Can You Own a Fully Automatic Weapon Legally?

Can You Own a Fully Automatic Weapon Legally?

Can You Own a Fully Automatic Weapon Legally?

There’s a common assumption in society today that you cannot own a fully automatic weapon. That is 100% false. You absolutely can own a fully automatic weapon and it isn’t a difficult process to complete, but it is a lengthy and expensive process nonetheless.

A misunderstanding by most people of how the laws are structured is what leads to most people thinking that fully automatic weapons are illegal when they are, in fact, perfectly legal so long as you follow all the laws.

If you’ve got the time and the money and you want to own a fully automatic weapon, we’ll go over all of the qualifications, restrictions, and processes you need to complete in order to buy and possess one of these weapons.

What Qualifies as an Automatic Weapon

An automatic weapon, which is often called a machine gun, is defined by federal law as a firearm that fires more than one bullet with each pull of the trigger.

For example, all non-automatic weapons only fire one bullet with each pull of the trigger. You have to release your finger from the trigger and let it reset before you can fire another bullet. With an automatic weapon, you simply pull the trigger once and hold it down and the weapon will fire every bullet until it is empty without the user having to release the trigger and pull it again.

These weapons were initially regulated under the National Firearms Act (NFA) of 1934, then under the Gun Control Act (GCA) of 1968, and again under the Firearm Owners Protection Act (FOPA) of 1986.

Ownership Restrictions for Automatic Weapons

Here are the requirements for owning a machine gun, or an automatic weapon, in the United States:

  • Must not be classified as a “prohibited person.”
  • Be at least 21 years of age to purchase a machine gun from the current owner.
  • Be a legal resident of the United States.
  • Be legally eligible to purchase a firearm.
  • Pass a BATFE background check with a typical process time of 8 to 10 months.
  • Pay a one-time $200 transfer tax. (You’ll need a stamp for each machine gun.)

Prohibited Persons

The first requirement we mentioned about machine gun ownership above was that you must not be a “prohibited person.”

A “prohibited person” includes anyone who:

  • is a felon.
  • has been convicted of any crime punishable by more than a year in prison (whether or not they were ever sentenced to or served a day in prison).
  • is under indictment for any crime punishable by more than a year in prison.
  • is a fugitive.
  • is an unlawful user of any controlled substance.
  • has been adjudicated as a mental defective.
  • has been committed to a mental institution.
  • is an illegal alien.
  • has a dishonorable discharge from the military.
  • has renounced their U.S. citizenship.
  • is the subject of a restraining order restraining the person from harassing, stalking, or threatening an intimate partner or the child of an intimate partner, or who has been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence.

It’s also important to note that a prohibited person cannot even be in possession of a firearm, let alone own one, so if someone is a prohibited person, then that’s the end of the story and the attempt at legal machine gun ownership for them.

Firearm Owners Protection Act

The other big requirement for owning a machine gun is that it must have been made before May 19, 1986. It was the Hughes Amendment to the Firearms Owners Protection Act of 1986 which officially closed the NFA registry to new machine guns. After May 19, 1986, private citizens would no longer be allowed to register new machine guns, but transfers of existing registered guns are still allowed.

Because of this, machine guns are becoming more and more expensive as the supply is significantly less than the demand. Get ready for sticker shock if you start shopping around for a machine gun, as you should expect to spend a minimum of $6,000-$10,000 to buy one. Popular models, like M16s and Tommy Guns, are closer to $30,000 or more. Essentially, machine guns are quickly becoming investments rather than practical firearms for use.

How to Own an Automatic Weapon

As we mentioned before, the process of owning an automatic weapon isn’t difficult, but it is expensive and time-consuming. Here’s a general outline of that process.

Buy a Legal Machine Gun

First, you’ve got to find and then buy a legal machine gun. It’s important to note that the actual purchase of the gun is just the beginning, and even though you’ve completed the financial transaction with the dealer or person selling the gun, you cannot take possession of it until all of the other steps are completed and approved.

Apply with the Government

You have to get approval from the federal government to own a machine gun. This is done through the NFA division of the ATF.

ATF Form 4

Most all machine guns are transferred from one owner to another on an ATF Form 4. If you’ve ever bought a silencer, then you’ve completed this form. It’s not a complicated document to fill out and submit, but it does include the submission of a photo and fingerprints.


Buy an NFA Tax Stamp

The NFA of 1934 states that you must purchase an NFA tax stamp for each machine gun that you want to buy. Each stamp costs a flat $200.

Pass a Government Background Check

The government will then conduct a background check to ensure that you’re not a prohibited person and that you meet all of the other legal requirements for owning a machine gun.

Complete the Firearm Transfer

Once you’ve met all of the government’s requirements and they’ve determined that you can own a machine gun, the NFA will approve your application and send it back. Then – and only then – will you be able to complete the transfer of the machine gun from the previous owner or seller to yourself.

Congratulations! You’re now the 100% legal owner of a fully automatic weapon!

Automatic Weapons can be Owned in the US!

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: automatic weapons are 100% legal in the US, but you’ve got to meet strict requirements to own one and the guns aren’t cheap.

Still, if you want to own an automatic weapon, you are completely within your rights to do so. If that sounds like something you want to do, then start saving your pennies now. Eventually, you’ll have enough copper Lincolns to do the deal and apply to be one of the lucky few who can say that they own an automatic weapon!

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