This readers would like to know why he needs to get ATF approval and a $200 tax stamp to purchase a 9 inch upper receiver for his AR15.
It’s a great question that gives me an opportunity to get on my soapbox with regards to the National Firearms Act.
Part of the many duties shouldered by the ATF is responsibility for the National Firearms Act or NFA. The NFA, was enacted in 1934 and is currently codified as amended in 26 U.S.C. ch. 53. It requires that an excise tax be paid on certain types of firearms.
Under the NFA, a rifle with a barrel length of less than 16 inches is considered to be a short-barreled rifle or SBR; therefore, it must be registered in the National Firearms Act registry and the excise tax be paid.
It is not illegal to own a short-barreled rifle, you simply need to go through the steps outlined by the ATF to obtain one. It’s a processes that requires you to submit an application to the ATF along with a $200 tax payment.
Regrettably, like a number of agencies today, the ATF is up to their ears in work and they too have been hit with budget cuts. The result is that it may take months before you see a determination from the ATF.
Additionally, you must secure local law enforcement approval prior to forwarding your application to the ATF. In some cases, the chief law enforcement officer, in your area, may deny approval without cause – either he or she is philosophically opposed to Title II firearms or their political affiliations. There are vehicles available making it possible for you to bypass local law enforcement approval. If you are in that situation, I strongly recommend that you use the services of an experienced NFA attorney.
Once the ATF receives a properly completed application along with the excise tax payment, they will process it and return a tax stamp. Until you receive your tax stamp you MAY NOT take possession of the SBR (in your case).
Enactment of the NFA was, in my view, a response to the crime wave that came about because of Prohibition. So, it was a way for the government to maintain a record of and restrict ownership of Title II firearms – like the SBR.
In my view, the NFA, as amended, is archaic and needs a forklift upgrade; case in point. I’ve been hunting with people using 24 and 26 inch rifle barrels, and I have literally seen them fall flat on their behinds because they got the rifle snagged on brush. It’s a miracle that more people are not accidentally shot for the exact same reason I described – talk about a Dick Cheney thing.
Yet another example. Several friends have asked what I consider to be the most effective home defense weapon. My response has always been a short shotgun loaded with bird shot. Why?
It is easy for you or your spouse to maneuver the weapon in tight quarters- like a hallway- and requires little skill to be effective in a self-defense scenario. Lastly, there is little chance of over penetration so you won’t end up blasting your neighbor. Under current NFA rules, a shotgun with a barrel length less than 18 inches is a Title II firearm and requires registration.
Makes absolutely no sense whatsoever!
I personally would like to see ATF focus on domestic and international terror more so than NFA and 922r compliance along with a host of other minutia that currently falls under their jurisdiction.
In closing if you are thinking of purchasing an SBR, you must use a Class III dealer. Your normal shop is not licensed to deal in Title II firearms. The Class III dealer will also help you with the ATF documents and will review the entire process with you.
I hope I’ve answered your question.