The Legalities of Class III Firearms


There will be three copies of this form to fill out. Two will go to the ATF for approval and one is for your records. With the two copies that go to the ATF will be two fingerprint cards that the dealer will give you. If you are doing a transfer between individuals, you can apply to the ATF for all the forms necessary to do the transfer.

The fingerprint cards must be completed by the local sheriff’s office fingerprint section. Also on the form is a place for an ID photo. What they are looking for is the 2-inch x 2-inch size picture that is usually taken for passports and such. This must be firmly attached to the application in the appropriate place. I used spray adhesive with good results. Staples are out. It must be permanent.

Fill out the form completely leaving nothing blank. If it does not apply, put in N/A. This will show you looked at the question and it does not apply to you. Write everything out and don’t abbreviate. Write out the full name of your state.

The ATF has one way they want to see the form filled out and that is the way it needs to be done. This will speed things up and prevent it from getting kicked back. Follow the dealer’s instructions; he is well versed in what the ATF wants to see on the form.

The very first one of these I sent in many years ago took six weeks to get back. That was more than 20 years ago. This is not the case now. Three to five months is the normal wait now. The gun will stay in the possession of the dealer or the private owner until the paper comes through.

If you buy the gun from the dealer you will usually have to put the money up front for the gun until the paperwork comes through. Also, there is a $200 tax on the transfer. This will be sent into the ATF with the application. It is not a fee but a tax. The ATF will actually affix a $200 stamp to the finalized application.

The ATF writes the serial number across the stamp after it is issued so it can only be used for that gun and transfer. You must keep a copy of this form with the gun when transporting it anywhere. The pistol grip handles with a compartment door on the bottom is a good place to store a copy. The copy should always be with the gun and the original should be safe somewhere else.

Why own one of these things? I like them because they are the originals. Almost all the military-type semi-auto guns we enjoy started life as select-fire weapons and were modified for civilian use. I was trained in proper use of select-fire weapons in SWAT and if the need arose it would be a handy thing to have available. Whether the anti-gunners like it or not, we the people are the second line of defense.

With this war on terror that we are engaged in, and it is a war, who is going to protect the home front while our troops are extended all over the world? The police? I have all the respect in the world for what they do but they are not around when you need them and they might be the target of the attack.

The police are not equipped for this kind of call either and SWAT always takes a little time to mobilize. The anti’s argue that banning assault weapons will help keep our police safe. Police don’t need to fear legally armed American citizens and should feel some comfort knowing we are there quietly waiting to back them up if needed.

Gun Digest
This article appeared in the April 12, 2010 issue of Gun Digest the Magazine. Click here to learn more. Click here to load up on a subscription.

I guarantee if the Hollywood Shootout would have happened where I live there would have been some bigger guns on the scene much quicker.

The biggest reason I like select-fire guns is they are a hoot to fire. I don’t mean just spraying the hillside with bullets, although that’s fun too, but tactically controlling the weapon and putting three-shot bursts on center mass accurately and regularly.

Some of my interest for these guns is a left over from my training days, I guess; but I like to keep up the skills I learned. I live in a state, and there are many, where clubs put on machine gun shoots. These are fun to watch and even more fun to compete in. Some of these shoots involve exploding targets, which really add some excitement to the shooting.

Applying for a suppressor is much the same as transferring a machine gun though suppressors aren’t restricted by the May 1986 rule and can be made yesterday. They do require at least a Class II license to sell and also require a $200 tax stamp. As with the machine gun transfer, the dealer will greatly aid in filling out the forms.

Again, pictures and fingerprint cards will have to be sent in with two copies of the form. Legally registered suppressors can also be transferred between individuals after the necessary paperwork is approved.

Silencers have much greater sporting use than do machine guns. There are many no-ears shoots around the country that use suppressed firearms only. I have shot many of the suppressors and guns made by AWC and they make guns much more pleasant to shoot. Some of their suppressors actually have been shown to improve the performance of the weapon.

I tested one of their big .50 cal. suppressors and shot the gun with no ear protection and no blow back on my face. It made the gun more pleasant to shoot and no doubt improved my skills with it.

AWC also makes a suppressor for the .308 rifle, which would be an asset to any tactical unit by keeping muzzle flash and sound signature to minimum. For the civilian it would provide quieter shooting of the gun in practice session. Suppressed weapons for entry teams would make life a lot easier on the team’s ears when shooting inside buildings or cars. We practiced shooting from moving vehicles and pressure from the round, not to mention the noise, was tough to deal with. Suppressed fire would allow the operators to shoot and still hear their partners and the radio.

For personal use and home construction, the application is the same but construction cannot commence until the stamp and approved application is in hand. Suppressors are not that hard to build with some tools and ingenuity. There are some good books on the subject. Most of the better ones are made from machined baffles that contain and direct gasses and pressure around inside the tube until both dissipate. Every part of the suppressor is considered a suppressor by the law, even by itself. So do the paperwork and get a stamp before you start experimenting.

The majority of states allow possession of machine guns and suppressors and with a little effort you can join this community. Just make sure you do things to the letter of the law, and if you have questions… ask the ATF.



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