Why The Machinegun Ban Will Not Go Away UPDATED

    UPDATE:  Please read our response to your comments: Mea culpa: Steve and Alex reply to your comments on our Machine Gun Lawsuit post.

    Machineguns are legal to own and shoot in the USA. In fact, they have never been illegal however machineguns made after 1986 can only be owned by dealers and government agencies.

    I have been blogging about individuals trying to overturn this ban via litigation, such as Hollis Vs. Holder where the ATF, by accident, approved the construction of a new machinegun.

    An additional lawsuit, Watson Vs. Holder is also now on the table. So what does this mean? Cheap, new machineguns for all?

    No. No it won’t but the attorneys will benefit greatly from donations and legal fees.

    Let me preface this by saying I would like to see the ban lifted. I love machineguns. I collect them, shoot them, and enjoy studying the technology that makes them possible. Hell, I have quite a few of them laying around. I would love for other people to join me in my conquest to become a machinegun enthusiast, but the high price of admission is off-putting to many.

    The 1986 ban was passed by an unrecorded and controversial voice vote and added to the 1986 Firearm Owners Protection Act, a bill that was intended to be pro-gun and prevent the government from keeping a registry of gun owners. Few people know about this, and the ones that do know do not like to discuss it, but the NRA championed this bill with the machinegun ban in it and encouraged Reagan to sign it into law. There is an old joke among NFA people that “stamp collecting” (that is, the acquisition of class III items) is the easiest way to get the NRA to throw you under the bus.

    The NRA-ILA has not enthusiastically acknowledged support of trying to repeal the ban and that the good in the FOPA outweighed the bad. In fact, this gentleman declared that the NRA said exactly that in a letter to him in August of 1986. As far as the new production of machineguns goes for the public, I believe this is the fettered pipe dream of a few idealists; I don’t think the American public would tolerate new production of machine guns. If you were to survey a smattering of commonfolk asking if fully automatic firearms should be legal over the counter, they would overwhelmingly say no. These people outnumber us greatly. You will never ever get the vast army of centrist voters to vote for new manufacture of MGs and no politician will throw their promising career away trying to get soccer moms to fall in love with the idea of hobbyists buying new M16s for $900 each. Right now, an M16 costs $25,000. That’s probably the only reason they are still legal to own. Back when MGs were cheap, they flew under the radar, nobody knew about them.

    On a side note, many say “MGs aren’t an investment. Don’t put a lot of money into them.”
    Well, this is absolute unfettered BS. My machineguns have appreciated faster than any of my other investments by a large margin. Some people see guns as tools, and some see them as collectibles. I am somewhere in the middle.

    As I mentioned above, be weary of the attourneys championing these lawsuits. A look into the background of one reveals he’s not so squeaky clean. This gentleman deliberately caused a ruckus against a small town mayor a few years ago….for carrying a concealed weapon (anti-second amendment). Then the kid (a law student at the time) got his 15 minutes of fame. Here’s an interview in a magazine with him, and after reading it I wouldn’t send him a cent.

    In short, if you want a fully automatic firearm legally in the USA you are going to have to pay to play ball. Sorry, but I am just not optimistic about the opening of the registry.

    UPDATE:  Please read our response to your comments: Mea culpa: Steve and Alex reply to your comments on our Machine Gun Lawsuit post

    Alex C.

    Alex is a Senior Writer for The Firearm Blog and Director of TFBTV.