Machine Guns:  Fact and Fiction


The Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America and Article 1, Section 19 of the Constitution of the State of Alaska both recognize the individual right to own the types of firearms that are suitable for military use.  The Alaska Machine Gun Association supports our Country's founders premise that the power to govern flows from The People of these United States, and recognizes that These People enjoy the Civil Right and Responsibility of primary ownership and custody of all firearms.  



Fiction:         Machine guns are illegal.

Fact:         Individuals may legally own machine guns;  however, their possession is highly regulated.


                      Individuals have always been able to own machine guns.  Machine guns were totally unregulated until 1934 when the National Firearms Act (NFA) was enacted.  The NFA created a registry of all machine guns, short barreled rifles and shotguns, sound suppressors, destructive devices and certain other items.  Every manufacture or ownership transfer of a registered item was subjected to an excise tax of $200 or $5.  Each individual transferee must submit to an FBI background examination.  Two states, Delaware and Hawaii, prohibit civilian ownership of machine guns.  Nine other states, California, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, New York, Rhode Island, South Carolina and Washington have restrictions on individual possession such as requiring owners to be licensed dealers.



Fiction:         Only criminals want machine guns.

Fact:         Many different people want machine guns, for legal purposes.  Criminals may want them, but they cannot legally get them.


                      There are many gun collectors and many gun shooters with extremely varied interests.  Some folks collect antique Winchester rifles and other collect rare and extremely valuable machine guns.  Some folks shoot flintlock muskets and others shoot machine guns.  Prices in excess of $50,000 are not uncommon for rare collectable machine guns.  A machine gun for the ordinary shooter typically costs $3,000 to $10,000.  There are many local and national machine gun shooting events organized for both plinking and competition. The NFA collecting/shooting community is the most responsible class of all gun owners.  There are over 1,000,000 registered NFA items in America.  Nearly 4,000 of these are in Alaska.  Since 1934 only one case exists where any of these items was used by their owner in a violent crime.  Unfortunately, that issue involved a uniformed Dayton, Ohio policeman whose use of deadly force was judged to be inappropriate.



Fiction:         Hand grenades are now available in Anchorage.

Fact:             No, they’re not, but certain guns classified as destructive devices may be transferred.


                      Due to other laws regulating explosives, there are essentially no bombs, grenades, mines or similar devices which can be transferred in accordance with the provisions of the NFA.  The definition of items subject to individual ownership under the NFA includes machine guns, short barreled rifles and shotguns, sound suppressors, destructive devices and certain other weapons.  The legal definition of a destructive device includes bombs, grenades, mines and certain other explosive devices designed as weapons.  These items are not available for transfer under the NFA.  The definition of destructive devices also includes any gun firing a cartridge with a caliber greater than .50 not including shotguns other than Strikers, Sweepers and the USAS 12.  There are several of these large caliber guns including Boyes Rifles, Lahtis and Solothurns in addition to the Striker, Sweeper and USAS 12 shotguns which are of interest to the NFA collector.




Fiction:         It is cheaper to make a machine gun than buy one.

Fact:             Don’t even think about it!  It has been illegal since 1986 to make a machine gun for individual ownership.


                      Under no circumstance can a person make a machine gun for individual use.  However, an individual may make a short barreled rifle or shotgun, sound suppressor, destructive device or other weapon.  You must first apply for permission to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF) and pay the appropriate manufacturing tax.  Legal machine guns are expensive, but the price you pay for a legal machine gun is far less than the cost of lawyers, fines and jail time for illegally manufacturing a restricted item.



Fiction:         You must have a “Class 3 license” to own a machine gun.

Fact:             You do not need any license to own a machine gun.  You only need to apply for ownership and pay the transfer tax.


                      A class 3 license holder refers to the holder of a regular Federal Firearms Licensee who additionally pays a $500 per year excise tax for the privilege of buying and selling NFA items, exclusive of destructive devices.  An individual buyer of a machine gun, short barreled rifle or shotgun, sound suppressor or destructive device pays a $200 transfer tax.  The tax on certain collectable guns classified as "Any Other Weapon" is only $5.  The tax is paid once, when the item is acquired, and is never paid again.  There is no tax on registered items acquired by inheritance, although the heir must meet all ownership requirements and submit to the standard FBI background examination.  There is a tax free procedure to temporarily transfer your gun to a gunsmith for repairs or maintenance.



Fiction:         If you move, you have to register your machine gun again.

Fact:             No, but there are restrictions on transferring your gun between states.


                      You can move within your existing state of residence without restrictions.  To permanently relocate to another state, you must comply with the laws of that state and file a notification of permanent change of address with the BATF who keep their records on a state by state basis.  You may temporarily transport a NFA item into a state where it is legal after filing a notice of the transportation with the BATF.



Fiction:         You can acquire and transfer a NFA item from a friend out of state without paperwork.

Fact:             No  Interstate transfer requires the services of a dealer and proper documentation.


                      NFA transfers are subject to the same sales restrictions as are ordinary handguns.  You can acquire a NFA item directly from another resident of your own state, but to acquire one from out of state you must go through a licensed dealer in your state.  NFA dealers generally charge $100 for this service as it usually requires several hours of work and various out of pocket costs.



Fiction:         Ownership of a NFA item allows the BATF to come into your home, at will, to inspect firearms.

Fact:             An individual owner of a machine gun has the same rights to be free of unreasonable searches and seizures as any other citizen.


                      The BATF has certain rights to enter and inspect a licensed gun dealers business location, but not an individual owner’s residence.  The only way any law enforcement agency can come into your house, if you are not a licensed dealer using your house as your business, is under exigent circumstances or with a court ordered search warrant.



Fiction:         You cannot obtain local police approval to acquire a NFA item.

Fact:             You can obtain local police approval if you meet basic screening qualifications.


                      Individual requests for NFA transfers require a statement from the chief law enforcement officer, with jurisdiction over your place of residence, that they have no knowledge you will use the device for other than lawful purposes and your possession of the device is not in violation of State or Local law.  At the direction of Mayor Wuerch, procedures have been established to provide the necessary local approval to request a NFA transfer from the BATF.  After the statement is obtained the application is sent to the BATF for final review and approval.  No NFA item may be transferred until written approval is received from the BATF.