Episode II: Legal Machine Gun Ownership

According to Webster’s Dictionary a machine gun is; a gun for sustained rapid fire that uses bullets; broadly: an automatic weapon. Pretty simple definition and who am I to argue with Webster. However, if you listen to some of the news media geniuses, every black rife is an automatic weapon. Basically, if you pull the trigger and more than one bullet comes out of the barrel you’ve got yourself a machine gun. This is not how the average gun works, one trigger pull, one bullet, single fire or semi-automatic. This is the firearm that anyone passing a background check will typically purchase.

The federal law governing fully automatic weapons is called the National Firearms Act, or NFA. First enacted in 1934, this federal law regulates fully automatic weapons, suppressors, short-barreled rifles, short barrel shotguns, and destructive devices such as bombs or grenades. The NFA was subsequently modified in 1968 by the Gun Control Act, and in 1986 by the Firearm Owners Protection Act. Citizens may own a machine gun if it was manufactured prior to 1986.This does not apply to FFLs (certain gun dealers / manufacturers) nor law enforcement.

If you want to own a machine gun chances are you can if you are not a “prohibited person”, meaning you can pass the background check and if, the full-auto machine gun was made before 1986, and your state law does not ban that the firearm.Machine guns fall under the National Firearms Act (NFA) and require the same process as purchasing a silencer, short barrel rifle or short barrel shotgun. To purchase a legal machine gun, you must submit a completed BATFE Form 4 along with your fingerprints, passport size photograph and $200. The process normally takes six to eight months but can take much longer depending on the background investigation.

Some states have banned machine guns despite federal law. This is usually based on function (automatic fire) or features such as large capacity magazines. The same way some states ban only large capacity magazines. If you travel with your legal machine gun, make sure you know the laws of the state(s) you enter. Federal law will not protect you if you take a machine gun into a state where they are banned.



Frank Wilson
Director of Operations
Compliance Manager
Royal Range USA