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Federal Gun Control Laws

How Collectors are Affected

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Gun collectors have to be savvy when it comes to gun laws because there are so many to follow. There are federal laws, state laws, licenses to get, and loopholes to consider. As a collector, there are several federal acts, laws, and policies that will affect you on a regular basis.
  • National Firearms Act of 1934(NFA)
    The National Firearms Act regulates the transfer of a particular class of weapons known as Title II weapons. Title II weapons include machine guns, certain parts of machine guns, short-barreled rifles, short-barreled shotguns, silencers, and destructive devices such as grenades or mortars. Title II weapons also include a category called, "Any Other Weapon." This is a generic term used to describe a concealable weapon that can shoot, but doesn't quite fit into any other category. An example of an "any other weapon" would be a cane gun or pen gun.

    The transfer of an NFA gun requires an application to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, a fingerprint card, a photo of the applicant, and a tax of $5 for an "Any Other Weapon" or $200 for other Title II weapons.

  • Gun Control Act of 1968 (GCA)
    The Gun Control Act has the broadest reach of any federal gun control law as it pertains to the sale or transfer of any firearm and ammunition. This act established the Federal Firearms License (FFL) system which requires gun dealers to be licensed and prohibits interstate gun sales by anyone other than a licensed dealer. The GCA also made it unlawful for certain people to purchase firearms. These "prohibited persons" include:
        • Anyone currently under indictment for a crime punishable by more than a year in prison
        • Anyone who has been previously convicted of such a crime
        • Fugitives
        • Users of any controlled substance
        • Anyone who has been committed to a mental institution or deemed mentally defective
        • Illegal aliens
        • Anyone who has been dishonorably discharged from the military
        • Anyone who has renounced his or her U.S. citizenship
        • Anyone who currently has a restraining order against him or her from an intimate partner or child of said partner
        • Anyone who has been convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor

  • Firearm Owners Protection Act of 1986 (FOPA)
    The Firearm Owners Protection Act was enacted to make changes to the Gun Control Act of 1968. One of the most notable changes banned civilian ownership of machine guns that were manufactured and registered after May 19, 1986. The act also introduced the “Safe Passage” provision. This provision protects gun owners who are traveling through a state from being prosecuted for breaking that state’s gun laws—under certain conditions. The gun owner must not spend any extended time in the state and must have his or her firearms unloaded and stored in a separate compartment such as a trunk or a lockbox.

    For collectors, though, the most important change to the GCA was the one in which the definition of a gun dealer was revised. Before, a dealer was defined simply as someone “engaged in the business” of selling firearms. Under FOPA, the definition was expanded to specify that a dealer must be selling firearms for profit or livelihood. This allows unlicensed individuals to sell firearms from their private collection without performing a background check on the buyer. This change created what has become known as the “Gun Show Loophole.”

        • Gun Show Loophole
          Since individuals are allowed, under FOPA, to sell from their personal collection, some collectors have begun selling their firearms at gun shows. As unlicensed collectors, they are able to make sales without performing background checks. The GCA still requires that guns not be sold to a “prohibited person” but without a background check, it may be impossible to determine if a buyer is prohibited. For this reason, there is a great deal of controversy surrounding the Gun Show Loophole.

  • Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act
    The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act went into effect in 1994. It requires that Federally Licensed Dealers conduct background checks on any individual who purchases a weapon from them. The background check is to determine if the individual is a “prohibited person” (see above). The act does not require individuals to perform a background check before selling a firearm to another individual, provided the seller is not in the business of selling guns. In addition, federally licensed collectors of Curio and Relic (C&R) firearms do not have to undergo a background check when purchasing a C&R gun.

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