“Anybody can buy any weapon … without much, if any, regulation,” including “machine guns.”

Image via Foundation for Economic Education

-President Barack Obama, 30th May 2019

Mr. President, that is news to me.

Allow me to be the first to forward your comments to the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms & Explosives and they should be able to release my pending tax stamp and refund me my $200.00 because those regulations do not exist. I’m certain that conversation will go splendidly. I really do want my X95.

I can also go off and find a full auto trigger system for several of my rifles and handguns, right? One of those Wish switches should do the trick for a Glock. There are no legal repercussions because there are no regulations. I can buy whatever I want!

Right? ATF? Why am I going away in handcuffs!?

Reality

While our former President may feel like our system is fast and loose the reality is a vastly different matter. As a current example, I’ve been chasing a rifle that I need delivered through FedEx for 3 days now because it must be delivered to a Federal Firearm Licensee… all because of regulation.

1. Anybody can buy a weapon.

Except…

  • Under 18 years old for any firearm
  • Under 21 years old for a handgun from a licensed dealer
  • Felon. Any felony, no tie to violence required. Alabama: residents commit unlawful bear exploitation if they purchase, possess, or train a bear for the purpose of bear wrestling. It’s a Class B felony, punishable by a fine, confiscation of the bear, and restitution to a humane society for animals. In Montana, derailing a train or stopping it with sheep also carries this prohibition.
  • Use Marijuana.. at all for any reason.
  • Under any Personal Protective Order
  • Dishonorably Discharged from the Armed Forces
  • Conviction for Domestic Violence, Misdemeanor

These are just the Federal restrictions. States may impose further restrictions such as possession of a license in order to purchase or a Firearm Owners Identification Card or FOID.

So no, not “anybody can buy” a weapon legally.

2. Any weapon

Nope.

Starting with only the two different age requirements between handguns and rifles, this is not accurate. Add to that a myriad of state restrictions and variations on things like magazines, “assault weapons”, and specific item/device or firearm type bans and “any weapon” vanishes quickly into a quagmire of legal problems.

The National Firearms Act alone with its Title I and Title II classifications on firearms and devices puts even nearly identical guns into vastly different legal boxes.

Buying a Title II Firearm, which I’m in the middle of. Here’s the “regulation free” process thus far to “buy any weapon”.

  • IWI X95 Short Barrel Rifle, factory model. (Characteristics are the same as just about every 5.56x45mm rifle or pistol)
  • Start – Early December 2018
  • IWI must submit the serial number # to the ATF as being manufactured into a Short Barreled Rifle. ATF Form 1
  • ATF must approve and send back that the serial number and characteristics are recorded in the NFA registry. ATF Form 1 approval.
  • IWI must ship the rifle to my NFA item approved dealer, a certification beyond a standard Federal Firearms License known as an Special Occupational Tax (SOT).
  • IWI applies to ship the firearm with the ATF going from themselves to the NFA approved dealer. ATF Form 3.
  • The ATF approves the transfer and the serial number is moved from IWI to my SOT holding FFL. ATF Form 3 approval.
  • FFL completes a minor business restructure, changes official name. Must get an entirely new FFL and SOT (cannot be applied for simultaneously to the best of my knowledge, FFL must be complete first to issue a number to tie the SOT into)
  • FFL must have the ATF transfer all his current NFA inventory back to himself under the new official business name, FFL license number, and SOT. Many ATF Form 3’s…
  • ATF approves all the items to still be in the possession of the FFL under the new license numbers. ATF Form 3 Approvals.
  • Keep in mind any typo on any one of these forms results in the process, at best, pausing to get the information entirely accurate. A variance as minor as typing 13″ or 13in into the length column of the barrel length descriptor when the ATF Form 1 only says 13 can result in the entire process halting and a new form being required.
  • Get two passport photos and two full FBI fingerprint cards done up (the ATF already has me on file. I own another NFA applicable rifle, also in the DoD and DoJ databases for employment. None of that matters)
  • Submit an ATF Form 4 costing a $200 tax and in triplicate to transfer the rifle serial number to me as owner. April 2019. Average approval time from this point is about 320 days, with the lowest at 67 days out of 2,949 records.

Likely 18 months of regulation free regulations right there for a rifle with the same basic capabilities as a “Firearm”, a Title I classification, that I built. The parts are just in slightly different spots.

“Firearm” wait time: When I finish it.

3. Machine Guns

Ha! Haha! Hahahaha!

The National Firearms Act makes buying a machine gun the same process I am currently going through with my X95. The Firearm Owners Protection Act signed May 19th, 1986 closed the sale of new production machine guns to the public. Anything made after May 19th, 1986 and not on the NFA registry as a transferable firearm cannot be sold. Period.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the surface of the United States of America’s “regulation free” firearms market. We’re basically Bakaara over there in Mogadishu.