I looked in my gun safe the other day (searching for a firearm I could sell to cover some AvGas related expenses) I came to a sudden and terrible realization: I can’t sell any of my long guns. Not that there are any contractual issues preventing me, but the fact of the matter is that they all have the name of my trust and my home town engraved on the receiver. I can’t really think of a modern rifle in my safe that I haven’t SBR’ed. That makes me a bit of an outlier — the vast majority of gun owners don’t have any Title II firearms in their safe. As a result they have been the “redheaded stepchildren” of gun rights, but their numbers are growing every day and the NFA Freedom Alliance is working to expand gun rights for those who own these items.
At the 2015 Gun Rights Policy Conference Todd Rathner (chairman of the NFAFA) came right out and said it: “The NFA should be ripped out, root and branch, and thrown in the trash.” You won’t find many people (in this crowd at least) who would disagree with that sentiment, but getting the general public and politicians in general to sign off as well is an uphill battle.
Todd compared the struggle for NFA repeal and legislation to the struggle for concealed carry permits. The common cry in both situations from the gun control activists is that there will be “blood in the streets” if the existing restrictions are lifted. We’ve come to realize that this has never actually happened and the expansion of gun rights actually might do more to reduce “violence” than increase it, but getting the general public to understand that concept as well takes effort. As a result the NFAFA has taken a more piecemeal approach of incremental progress in the states, and they’re seeing results.
The first thing they are focusing on is a repeal of the hunting ban in some states. When I started hunting in Texas it was still illegal to hunt game animals with silencers (while at the same time hunting without silencers is illegal in some European counties). Thankfully that changed shortly after I moved to the state, but some states still have such a prohibition in place. Getting these states to change their ways is the first step in silencer normalization and there are only a few states left to finish the job.
Another thing they are working on is “shall sign” legislation. For individuals, if you want to buy or build a firearm that falls under the National Firearms Act you need to get your local Chief Law Enforcement Officer (CLEO) to sign off on the paperwork that you are a good person. In Texas, the decision on whether to sign those forms is left to the individual sheriffs. This allows them to do things like refuse to sign any and all paperwork (even for law abiding citizens) if they don’t like guns. NFAFA is working on legislation that would require CLEOs to sign off on paperwork unless there’s an actual reason (like an arrest and conviction).
The last thing they are working on is removing the “defense to prosecution” aspect of NFA ownership. In some states all NFA items are illegal and anyone who owns them can be arrested, but if you present your legal registration paperwork in court you can get off the hook. “You can beat the wrap, but you can’t beat the ride” in other words. Getting those laws off the books would go a long way towards normalization of NFA items and reducing the stress on owners.
It’s great to hear an organization actually advocating for the one thing we all want: the repeal of the National Firearms Act. There’s no doubt that it is one of the dumbest laws on the book, and eliminating the law would have huge benefits for gun owners and manufacturers. Regulating silencers like guns instead of like radioactive material is their goal, and that sounded pretty damn good to the audience here at the GRPC.
Oh, and if you want to support them, they’re giving away a silencer and an SBR as prizes in a contest. FYI.