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When the Hughes Amendment to the National Firearms Act came out, all hell broke loose. May 19th 1986 would be the very last day that anyone could legally register a machine gun, and after that date no individual would be allowed to manufacture a new one.In response the manufacturers put the coals to their production lines, cranking out every last serialized part they could muster and trying to get them registered before the arbitrary cut-off date. According to sources within the ATF it looks like some of those legally registered machine guns may soon be re-classified from their current perfectly legal and transferable status to a “post sample” status where individuals may no longer posses or transfer them. Here’s the crux of the issue . . .

Normally a manufacturer has 48 hours to notify the ATF that they made a machine gun. Making something one day and sending the paperwork the next is A-OK for manufacturers and pretty common practice. The issue at hand is that there were a number of manufacturers — specifically Flemming, S&H, and Vollmer, who were cranking out H&K sears like there was no tomorrow (which there wasn’t) — who manufactured registered machine gun sears prior to the deadline on the 19th but failed to file the paperwork until the 20th.

Our sources are telling us that people in possession of such a sear will be getting a nasty letter and possibly a knock on the door to inform them that they are now illegally in possession of a “post sample” machine gun.

This change is going to piss off a ton of people. Not only will this wipe out the value of their property (pre-ban machine guns and sears typically sell for upwards of $20,000 each) but it will instantly turn law abiding people into criminals for no reason. The manufacturers were well within the law to manufacture them on the 19th and submit the paperwork on the 20th, but the ATF has decided to reclassify these otherwise legal objects after they have already been around for 29 years.

Now that they will be considered “post ban” samples it is unclear how this would be handled, if the owners would be allowed to try and obtain a federal firearms license and a “demo letter” from the local police to keep their property or if it would simply be confiscated.

The precedent for this was set last year when the ATF approved a new production machine gun for a trust and then immediately revoked their approval. That situation is now making its way through the legal system, but in the meantime it looks like the ATF sees this as their opportunity to remove as many machine guns from the United States as they possibly can without involving the legislature.

Complicating this process is the fact that the ATF has lost most of their records. The machine gun registry is incomplete — they lost a ton of records when they digitized the registry and destroyed the paper copies of the firearms registrations. This most likely includes a good portion of these transferable sears that they are planning on reclassifying as post samples.

Finding the current owners who are actually in the system should be easy, but older records for sears that haven’t been transferred in decades may be more difficult. So fair warning: if you are buying a transferable H&K sear, when you submit the Form 4 instead of approving the paperwork the ATF may come along and declare that it is now a post-sample and confiscate it.

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  1. I want this to go as far as possible. Maybe this will wake some people up about how unconstitutional the Hughes amendment is.

    I can’t imagine how pissed those Hk guys are gonna be.

    My question is why now? What has prompted the ATF to look I to something that should have been handled almost 30 years ago…

    • Because it can and probably some lawyer and some bureaucracy lover looked at how hosed the records were. At which they probably came down with an arbitrary rule or legal opinion that makes this the word. The best way to fight this is if you have all your paperwork and ducks in a row. If not well it maybe time to find a good lawyer and start to save for the upcoming legal battle.

    • Because Obama has nothing to lose now and doesn’t give a rat’s behind about burning the next election for Democrats, and because he wants a legacy that doesn’t stink as bad as Obamacare. Really, I think it’s being a lame duck President and wanting to stir things up while he can, just out of spite. He’s never impressed me as having particularly high standards.

      • That’s definitely part of it. Obama and Co. hate guns, hate freedom and could care less about the value of your property. Government grows at the expense of taxpayers.

        • “Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
          ~Sir John Dalberg-Acton, 8th Baronet; aka ‘Lord Acton’

      • Obama never struck you as having “particularly high standards”. He has NO standards. His whims change as the wind blows, and he no longer even cares that the American citizens know that he’s lying. He absolutely will openly ignore the Constitution and any other federal, state or municipal law that he doesn’t personally like. Until Barry Bozo leaves office, that commie bast**d will hurt as many Americans as he can, in any way that he can. If a DemoRat wins this next Presidential election, I will be forced to abandon the land that I love. I was born in America to two parents who were both lifelong American citizens and I have never set foot off of American soil, yet I will NOT stay in this country if Bozo and his gang of lawless Chicago thugs are allowed to openly ignore any and all laws, sworn oaths and anything else that they don’t personally like about this country. By God we are a nation of laws and these commie, Muslim-loving monsters are being allowed to ignore our Constitution, our laws, and the spirit and the letter of any laws that they decide they don’t like, as in being allowed to release thousands of felons from federal prisons, including murderers, rapists and members of drug cartels into unsuspecting American communities without any legal basis whatsoever, not to mention forcing law-abiding American gun dealers to sell firearms to people who they knew were going to take those guns across the border to Mexican drug cartels. Literally thousands have been killed with the guns that Bozo and Holder sent to them, yet they are allowed to walk free, after facilitating thousands of murders across international borders. Bozo and all of his gang are felons, plain and simple. They should be arrested and prosecuted as such, according to our laws and our Constitution.

        • Remember ‘The Four Boxes of Liberty’

          “The tools to preserve liberty are as follows: soap box, ballot box, jury box, ammo box – Use in that order.”

          The Soap Box—right of free speech
          The Ballot Box—right to a voice in your government
          The Jury Box—right to a trial by jury of your peers
          The Ammunition Box—right to threaten or use appropriate violence in defense of liberty and freedom against government tyranny

          You’re wanting to jump to a Fifth Box:

          The Moving Box—right of association, in particular territoriality via migration

          While it’s most certainly your Right, it’s one that, once used, cannot easily be ‘repacked’.

    • I hope you are asking that question as a rhetorical question. They’re doing it now because they’re running out of time, and they can’t be sure they’ll get another democrat elected president. Without that assurance, it is necessary to move as quickly as possible and take away all firearms they can take before a new administration appoints a more reasonable head of the ATF.

    • So, NFAMark… Let me guess. You want new machineguns to stay illegal so your transferable collection keeps it’s value. If so you are a traitor for defending the illegal banning of machineguns. Shows how quick someone will sell off their and other’s rights for money. Stick those NFA where the sun don’t shine. I hope your collection becomes worth what it was in 1986 again…

    • Why now? How about because as every year passes these government tyrants take their tyranny to all new low levels. They appear to be doing this two steps at a time in most cases so that they can ease up when the small outcry erupts, but having actually made further inroads into the erosion of our GOD GIVEN RIGHTS. The Constitution is very clear on the matter that the right of the people to keep and bear arms SHALL NOT be infringed! That phrase, “shall not” constitutes some of the strongest legal language there is for a clear reason. The TRUTH of the matter is that the government has NO place or actual right to INFRINGE upon the citizens of this country IN ANY WAY when it comes to our GOD GIVEN RIGHT to keep and bear arms. Each passing year these Gestapo government agents of tyranny push further and further in their never ending barrage of efforts to erode the common man’s rights. What’s worse, many of the people who purport to be advocates of the second amendment pussy foot around the issue or even worse act as if it is the LAW which it most certainly is not. I for one am disgusted that people are allowing the further erosion of our God given patriotic RIGHT to keep and bear arms in a manner which should not be infringed upon. I truly believe that the patriots of the past would never have allowed this nonsense to get as far as it has today and I wonder to myself what limit people today will allow in the erosion of their liberties. Will it take a wire fence and a prison cell to convince people that this government is not being run by the people and most certainly not for the people? People need to stand up and voice their opposition proactively before it’s too late and their are no rights left to defend. This is NOT a small matter and it is only getting worse. All the while these “law” agencies themselves are involved in unimaginable corruption on every level! Even the ATF with the fast and furious fiasco…and if they got caught doing that, I wonder how much we don’t know! It brings tears to my eyes and sorrow to my heart when I see good patriotic Americans and hard working people being given the proverbial shaft when it comes to their rights that GOD GRANTED THEM, NOT THE GOVERNMENT being refused them and thrown out the window and called law by a bunch of narcissistic, corrupt, egotistical, maniacal government entities who have just as many of the same type as their agents who will lie, steal, corrupt, and destroy every good thing and person they come upon. These people eschew liberty, detest private property, and violate the sanctity of God given freedom at EVERY IMAGINABLE TURN! Does this mean they are all bad? No, I don’t think so…however, I do believe that, sadly, the bad is fast far outweighing the good. When will the sons of Liberty stand up and say no more together? What will it take? I pray that people wake up and voice their love of freedom and liberty with all their hearts and make proactive efforts to ensure their voices are heard in a real way that impacts the youth of this land to take to heart what they barely have left. Reading this article is but one stone in the wall these corrupt agencies have sought to remove and if we continue to allow it there will be nothing left to stop the storm that will inevitable follow when liberty will have finally sung her last song and the people have no strength to make their voice heard and to motivate the powers that be to listen. History calls out to all of us to learn of the past so as not to repeat its mistakes. If we fail to do this we will be doomed to repeat them and in that failure will be our most certain destruction and the last gasp of what lady liberty has left. I appeal to every patriot, every American who loves freedom to think about these words I write and let them be written on your heart and seared into your mind that you will not forget how important these days we live in and what the stakes truly are. The same cost of failing to do all we can will most certainly be the same cost as doing nothing, and after that toll there will be nothing left to take. These laws like the NFA that taxes hard working men and women of America to exercise their rights are unconstitutional, un-American, and morally wrong. They are a testament to the will and intent behind the cold hearts who formed them and the tyrants who ever allowed them to be passed and thrown upon us. Please stand up. I’m just a man who was raised to love my country and my fellow man and to never forget what I have because of men and women who gave all they had even unto their own deaths to make sure I can have everything liberty and freedom guarantees.

  2. What? I thought Obama wasn’t coming for our guns and registration doesn’t lead to confiscation? I can’t believe I have been lied too! I am shocked!

    Maybe this will light a fire to get some legislators to revisit the Hughes amendment.

  3. Am I to understand these firearms are at the root of many a problem and must therefore be eliminated? Oh, no problems? I see. So why all the fuss?

    This is a poo rolls downhill from the POTUS to top at ATF.

    • There is no legislative oversight. As long as a proposed rule falls within the scope of an authorizing statute, the ATF, after notice and hearing, and subject to any appeals, may change any rule it has previously issued.

      • …ONLY after the proposed Rule Change is published in the Federal Register; with adequate time for public comments being made.

        Just remember the backlash after the BATF**ckups tried to ban M855 ‘Green Tip’ 5.56x45mm ammunition….

  4. Wow, guess someone got bored at the ATF. Or are they really so over worked that they are just now getting to this after 29 years?

    You asked a couple of days ago of Obama is coming for our guns? Here you have the answer to your question.

    • Probably just some ambitious figure trying to make a name for themselves and get their office bumped one more floor up, or maybe going for a corner office.

  5. So, what you’re saying is, if someone (hypothetically) has owned a sear that was manufactured on the 19th, and they don’t get a letter, the ATF may not even have a record of it anymore, and it’s not even worth reporting when it sinks with that person’s (hypothetical) boat (hypothetically)?

    • This opens up some seriously fun possibilities.

      Sure would be neat if Libertarian minded Anonymous hacked into the ATF database and wiped those records.

      And for a cherry on top, handed a right-minded archive clerk a few million bucks for the backup to be replaced with blank media.

      And no hardcopy to restore from. 🙂

    • Well; whoever purchased these date-affected sears and/or machine guns will have their $200 Tax Stamp affixed to their BATF-Approved Form 4s.

      I would suggest _ALL_ these affected Transferees _immediately_ contact their respective US Representatives and US Senators, filing official complaints against the BATFE as an entity and its Director and personnel individually.

      It’s a federal felony crime under 18 USC 241¹/242² to conspire to violate the Civil Rights of a person.


      If two or more persons conspire to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or because of his having so exercised the same; or

      If two or more persons go in disguise on the highway, or on the premises of another, with intent to prevent or hinder his free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege so secured—

      They shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and if death results from the acts committed in violation of this section or if such acts include kidnapping or an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse or an attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill, they shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for any term of years or for life, or both, or may be sentenced to death.

      2) Whoever, under color of any law, statute, ordinance, regulation, or custom, willfully subjects any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or to different punishments, pains, or penalties, on account of such person being an alien, or by reason of his color, or race, than are prescribed for the punishment of citizens, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both; and if bodily injury results from the acts committed in violation of this section or if such acts include the use, attempted use, or threatened use of a dangerous weapon, explosives, or fire, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and if death results from the acts committed in violation of this section or if such acts include kidnapping or an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill, shall be fined under this title, or imprisoned for any term of years or for life, or both, or may be sentenced to death.

  6. “Complicating this process is the fact that the ATF has lost most of their records. The machine gun registry is incomplete — they lost a ton of records when they digitized the registry and destroyed the paper copies of the firearms registrations. ”

    What is the full story about this loss of records?

    One (of the many) problem(s) with registering guns is that the registrar can’t make a mistake. The mistake by the registrar would turn the lawful owner into a criminal; probably a felon.

    The Antis would never admit that the Feds would ever make a mistake in a bureaucratic process. However, if the ATF screwed up the NFA registry then this is strong evidence that it would have no chance of ever keeping track of the current owners of 300 million regular guns.

    We ought to publicize the story of the NFA registry and everything that went wrong with it. E.g., if “the People” came to understand that there X “registered” machine-guns in civilian hands where the Feds don’t know who has it that would be cause for doubt. Then, the question arises, for those holders-in-due-course (probably heirs), do they have the original registration stamp? If not, we have a situation where it’s perfectly clear that the gun is lawful but that there is no way for either the ATF or the owner to prove it; so, the owner goes directly to jail, doesn’t pass Go and pays $100,000 fine.

    • Excellent point. Didn’t think about all the other MGs that may not be in the registry but were legally registered…

      • I think any failures on the part of the ATF in maintaining the NFA registry is a treasure-trove of dirty laundry that we ought to air. It’s NOT because any such failure with respect to NFA items is a serious threat to public safety; rather, it’s because each such mistake would demonstrate that the Feds can’t maintain a gun registry.

        Let’s see; the ATF has been maintaining this registry how long? Since 1934 you say; well, then, after 10 or 20 years they probably ought to have gotten the hang of it. So, in each category of NFA item, how many guns can they account for? Is there any control over the registrations such as a serial number? Something that would tell us how many registrations they have outright lost? What is the distribution of last registration date by make+model+serial? E.g., if the last time they transferred Tommy-gun #12345 was in 1939 we can be pretty sure the owner is dead by now and the heir hasn’t re-registered that gun. Do you know where this machine gun is?

        No one will care about a few AOWs or SBSs; but SBS will be noteworthy; and how about a DD? What if the ATF couldn’t account for a 20 mm cannon?

        A few statistics, a few egregious stories, and the general public will begin to loose confidence that the ATF could manage a registry. Thereupon, we ask: Why should your father or uncle go to prison just because the ATF lost the records for his registered shotgun?

        • “No one will care about a few AOWs or SBSs; but SBS (I suppose you meant “SBR”?) will be noteworthy; and how about a DD?”

          Each of the ‘Flash-Bang’ grenades used by law enforcement agencies are registered as ‘Class C Destructive Devices’, and it’s a well-known fact that LEO agencies have a very poor record of notifying BATFE when these are ‘destroyed’ by their usage.

        • Remember that BATFE canceled the already-issued $200 Tax Stamp on the newly-manufactured/newly registered machine gun registered to a Machine Gun Trust.

          AND they refused to refund the ‘tax’!

  7. Any source or link on this supposed reclassification? I don’t put it past the ATF and people have expected it for a long time. A little more source information would help.

  8. If I had sent the on a legal machine gun that the ATF sent a letter saying they were gonna take, I’d be pretty tempted to send them one saying “molon labe.”

  9. So these registered machine guns were legal for decades, and now ATF wants to say the paperwork missed the deadline by a few hours. The appropriate time for them to make a fuss about paperwork errors was in 1986. It’s 29 years later. The ATF now wants to punish forms for coming in a few hours late when they’ve been approved for 29 years? If someone tried to nullify a form they accepted from me 29 years ago on the grounds it was a few hours late (29 years ago), I’d be beyond outraged. That’s what ATF appears to be doing. Anyone who outlaws guns on such ridiculous ex posto facto grounds deserves to be hanged.

    • They are going to really piss of a lot of very wealthy people who could afford full-auto.

      Wealthy enough to afford a serious legal assault on the ATF.

      Something tells me the ATF may well regret making that move.

      • “Something tells me the ATF may well regret making that move.”

        Oh, I hope so. Love to see em busted down to regulating only arms held by government agencies. Wipe all restrictions of any kind on civilian ownership.

      • This was my first thought as well. ATF, go ahead and piss off a lot of wealthy people. Maybe it will start us down the road to dumping the NFA all together.

    • Apparently these BATF**uckups are unaware of the long-accepted legal principle that something ‘illegal’ at the outset, but accepted as ‘legal’ for an extended period of time, becomes LEGAL and is not subject to being ‘ex-post-facto’ declared otherwise.

  10. In ’86, I asked the former head of an ATF office in a large city why they didn’t have another amnesty like in ’68 to get unregistered MG’s registered.
    He told me that there were so many illegal guns out there, that amnesty would take the entire manpower of ATF doing nothing but register those guns until the year 2000 !
    Guess that Hughes Amendment really works well, huh ?

  11. Someone’s going to lose big on this, but it could very well be the antis. Only the dumbass ATF would think now is the ideal time to try this. Bring it.

    • I suspect we would have a better chance of clipping the Hughes Amendment in the courts.

      The whole question is how much money will the PotG raise to fund lawsuits and lobbying to break-down the entire array of gun-controls at the Federal and State levels. Democracy isn’t cheap; it takes money. And, intrepid warriors who will do battle with governments.

      Another important aspect is setting priorities. Granted, the Hughes Amendment is a travesty. OK, so what? Among all the travesties visited upon the People, where does this one rank? More importantly, where does it fit in in the sequence of logical steps toward breaking-down the array of gun-controls? If we got the Hughes domino to fall would that help take down the next domino? Or, would it be better to start with AOWs or SBRs?

      I don’t presume to know what the strategic sequence ought to be; nor am I presumptuous enough to know whether one control or another is more important. I think National Reciprocity might be the most important; but perhaps it should be GFZs.

      Lack of focus among the community of PotG is a serious problem – I believe. Among the most vociferous commentators seem to take an absolutist approach: all gun laws should be repealed. But that doesn’t seem to be a plan that works in our republican form of government. We have to eat the elephant one bite at a time. But which bite?

      • Think of it this way: “Does it make ANY sense to register as a ‘Short-Barreled Rifle’ a rifle which has an Over All Length (OAL) more that the 26″ minimum length as shown in NFA`34 (as amended): barrel length notwithstanding?”

        Another consideration: Shotguns with barrel lengths shorter than 18″ were used by military and civilian ‘militia’ units _long_ before NFA`34 and “Miller v. U.S.”!

        Think the ‘Blunderbuss’ used by the United States Navy and the colonial Privateers, among others.

        • The more I think about the gun laws the more incongruities that I see.

          We could make something of these incongruities IF-and-ONLY-IF we mount the effort to make our case. Mounting the requisite effort is something we PotG just aren’t very good at. We aren’t really a “pack” that hunts for our survival as a group. We are more like a large population of lone-wolves.

          SCOTUS is dragging its feet. It doesn’t want to make a decision on the R-BA. It doesn’t want to make a decision on what “arms” are protected. SCOTUS will take social initiative where it wishes to (abortion, gay marriage) and hang-back deferring to the legislatures and the voters when it wishes NOT to make a decision. SCOTUS is there to protect the rights IT deems worthy of guaranteeing.

          The way to judicial support is a long one. It requires a willingness on our part to fund all the litigation that will build inconsistencies across the inferior courts. It requires a willingness on our part to elect Presidents who will nominate justices who will uphold our rights. We haven’t done very well along these lines.

          The Congressional route should be more responsive. We need to support candidates – where necessary from other states and districts – who will break the back of the seniority system in Congress. We need to vote down RINOs to break the back of the seniority system in Congress. If the GOP wakes-up and realizes that we will vote them out-of-power then – and ONLY then – will they be responsive to the PotG.

          When the GOP finds that the PotG are a power that will remove them from their seats then they will begin to take our complaints seriously.

          Ultimately, we have to convince our friends and neighbors to support the RKBA; without the votes in the ballot box, nothing other than our cartridge boxes will defend the 2A.

  12. Must be nice to just make sh!t up as you go along, change your rules at a whim, and charge people to play your game.

  13. So now we have a bunch of collectors, many of whom are fairly rich, who all stand to lose anywhere from thousands to tens of thousands dollars of value, and therefore have considerable incentive to take this to court and fight it till the end. That’ll be one well funded class action lawsuit!

    • Digital records are fragile things.

      It sure would be a shame if something bad happened to them.

      And the backup to disappear.

      Incompetent archive clerks.

      Hello, Anonymous?


  14. “I have a phone and a pen…” This is the kind of “do something!” crap that happens after there’s a mass shooting. The gov’t is a blind dog in a meat house, doesn’t know what it’s doing or biting onto

  15. Cite your sources or clam up. This has the stench of fear mongering smeared all over it. This article has absolutely 0 proof to back-up any claim it is making. I call b.s.

  16. Time to get rid of the Hughes Amendment for the illegal travesty it always was.

    You can’t just ban all production of an entire and huge category of constitutionally protected merchandise, even if you could license and tax the crap out of it, which fedgov can’t legally do either.

  17. “According to sources within the ATF…”

    Is TTAG helping “sources within the ATF” float a trial balloon here?
    If so, the answer is “not even you would be stupid enough to go to war with a few hundred mostly wealthy auto sear owners over this”.

  18. Remember, transferring machine guns, WITH NO BACKGROUND CHECK, like it’s still 1933…

    …is ONLY legal to be done if you’re handing them over FREE OF CHARGE, and if you are the U.S. federal tyranny, and handing them to the following groups who are trusted more than American citizens who used to have a 2nd amendment protecting them:

    1. Mexican cartels {no 4473 or form 1 or pesky form 4 is required to transfer any guns in this instance}

    2. Syrian “moderates” who became “isis.” {no federal forms required for machine guns, destructive devices, and other military weapons}

    It’s called a re-do of the civilian marksmanship program for your own good.

  19. “Maybe this will wake some people up about how unconstitutional the Hughes amendment is.”

    That would be nice but I fear that instead it will wake people up to the reality of “what?!!!!! people can own machine guns?!! they should only be owned by police and military”

  20. Could you provide a link sourcing and explaining exactly what happened with the destruction of records during digitization?

  21. This seems like pretty much guaranteed proof that Obummer has his goons looking at every possible angle to seize weapons he never thought we should have in the first place.

    So the next time an anti-gunner says “we don’t want to take your guns” you can throw this one right back in their face.

  22. “…they lost a ton of records when they digitized the registry and destroyed the paper copies of the firearms registrations…”

    Mark my words, there will be an information apocalypse, and it’s closer than you think.

    All these digital records we’ve been accumulating are ephemeral — mere electrons that are resting in their current state only because we’re actively forcing them to do so. We’re one poorly timed SHTF event away from losing most of the world’s currently existing stored knowledge. The burning of the library at Alexandria won’t hold a candle to it when it happens.

    And very few people know that it’s already happening. Most types of digital media storage will last only a few decades at best, even under ideal conditions. Data rot is a real thing.

    • Very true. Unless/until we find a persistent non-volitile way to store data. Currently the “solution” is to just throw ever more hardware at the problem for redundancy. However, hardware still fails, and the increasing data density means longer rebuild times for RAIDs, etc. Further, power spikes, lightening strikes, earthquakes, etc, can wipe out large swaths of hardware at a time, or at least make data unavailable while it’s being rebuilt. When Alexandria was burned, it didn’t cause all the pages in all the books in the known world to suddenly go blank. 😉

    • Well, yes, but remember that information is not the same thing as knowledge. All knowledge is also information, but not all information is knowledge. For instance, having 500 photos of the Washington Monument from about the same place on the Mall, at about the same time (e.g. a tour bus stopped), probably doesn’t give much of an increase in knowledge about the Monument over the first couple of photos. Or, cat videos … You know, on second thought let’s not go there.

      The library at Alexandria was a tragic loss, agreed. While we can’t know the ratio of knowledge to information there, it’s probably pretty high because it was expensive to duplicate records back then and most things were kept because it was seen as significant.

      Today, digital storage is so inexpensive there’s little economic reason to purge information you don’t need anymore. (Legal reasons are a different conversation, as are search-and-retrieve efficiencies.) I’d guess that we could lose 90%+ of all digital storage today and not really miss it, and 99%+ without serious issues. I think a bigger problem is that such an event would also destroy our ability to retrieve any of that information – OSs aren’t usually in ROM these days.

  23. Sounds like an ATF new hire/intern was processing a sear transfer recently and then innocently asked about May 19th vs 20th on the F4.

    I kid you not, that is what probably happened. This is partly everyone’s fault. We all wanted the ATF to get more new hires the past few years!

  24. Where is the impotent, sell out the 2nd Amendment NRA on this? Oh, I forgot, they don’t fight for the Second Amendment, they only support hunters rights.

    • Now there’s a classic paranoid nut response. No evidence that any such thing is happening, and you’re already blaming the NRA.

      • There’s a good reason for this: the NRA made a conscious decision to NOT fight against the Hughes Amendment back in 1986.

        I should know: as a then-ATF licensed Title II Class 2 Manufacturer of NFA arms; including machine guns; and a Life Member of the NRA, I asked them to fight it.

        They said there weren’t enough machine gun owners / buyers to waste ‘their (NRA’s) time’ attempting to get it defeated!

        I told them that failure to do so would only encourage even more bans.

        They didn’t agree.

        And then came the ‘Assault Weapons Ban 0f 1994’…..

  25. All NFA approved transfers are still on paper sent to the transferor and the not the transferee, so the registrant has proof of registration. So, there will be no digital apocalypse against NFA records in that regard. Digitization of the NFRTR has NOT resulted in massive loss of records. Loss of records did occur many years ago during and after records were kept on 3×5 cards and during the transition from that method of storing the records. In my opinion, that loss of records is greatly exaggerated since owners still had their registration paperwork to prove legal possession. A greater problem has been owners losing their registrations and MGs being given to other people who no longer know who was the original registrant. There are other issues, too.
    I don’t see this as legitimate or going anywhere.

    • “All NFA approved transfers are still on paper sent to the transferor and the not the transferee, so the registrant has proof of registration.” Seemed a little odd at first, but now it makes sense. The seller needs the stamp to prove that he paid the transfer tax and did the paperwork. I think that the buyer should also have a copy to prove that the transfer was taxed and registered. Still, the problem is that the buyer is in possession of a NFA weapon. He needs to be able to prove that the tax was paid and registered. The seller will not necessarily retain the paperwork; and even if he does, the buyer may not be able to find the seller decades after the sale. The buyer may lose his copy of the paperwork. The buyer may die, leaving the MG to his heirs who probably won’t understand the importance of that old piece of paper the the deceased’s files. Recognizing these contingencies, it’s really important that the ATF keep its records in order.

      “Digitization of the NFRTR has NOT resulted in massive loss of records.” I’ll take your word for it. This is a dicy area. If the Feds follow good backup procedures then there need be no such loss. If a bank were preserving the digital records one could be pretty sure that they would do a good job. (No certainty; just a very high probability). But, this is the Federal government. They can’t keep the IRS’s or State Department’s e-mails preserved. We really ought to be concerned with ATF’s record keeping.

      “Loss of records did occur many years ago during and after records were kept on 3×5 cards and during the transition from that method of storing the records.” I’d really like to know more about this loss of data. Can you refer me to any published reports?

      “In my opinion, that loss of records is greatly exaggerated since owners still had their registration paperwork to prove legal possession.” It probably is greatly exaggerated; but, it’s probably a problem for at least some owners or heirs. I’m mostly interested in this issue to the extent that it provides evidence that the ATF (and the Feds in general) can’t be trusted to keep a registry. If they couldn’t do it with NFA items, how could we have confidence that they would do it if all guns were registered? THIS is why the history of the NFA registry is interesting.

      “A greater problem has been owners losing their registrations and MGs being given to other people who no longer know who was the original registrant. There are other issues, too.
      I don’t see this as legitimate or going anywhere.”

      If we ignore this history then we are overlooking an excellent argument against general gun registration. Therefore, it’s important for those few of you who have some memory of the history of the NFA registry to recall and publish as much of that history as possible.


    • The Transferor can only keep a COPY of the Tax-Stamped Form 4 for their files: the ORIGINAL Form 4 MUST be delivered to the Transferee along with the NFA Arm.

      BTW: the Transferor is the one responsible for payment of the Transfer Tax: the Transferor then passes that cost along to the Transferee as part of the purchase price

      Here’s a little NFA FYI:

      A little more relevant info:

  26. The ATF has repeatedly shown major incompetence and complete disregard of the law in some cases. If they are going to start magically reclassifying pre-ban to post-ban…Then I don’t see a problem with citizens magically reclassifying post-ban to pre-ban.

  27. FYI: A little background on NFA registrations:

    In testimony before the Subcommittee on Treasury, Postal Service and General Government of the Committee on Appropriations – May 1, 2001, Mr. Eric Larson documented many of these problems. The Treasury IG has also investigated and documented these and additional problems ( OIG-99-009, dated October 26, 1998, and OIG-99-018, dated December 18, 1998). The problems and errors include:

    Thousands of registrations to dead persons (firearm whereabouts unknown – Unknown disposition)
    Duplicate registrations (same weapon registered to different persons)
    Duplicate registrations (same weapon registered twice to the same person)
    Unknown numbers of registrations destroyed by BATF employees
    Unknown numbers of transfers which BATF failed to update in the NFRTR.
    Unknown numbers of legal transfers destroyed by BATF employees.
    Unknown number of erroneous updates to registrations by BATF employees
    Thousands of existing registrations no longer required because requirement was administratively removed by BATF.
    Many registrations are for guns now defined as antiques and exempt from registration.
    Registrations for guns never required to be registered.
    Illegal registrations allowed when BATF failed to follow their own amnesty procedures and allowed such registrations beyond the 1968 amnesty.
    Registrations to incorrect or obsolete addresses.
    Incorrect or inaccurate serial numbers
    Mispelled or inaccurate names.
    Mispelled or inaccurate make or model.
    Registrations for non-existent weapons (spurious registrations).
    Current location of many (if not most) registered NFA firearms is unknown.

    In other words, BATF has lost track of hundreds of thousands of machine guns, and other restricted firearms! Where are they? Who owns them? BATF doesn’t know! However, BATF repeatedly states “…we do not believe that the fact that an individual registrant is deceased affects the accuracy of the Record or that it make the registry unreliable or ineffective as a law enforcement tool. To the contrary, the registry is reliable and effective for law enforcement purposes….”

    • Sounds like proof ATF should just go away. All the way away. What part if the A and the T isn’t also useless and harmful? It’s not like they’re into quality control or product improvement. They exist only to tax, take and abuse. And transfer guns to the cartels for the 0bama administration.

    • Great info!

      However; even more evidence about NFA`34’s questionable constitutionality and the NRA’s complicity:

      From the National Firearms Act: Hearings on H.R. 9066, Before the House Committee on Ways and Means, 73d Cong., 2d Sess. 6 (1934) [hereinafter 1934 House Firearms Hearings] comes:

      MR. LEWIS: “Lawyer though I am, I have never quite understood how the laws of the various States have been reconciled with the provision in our Constitution denying the privilege to the legislature to take away the right to carry arms. Concealed-weapon laws, of course, are familiar in the various States; there is a legal theory upon which we prohibit the carrying of weapons–the smaller weapons.”

      ATTORNEY GENERAL CUMMINGS: “Do you have any doubt as to the power of the Government to deal with machine guns as they are transported in interstate commerce?”

      MR. LEWIS: “I hope the courts will find no doubt on a subject like this, General; but I was curious to know how we escaped that provision in the Constitution.”

      ATTORNEY GENERAL CUMMINGS: “Oh, we do not attempt to escape it. We are dealing with another power, namely, the power of taxation, and of regulation under the interstate commerce clause. You see, if we made a statute absolutely forbidding any human being to have a machine gun, you might say there is some constitutional question involved. But when you say, “We will tax the machine gun,” and when you say that “the absence of a license showing payment of the tax has been made indicates that a crime has been perpetrated,” you are easily within the law.”

      MR. LEWIS: “In other words, it does not amount to prohibition, but allows of regulation.”

      ATTORNEY GENERAL CUMMINGS: “That is the idea. We have studied that very carefully.”

      [“Lewis” = Congressman David John Lewis, D-MD-6
      [“Cummings” – U.S. Attorney General Homer Stille Cummings


      NRA President’s Testimony During Congressional Debate
      of the National Firearms Act of 1934

      Congressional hearings over the National Firearms Act of 1934 (H.R.9066) took place April 16 & 18 and May 14, 15, & 16 of 1934. Then-NRA President Karl T. Frederick testified on behalf of the National Rifle Association (NRA).

      Mr. DICKINSON. “I will ask you whether or not this bill interferes in any way with the right of a person to keep and bear arms or his right to be secure in his person against unreasonable search; in other words, do you believe this bill is unconstitutional or that it violates any constitutional provision?”

      Mr. FREDERICK. “I have not given it any study from that point of view. I will be glad to submit in writing my views on that subject, but I do think it is a subject which deserves serious thought.”

      NOTE: Another statement the NRA’s then-President made that day:

      MR. FREDERICK: … “I have never believed in the general practice of carrying weapons. I seldom carry one. … I do not believe in the general promiscuous toting of guns. I think it should be sharply restricted and only under licenses.”

      Read more at:

      • Thank you; these are illuminating quotations.

        It is judicially and politically inconceivable that the power to tax will be constrained in any way; short of a Constitutional amendment. The fact that the poll tax was made unconstitutional by the 24th Amendment is the exception that proves the point. The NFA of ’34 was deliberately devised to use a nearly prohibitive tax as the means to eliminate arms the elite disparaged.

        (A contrary argument: In Harper v. Virginia State Board of Elections SCOTUS ruled against a poll tax applicable to State elections in 1966: “a state violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution whenever it makes the affluence of the voter or payment of any fee an electoral standard. Voter qualifications have no relation to wealth.” Now that the 2A has been “selectively incorporated” against the States, the way seems to have been opened to argue: ‘ the 14A makes the affluence of the keeper/bearer or payment of any fee a right-to-arms standard.’ The 24A was adopted subsequently in 1966 but applies only to Federal elections.)

        The RKBA remains VULNERABLE to taxation because neither the judiciary nor the legislatures are naturally inclined to come to the defense of the 2A. Legislatures will tax whatever their constituents will tolerate. The judiciary will demure from appeal to the Constitution because they favor governmental control.

        Scalia in Heller wrote: “The very enumeration of the right takes out of the hands of government—even the Third Branch of Government—the power to decide on a case-by-case basis whether the right is really worth insisting upon.” In a very practical sense, Scalia is MISTAKEN. The enumeration of a right means LITTLE when the voters deem the right NOT really worth insisting upon. Legislators will ALWAYS do what they please while the judiciary stands aside mute.

        (It is inexplicable to me that SCOTUS heard the appeals of Heller and McDonald. What motivated them to do so? So long as we don’t understand the answer to this question we can’t know how to influence SCOTUS to take an appeal that would secure the right-to-BEAR-arms. And so, the judiciary can ignore any aspect of the 2A guarantee at pleasure.)

        The founding fathers forewarned us of the permeability of mere “parchment barriers”. Very little remains today of a popular commitment to a principled adherence to the principle of a government bound-up by a written constitution. The typical American mind today is all too willing to remaining open to interpreting every provision in the Constitution in whatever way seems to be personally appealing at the moment.

        Therefore, WE PotG ERROR – POLITICALLY – in appealing first to the 2A Constitutional guarantee. Instead, we must FIRST and fundamentally argue for the everlasting soundness of the SOCIAL UTILITY of the individual’s inalienable rights to: life; self-defense; and, securing the legitimacy of the use-of-force in the hands of the sovereignty – i.e., the People themselves as individuals.

        Each voter must embrace at a visceral level the wisdom of individual inalienable rights. To grasp the idea that:
        – the sum of the values of each individual’s right
        is greater than,
        – the product of the value of the average individual’s right multiplied by the population.

        The Chinese may believe that their civilization will survive if all subjugate themselves to the will of the emperor for the good of the empire. We believe that there is something equally sacred in the rights of the first individual’s right that must not be sacrificed to the survival of the last individual’s right.

        Insights, such as “When seconds count, the police are only minutes away”, bring the thoughtful listener to recognize that there is no practical advantage derived from protecting the collective at the expense of the individual. The police can’t possibly protect us effectively as a collective. First, we must protect ourselves. When we fail, the police might be able to protect other members of the collective by arresting our perpetrator.

        The mother with a CWP in her purse exemplifies the ONLY effective defense of the RKBA.

  28. I’m an 07/02 FFL. Manufacturers have 48 hours to file a Form 2 reporting manufacture of an NFA item. The quote below makes absolutely no sense due to this. They could have manufactured the guns on the 19th and would have had until the 21st to file the F2. Also, F2s were either faxed or mailed back then. There were no e-forms. There’s no way the ATF has the ability 29 years later to check post marks on mailed Form 2s. This article just doesn’t pass the smell test.

    “who manufactured registered machine gun sears prior to the deadline on the 19th but failed to file the paperwork until the 20th.”

  29. Regardless of the source or accuracy of this account…I would certainly not put it past them. The ATF has been playing a lot of stupid games lately.

  30. Let’s hope Bob Type 07 / Class 02 from previous comment at 20:08 hours is right. Let’s hope truth and logic prevail.

  31. If people want to keep acknowledging authority the federal government doesn’t have and never did, there’s really no help for them, they deserve the misery they get. The NFA, Hughes Amendment, GCA68, and every other federal gun law is illegal. Period. No one can present a valid argument that the federal government has the authority to make such laws because no such argument exists – they NEVER had that authority. The sooner Americans stand up and put this criminal government back into it’s constitutional box, the sooner they start telling the government it WILL obey OR ELSE, the sooner liberty will be restored and innocent Americans will stop being oppressed for exercising their inalienable right to arms. Say NO.

    • The government’s authority in this and similar matters was established in 1791 during the Whiskey Rebellion while Washington was President, and the .gov came out as top dog in that fight.

      I dont like the situation either, but what exactly are you advocating, here?

      • This is a good point that we should recognize, reluctantly, as an insurmountable barrier. The Federal government has power to levy excise taxes. And tax it will do. The proposition of getting Congressmen or the courts to disavow the power to tax guns is slim to none.

        Albeit somewhat indirect, the poll tax is illuminating. States once levied a poll tax on voters to keep Blacks and other poor people from voting. This was a State levy, not a Federal levy; nevertheless, I think it’s illuminating. Congress took a dim view of the poll tax. Why did it not merely legislate against the poll tax as an infringement on the right to vote? Perhaps because it felt it lacked the authority to legislate to stop the States from taxing. If so, it doesn’t apply to Federal excise taxes on guns. Alternatively, perhaps it felt that no restriction on the power to tax could be imposed by statute alone; it would take a Constitutional amendment. In this latter case, then rescinding taxes on guns would probably also take a Constitutional amendment.

        In 1934 the $200 tax was onerous. If a court challenge had been launched at that time it MIGHT have been successful on grounds that the tax was so onerous as to constitute an “infringement” violative of the 2A. Today, such an argument would probably not carry any weight with the courts.

        We need to keep an eye on the power-to-tax as a vehicle for infringement. It’s more likely to come in the form of increased burdensome taxes on regular guns and ammo. A better strategy is to publicize the contribution guns and ammo taxes make to conservation projects. Get the Environmentalists to recognize the importance of these taxes. Make them understand that higher guns and ammo taxes will come with opposition from PotG jeopardizing the funding for environmental projects. If they don’t support us they will kill the goose that lays the golden eggs that fund their causes.

        • “The Federal government has power to levy excise taxes. And tax it will do.”

          HOWEVER: as soon as the law was changed _prohibiting_ the collection of the “tax” authorized by the 1934 Congress it made the ban UNconstitutional; as was noted by then-US Attorney General Homer Stille Cummings:

          “Oh, we do not attempt to escape it (the 2nd Amendment’s “…shall not be infringed” prohibition). We are dealing with another power, namely, the power of taxation, and of regulation under the interstate commerce clause. You see, if we made a statute absolutely forbidding any human being to have a machine gun, you might say there is some constitutional question involved. But when you say, “We will tax the machine gun,” and when you say that “the absence of a license showing payment of the tax has been made indicates that a crime has been perpetrated,” you are easily within the law.”

        • THAT is a very CLEVER argument!

          The reasoning used in the construction of the NFA’34 can be used to undermine the constitutionality of the Hughes Amendment.

          The problem remains: How to get SCOTUS to accept the appeal to rule on this argument?

          It seems to me that somehow you have to get SCOTUS invested in the idea that the power-to-tax is threatened.

          Suppose, e.g., that the elite had imposed a tax upon all religious practices; but, then, there were a Hal-Al Amendment precluding the collection of that tax from practitioners of one particular religion. The consequence of the Hal-Al Amendment would be to forbid the practice of the excepted religion.

          We undertake an attack on the Hal-Al exception. The elite really needs the tax on religious practices in general. But, the Circuit courts are ruling the tax unconstitutional because it prohibits the practice of a particular religion by precluding the collection of this tax on this particular religion. Tax collections are being threatened in all these Circuits; this has got to stop! At stake is the 1A right to practice a (favored) religion and tax revenues. Now, you have a case where SCOTUS is compelled to take the case. It MUST take the case to preserve the revenue and to preserve the favor of a preferred religion.

          My supposition is incredibly far-fetched; sorry, best I could do on short notice. How will you find such a case that might pave the way for a case that SCOTUS must take?

          SCOTUS could ignore appeals attacking the Hughes Amendment even if the Circuits were split nearly 50:50. There is not enough revenue (from sales of $200 stamps on machine guns too expensive to shoot). No favored constituency is lobbying for relief. SCOTUS is answerable to no one.

          And so, I return to my argument: the security of the 2A turns on popular support.

    • “Remember: Evil exists because good men don’t kill the government officials committing it.”
      ~Kurt Hofmann

  32. what is prompting these tyrants to pull this move? It’s completely unnecessary and down right illegal. With all the illegal, degenerate, and disgusting crap the ATF has done, hearing them do crap like this is infuriating. Surely there has no be someone with an interest in firearms and a heap of money to bring lawsuits against these bureaucratic crooks. What the hell is the NRA doing about this injustice? Busy rambling on about ‘good guys with guns’ and placating Fudds?

    • The answer is: We, the PotG, are the people who have to fund these lawsuits.

      It is not realistic to expect the NRA to cover every aspect of the fight for the 2A. It’s unrealistic to recite the debate over the NRA here. Under the best of circumstances, the NRA is going to have an institutional viewpoint that is focused on a few facets of gun rights and it can’t dilute its resources trying to cover everything we the PotG think they should cover.

      It is NOT in OUR interest that NRA become any more of a monolith of gun rights than it already is. We need some diversity in gun rights organizations to ensure that secondary and tertiary issues are given the attention they deserve. The SAF is an important institution on the national level. Numerous State organizations are important for pursuing gun rights at the State level; e.g., Right-to-Carry.

      NFA item owners need to band together and oppose this move as well as advance other NFA-related causes. Those of us who don’t own NFA items can kick-in a few bucks to support them on principle.

  33. “Our sources are telling us that people in possession of such a sear will be getting a nasty letter and possibly a knock on the door to inform them that they are now illegally in possession of a “post sample” machine gun.”

    Who are your sources? This is complete bullshit.

  34. It’s astounding that we allow the ATF to make policy when they can’t even manage a paper-to-digital transition of their own records.

    • “To er is human: to really screw up requires a computer.”

      “The good thing about a computer is that it does _exactly_ what you tell it to do.
      The bad thing about a computer is that it does _exactly_ what you tell it to do!”

  35. Open Bolt subguns are so easy to make it’s stupid… I’m willing to bet more have been manufactured since the Hughes Amendment, than before the Hughes Amendment… But, obviously, they’re not on paper. Because you can’t make a law to control something that’s so simple. It’s like a ban on weed… It’s impotent. May as well try to ban Oxygen, or Gravity…

  36. Time to repeal GCA-68, all amendments thereto, and Hughes.
    Then, disband the ATF.
    With Heller, is NFA-34, and above, even constitutional?

    • None were Constitutional before Heller, regardless of whatever opinion the 9 could put forth. 9 justices… Hmmmm. Do they each have a ring I wonder?

  37. NO gun should ever be banned or registered. Anyone suggesting that should be brought up on civil rights charges. If that don’t fix it there are other ways.

  38. They are doing the same thing to me! Bought an M16 from a friend last year.. HIS paperwork is APPROVED WITHOUT RESTRICTION, SIGNED BY THE DIRECTOR, TAX STAMP AFFIXED… Dated 1990, his seller has no copy of his paperwork since he purchased the guy 35 years back.. Still ATF says they think it was a “Restricted” Transfer and are sitting on it still!! I say if they did the transfer once they need to do it again!!

    • You and your friend need to file a complaint with both your Congressmen and Senators. Believe me, the BATFE NFA Branch Director does _not_ like to be at “the bottom of the hill” when the shiit starts sliding down.

  39. Only the start of these Marxist democraps disarming and then enslaving law abiding Americans.
    Heaven help this country if the hillabeast or the socialist wins and gets to name the next SC judges.
    If Guns are Outlawed only Outlaws will have Guns!

  40. Anyone who’s affected by this bullshit can head on over to the cess pool that is and thank the jackass lawyer who’s handle is NoloContendre for starting this avalanche of shit down upon legal NFA owners.

    This is undoubtedly HIS FAULT. The ATF is making us all pay for HIS machine gun shenanigans!

  41. Ok so line up the lawyers, they are the only ones that win. This will not go well for NoloContendre.
    Anyway I wont be spending 20k on something I cant use all the time and eats up $100 every time I want to play for 10 minutes. The only time you need an mg is if SHTF and if that happens its really easy ( for me ) to convert any weapon I want to FA. The legally owned ones will be the first confiscated anyway.
    Arent there rental places to play with these big boy toys?


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