA was mostly the mob, right?

The publicly stated reason. But keep in mind, when Prohibition ended... The gangster era ended along with it. There are conspiracy theorists who point out that the Treasury Department had a whole lot of agents employed when Prohibition ended, suddenly with nothing else to do. There have been, many a lawyer have argued that the NFA is a revenue generating tax, which by definition is an illegal tax.

Yeah, you can look at a thousand different reasons why it came to be, but What irritates me most about it is that it came down to one moonshiner who skipped his court date is pretty much the reason we have the NFA. Which is a very interesting touch on that because I think that's something, yeah, something that I think a lot of people are not aware of.

So if you really want to [00:03:00] get into it, you want to look up the United States versus Miller. George Miller, I believe. Yeah, I think so. George Miller was a moonshiner. And I think Louisiana the treasurer agents went out to raid his still and found out that it had already been busted up. Hadn't been operating.

It was obviously not a crime, but when they were searching his truck, they found a shotgun with a barrel of less than 18 16 inches or no, sorry, 18 on shotgun 18 inches, which is now a new newly passed law. It's now a short barreled shotgun in illegal. Arrested, went to court, went before the judge. The United States, and the arguments they made are just mind boggling today.

Made the case that it was a constitutional law because the Second Amendment only protects military style weapons, of which a sawed off shotgun was not a military style weapon. The judge was a World War I veteran and or a, yeah, World War I veteran, and certainly remembers the trench shotguns.

Went, no, a shotgun is very much a... Combat shotgun threw the case out, took it to the next level, appealed the state or the government, appealed it again, went before the judge, made the same argument that the Second Amendment only [00:04:00] protects things like we're in the 1920s, so protects things like 1903 Springfields and, whatever the other munitions are that the military has.

Again, that's the argument that just melts my brain. Again, judge sided with it. Shotgun's a military weapon. Throws it out. Now we get to the Supreme Court. And you have to understand the Supreme Court's not like a regular court where you just walk in with a printed out document and call it good. You have to have, your case printed out and perfect bound in a very expensive book format.

Up to this point, this is a, it's a moonshiner. He's not a rich guy. Once he got out of court the first time, Disappeared. It's I'm off, I'm out of here. The attorney really only carried the case on because he knew the constitutional ramifications for it. But he ain't getting paid.

And now we're to the point that he's got a close up shop. Go to D. C. for a week because just because you're scheduled for Tuesday on the docket doesn't mean you're going to get heard Tuesday on the docket. So you're going to be there for at least a week. You got to pay to have all these printed. You got to have all these copies.

And he's you know what? It ain't worth the price to me. This is such an obvious case. I don't even need to be there. [00:05:00] Thanks. Appreciate that. Goes to the Supreme Court. The government goes up there and again makes their case that the Second Amendment only protects military style weapons.

And you look at the Supreme Court, no veterans, no military service, no experience. And they went the government says it must be true and nobody's here to argue it. So therefore, we find the National Firearms Act to be constitutional. Because the moonshiner skipped out on his legal bill and wouldn't do it.

But just think about that argument that the government's position was that the only thing protected by the Second Amendment was military weapons. So your deer rifle, not protected. A 240 Bravo belt fed? Game on! It's mind boggling to think about. And also, now... Every standard military weapon civilians are not allowed to have so it's almost the opposite of That's just if the government these days, that's a weapon of war.

It's a military rifle so it's a complete opposite shift and there's obviously A segment of our community that screams for a case to come up to, to retry Miller. We've seen Roe v. Wade revisited in past years, several other [00:06:00] standing cases have been revisited.

The problem is, I think in 2023, 24, 25, whatever, going into the court and trying to get machine guns legalized is probably going to be a hard political sell. Suppressors, on the other hand, should be the easiest thing since sliced bread. And that's where I think Bruin is such a huge help to us. That Supreme court decision that came out, was that earlier this year or was it last year?

It was last year, I think. Last year, it's gotta be precedent for it. And then, okay. Yeah. The NFA is 90 some years old at this point, but it's certainly a lot younger than our country, and there were no restrictions like that historically. And so that could pave the way for.

All sorts of throwing things out. It's already starting. But yeah, you would think it would be very easy to do that for suppressors. Yeah, that one, and I think the I forget the exact case name, but basically the Firearms Regulatory Accountability Commission, FRAC, who's brought the the pistol stabilizing brace lawsuits forward.

But if that pans out the way it looks like, then SBRs [00:07:00] might be challenged as well. Which again, if you think about short barrel rifle shotguns, it's such an arbitrary thing. Oh yeah. That at 18. 1 inches, this is a perfectly safe shotgun, but Oh, 17 inches, 17. 9 inches. It's a weapon of terror.

So you're saying SBRs being challenged, meaning that right now they're an NFA item. And you're saying that you think there's a chance they might not be there. It's many steps from here, but the pistol stabilizing brace is certainly bringing into question the entire SBS SBR regulation not just the constitutionality of it, but.

Does it even make sense? Does it work? Is it effective? Is it just an antiquated, stupid law that needs to go away? Depending on how that court case goes, that could be the first step toward that becoming a reality. Again it's political. You're taking a firearm and deregulating it, which is a, monumental task in this day and age, But the courts are not 100%, but the courts are starting to align with what we'd want them to, [00:08:00] basically ruling the way we want them to.

And Bruin's been a big foundational piece of setting that into play. Yeah, and one of the things we've talked about we talked about briefly in our previous episode as well, and, there's, it's all about taxes. It's all about money. And so to buy a suppressor comes with a 200 tax stamp.

And that's, unfortunately, it's 200 for every suppressor you buy. It's not a one and done. And interestingly enough, even though the government loves to raise the rates on things and raise the percentages on different things. One thing that has not changed since it was introduced in 1934 is the cost of a tax stamp.

And today, I'm not going to say 200 is chump change, certainly not 200 bucks is a good bit of money that I would love to spend on something else. So it's not an insignificant sum in 2023, but in 1934. 200 is an astronomical amount of money. And they chose [00:09:00] 200 because it was very close to the price of a Thompson submachine gun.

And so you are putting a 100 percent tax on that object. Technically 200 because you're probably going to have a tax because it's full auto and a tax as a... SBR. Nevermind. I'm thinking that backwards. I'm sorry. It's not a two stand. Yeah, no, not a two stand. Yeah, no. Coffee, Alan. Coffee. More coffee.

Any coffee. Any coffee. Yeah, but so yeah, that is an astronomical sum. You want to put something out of reach. Basically, you're making something de facto illegal just by someone not being able to afford it. It's the same thing today, like with you look Looking at full auto machine guns.

Are they legal to own? Absolutely. Are they insanely expensive? Definitely. If you want to find one, should you go to gunbroker. com and get one? Absolutely. But it, yeah, it all comes down to money and that's one of the big issues and then of course the wait time. [00:10:00] Nine months to a year. I got really lucky three years ago.

I got mine back in less than six. It would be interesting. Historically, I don't know what the wait time was, like back in the thirties and forties, the volume was nothing. Largely for probably the first 20 or 30 years after the NFA, I would say the majority of suppressors and machine guns were probably purchased by actual trusts and companies for.

Security forces, union busting, whatever you might want to say. I don't think there was a ton of civilian purchasing. It really wasn't until the economy got to the point where 200 became less of a burden, right? As the, frankly, the money's become more worthless as 200 is, easier to accept in.

That's really where the boom kicked in. Then 10 years ago, maybe when did the big boom happen in our industry is probably not even 10 years ago. It suddenly went from being a niche item that. Nobody really had a blackout, right? Oh, it probably drove a big part of that. Yeah, that makes sense.

And now you've got so many companies doing it. You've got tons of options out there. As we were talking earlier, if you walk into a shop and you find [00:11:00] a rifle that doesn't have a factory threaded barrel, you're I don't know if I want to buy this one. But it's just, there shouldn't, if you still want to keep an NFA registry, I'm opposed, but get away, get rid of the wait time.

These should be over the counter devices. If you look at people who shoot frequently, the, it's a terrible game we joked about, you go to NRA or whatever, play Count the Hearing Aids. And you get double points if they, if it's on somebody under 50, because it's just, it is what it is.

You hunt, you damage your hearing. It's just part of what we do. That was the joke. It was the NRA salute. Why? Yeah. So suppressors take that out of the equation. The number one reason law enforcement officers have to retire medically are back injuries from just all the gear they carry.

Number two, those hearing loss from discharging an unsuppressed firearm. It's, there's no legitimate reason to keep suppressors as regulated as they are. The reason they used in the twenties when they were writing the NFA was a, was for poachers. I hesitate saying this out loud because, we do have some game wardens in the vicinity, but I don't really know of a game warden who probably thinks that's really accurate, because again [00:12:00] they're quieter, they're not silent.

We also have these lovely little things called bows and arrows, which are really quiet. They look, they need an excuse. At the end of the day, it was an attempt to... deter or at least disincentivize people from buying firearms. They, again, they tried it with handguns and that one, the court found unconstitutional because it was essentially banning a handgun.

Whereas you weren't banning shotguns, just restricting certain ones. You weren't banning rifles, just restricting certain ones. And even though thanks to the NFA, this is technically now a firearm. At that time, you weren't banning a firearm because it's only a suppressor. So it's. The NFA is infuriating because it is such a jumble of just complete contradictions where, again, at one point it only covers military firearms, at another point, military firearms are bad at some points.

It is a firearm at some times, it's not a, it makes no sense, it's a jumble, it's a poorly written piece of legislation, it's a bad regulatory prods project. And yeah, [00:13:00] you want to talk about your soapbox issue. I already joked I'm gonna be banging my shoe on the table here in a minute But it's just stupid to keep suppressors on the NFA there's that in a nutshell.

That's my case. It's stupid From my perspective you're talking about Taking back money that the government has now gotten used to making what is that dollar amount look like? Stupid yeah, I mean there's 800 bucks sitting on the table right here just from me You know, to me, that's the biggest turtle.

Yeah. Oh, absolutely. Trying to take that back from them. I don't have the numbers in front of me as far as what suppressor sales were last year overall. NSSFL, publishes that as part of their overall data. It's still not, it's not dramatic. Really? It's really not. To us, it's gonna be a big number.

It's, certainly in the millions. But to the Department of the Treasury, they're probably gonna make more taxing the guy who just won the Powerball in California than they probably will make off NFA taxes this year. Just a guess. I could be totally wrong on that, but that's my [00:14:00] gut take.

Flip side to that though is that even though it may be a very small amount of money, the government doesn't want to give up any amount of money. No arguments there. They came after me for 500 on my taxes this year that, that, I figured it out, that funded the government for 1 16th of a second. But they wanted their 500.

So the biggest thing is it's an easily controllable choke point for the government. If you remember, Oh, I think it was toward the end of the Obama administration, maybe the beginning of the Trump administration, there was a big move through Congress to deregulate suppressors. The problem is the can companies got a little cocky about it and torpedoed themselves a little bit, but It had good traction.

It was basically to move them off of a registry and treat them like regular firearms. So you'd still need a 4473. It's still need the background check, depending what state you live in. You might have a five day waiting period, but there was no 200 tax. There was no year long wait. There was no fingerprints, all this other junk that goes along with it.

Then administration changed and we want to get tough [00:15:00] on guns. We want to show how hard we're fighting against gun violence. So we're going to turn the faucet off on the NFA. For the previous administration had added additional examiners. They'd brought in temporary workers to help get that wait time down from a year.

To your point, we were down in the three month range at some points, which was staggeringly fast. And then suddenly all the temp workers went away. All the overtime was no longer approved. Other projects came into place and we were back up at one point to almost a 14 or 15 month wait on these things. So it's a real easy control valve for the government to regulate.

Really the firearms industry have a political win. We're keeping more machine guns off the street because that's a problem. You're keeping metal tubes off a street, and the paperwork in and of itself really is not that much more involved than what a 4473 is. To buy a firearm. You're still running a background check, you're still doing all that basic information yet for some reason, because we threw in fingerprint cards [00:16:00] in a photo.

Now it's taking nine months to do it. You're also adding cost. Because they're all E fingerprints these days. If you go through a place like a silencer shop or somewhere that does the E kiosk, it's really easy. UPS stores will do E fingerprints, which the nice thing there is you pay one time and it's permanent.

They keep them on record. But you're still, okay. I would say probably an additional 50 to 100 for getting your prints done, getting your mug shots taken. The infuriating thing is you have to do it every time. A friend of mine did four cans at one time. So you would think, okay, if you bought four guns, you could put them on one 4473.

It's four separate, four separate forms, four separate mug shots, four separate sets of fingerprints, four separate checks. Yeah. It's ridiculous. Cause you know, your fingerprints change each time, right? So if there is an organization, a security. organization private military type stuff, and they are buying 30, they're literally 30 checks.

And if you go to sell these, if you own one and you sell them, you still have to whoever's buying it from you also has to go through [00:17:00] that same process. So not only does it get. taxed initially, it gets taxed every time down the line. Yes. That's a great point. That's a great point. It's very silencer privately.

You pretty much have to go through an SOT. And beyond just selling it though, if you've done it, like Dan, you were talking about you bought yours on a form for as a private citizen, not through a trust, which certainly has benefits, but I, my first can, I bought that way as well. And I've. Jokingly told my wife that should I die go throw in a lake.

Of course, we wouldn't do that. That would be illegal That's just a joke, but our lawyers said that was a joke You know if she was gonna take possession of it after my death, it has to be transferred to her and it's gonna be taxed That's the benefit of a trust. She's not as a beneficiary on my trust So she'll take possession without having to do the tax stamp But yeah, even so if you wanted to leave it to your son or a nephew or whatever It's a transfer, it's, it sits in limbo in some dealer shop for however long and it's $200.

But you can put anyone on your trust. Doesn't have to just be family members, as long as they're legal loan a firearm, [00:18:00] right? Yeah. You can buy a gun, you can buy a suppressor, you can own all that. So the NFA really, it had this action in the thirties for suppressors, machine gun, that sort of stuff.

And the NFA is part of the ATF. Yeah, the NFA is just an act. It's the National Firearms Act. So it's yeah, it's the law that the ATF enforces. So it's not its own department within the ATF. Okay. The technical branch, I believe, is the one who does. What's the note? I'm sorry. It's the examiner's.

What's the one out of West Virginia that handles all this stuff? I don't know. I just know that they're in Martinsburg, West Virginia. Yeah. There's a division that does all the processing of the paperwork and the inspections and whatnot, but the NFA itself is the act. It's like the Clean Waters Act or the Equal Rights Act or, whatever that might be.

It's just the legislation that put all these rules into effect. So there weren't really any changes. Major changes. I imagine like the the pistol stocks we were talking about. There weren't really any major changes until the 80s, and that was the last time there was a big, huge [00:19:00] revision, right?

68. Yeah. What happened in 68? 1934 is the National Firearms Act. 1968 is the Gun Control Act. And that does away with mail order firearms. Now, yeah, okay, you can still buy a gun through the mail, but... it goes to your dealer, right? Until 1968, you buy a gun out of the back of, American Rifleman magazine, have it sent right to your front door.

No questions asked. But that's one of the things that changes in 1968. And of course that's driven by the death of Robert Kennedy and then JFK and Martin Luther King. And because some of those guns were purchased through the mail and sent directly to people. So were there age limits before then?

As far as you can't be under 18 and have a pistol, or... Probably local, but as far as at a national level, no. Yeah. And even GCA 68 didn't impact the NFA, the one that had some impact would be the next big change, which was the Gun Control Act of 86. The Hughes Amendment. Yeah, the Hughes Amendment, which [00:20:00] essentially says no new machine guns can be manufactured for civilians.

So that's why you'll see things that are always talked about having either a post or a law letter. So if you want to, like in a, a Glock 18 was developed after 1986. So if you want to have one, the only person that can have them are either law enforcement or government, or if you are a dealer, an SOT dealer, and you have a letter that says, I have one of these as a sample, as I try to sell them to but as far as civilian ownership, that's almost impossible.

So that's what that basically created a limited pool. And as we remember from Economics 101, Supply and Demand, the supply is now limited. They're not adding to that pool ever. Things are going to break and eventually die a mechanical death. So that pool is getting smaller. So the prices are being driven up and up.

What it has also done has completely stymied innovation and invention and advancement in the automatic firearm space, because the only people now really who have a dog in that fight are going to be the military armories or the direct contractors, like a SIG or an FN. So [00:21:00] you're no longer going to have a, john Garand or Colonel Thompson sitting at home developing his new his new whiz bang machine gun invention to try and sell because he can't. Yeah. Yeah. When you've got a limited market, it just, it screws everything up, so the Gun Control Act, the one in the 80s, that's a new act, but then the NFA has just amended to say, okay, now machine guns are a class three.

Machine guns were added into the NFA in 1934, really all the Hughes Amendment did was say that the pool of guns that are regulated by the NFA can never get any bigger. You can't add new products into it. So again, it didn't really modify the National Firearms Act at all. So basically what it did was, in, in 1985, you could buy a brand new HK MP5 as long as, you went through all the NFA stuff.

But. come 86 and 87 and stuff you can no longer buy a brand new made mp5 you would have to buy one that's made [00:22:00] before that specific i think it was may 31st 1986 so so it sets that dividing line that you can't go past can manufacturers still make Replacement parts, as long as they're not a serialized.

I believe, yeah, parts are parts, but once that serialized receiver goes bad though, I believe that's the end of it. Then you're out of luck. It's just a lot of the registered items on machine guns, it's the auto sear itself, it's not the gun. It's that little thing.

But to bring us back to the suppressor world we've all shot a lot suppressed. It's a ton of fun. But if you've not shot suppressed before for anyone who's listening to the show or watching the show, obviously there's that expense to get into it, but if you want to shoot them and shoot a lot of cans for a very minimal price, there's an event coming up here not long after this episode airs it's in Georgia and it's called.

CanCon. And CanCon. If you find yourself in Georgia in November, the 10th and 11th come on out to Richmond Hill and join us there. There's gonna be a ton [00:23:00] of suppressor manufacturers out there. You want to shoot them. Other people's ammo is the best kind of ammo to shoot. It's the most accurate for some reason.

No, but it's a great way to get in, get your hands on some guns. You're also gonna be able to shoot some stuff that, as we've talked about, the GCA 68s are excuse me, 86, if you want to get your hands on an MP5, I'm willing to bet there's going to be some MP5s out there and M60s and 240s and you name it, the full autos and the suppressors go hand in hand.

Yeah, come on out. It's a great time. The swag bag is usually pretty cool different levels of tickets you can buy. But hit up the website. You can find everything you need on canconevent. com or, we've got information about it on gunbroker. com as well. Yeah, there's really no more affordable way to go out and try a bunch of the different, suppressor stuff.

Even though the technology behind the suppressors haven't changed the cans themselves are different, and there's different, sometimes the baffles are manufactured a little different or this and that, and it's gonna affect on different guns and different ammo just how quiet it is.

So before you part with that 200 tax stamp, go try some of these cans out. and see for yourself [00:24:00] what you like and it's amazing the difference it makes there's for example there's a company that makes a can it was they were doing as part of a military contract for the hk416 that works really good on the hk416 put it on an fn or any other it's still pretty quiet but There's a noticeable difference.

So it's, the design of the baffles and the way the gas flows is designed specifically for that rifle. It's way above my pay grade on the engineering side to know how they do it. But yeah, if you want a chance to get your hands on a ton of different suppressed firearms, an event like this is the way to do it.

Now, be warned, once you shoot suppressed, you never want to go back, so I'm sure we'll also have plenty of suppressor manufacturers there that'll be happy to get the process started for you. That's exactly right. Yeah, and you said the best kind of ammo is someone else's ammo, and the best kind of suppressor is the one you don't have to clean.

Yeah, so go on out to CanCon in Georgia the 10th and 11th. And let us know in the comments what you guys thought of that event for those of you who [00:25:00] make it out there and check it out. So with that, gentlemen, I appreciate you joining me around the table and talking suppressor history and NFA history and all sorts of...

Government intrusion that doesn't belong in our lives. Hopefully this video becomes out of date and obsolete. I hope so. That would be awesome. This is the time, call, write your senator, your congress critter, whatever it's... Yeah. It's a bad law. Get involved in the government, join the American Suppressor Association, not sponsored, not a, I'm a member of that.

They're fighting for stuff. They've done great work. So anyway again, thanks guys for joining us around the table. Thank you to everyone watching and listening. If you're not subscribed to the show on your favorite platform, please do that. Leave us some comments, a review. We'd really appreciate that.

And we appreciate you tuning in each and every week and we will see you next week right here I'm the no low ballers podcast.[00:26:00]