The National Firearms Act, or NFA, was passed in 1934 and restricted things like short-barreled rifles and machine guns.
It didn’t ban anything, though. That came later.
But it did throw a tax on the purchase of any of these kinds of firearms as well as suppressors, which are considered a safety device in some parts of Europe.
Regardless, it seems that an op-ed writer has decided to opine on the topic of AR-15s.
What do AR-15s have to do with the NFA? Nothing, right now, but if this writer gets his way, we’d all have to jump through those hoops just to buy an AR-15.
In the 1930s, when America became disgusted with mass shootings by criminals using fully automatic weapons like Thompson submachine guns – Tommy guns, the kind that spray multiple bullets with a single pull of the trigger – Congress acted swiftly and decisively.
It didn’t ban the weapons outright but instead severely restricted their sale, ownership, use and transport. It imposed a $200 tax – about $4,500 in today’s dollars – for the purchase of a machine gun and imposed a heavy fine and jail time of up to 10 years for any thug caught with one that was unregistered.
It was, in everything but the name, a ban. And it was spectacularly effective in reducing gun violence. In the 89 years since the passage of the National Firearms Act of 1934, there have been only four confirmed instances of legally owned machine guns used in crimes where someone was killed. And they’ve never been used in a mass killing. Compare that to the long list of mass shootings in just the past decade that killed dozens of people in which the common denominator was a semi-automatic assault-style weapon – Orlando, Parkland, Sandy Hook, Aurora, Buffalo, Uvalde and now in my home state of Maine.
Politicians and gun rights advocates who offer prayer as the only solution to today’s gun violence, and claim that gun control doesn’t work, have forgotten their history. It worked in the 1930s and it can work today.
It actually wasn’t effective.
The criminals who have murdered people with machine guns didn’t jump through the NFA hoops. Those who will go through the steps required to get an actual machine gun were never the kind who would use it to commit murder, but criminals will.
Yet when you cherry-pick your data, you can make it look like the law really made an impact when it didn’t.
Further, the NFA did nothing to reduce the homicide rate in the 1930s in general. That didn’t happen until the repeal of Prohibition, when the mob lost a lot of the incentive to fight for physical territory.
So it didn’t actually work in the 1930s.
But then again, the author of this also wrote this:
Congress took swift action in the 1930s because Tommy Guns were a clear and present danger. They were cheap, light, powerful and easily concealable, the same characteristics that define today’s assault-style weapons.
Now, I just quoted that part of the paragraph because I wanted to illustrate that this guy who likes to present this nonsense from a position of authority doesn’t actually know what he’s talking about.
First, the Thompson fires .45 ACP rounds, which are pistol rounds. It may fire a lot of them, but it’s still a pistol round. That’s not powerful by any stretch of the imagination. Further, the Thompson weighs over 10 pounds. The 1903 Springfield weighed about two pounds less, and it was the main rifle for the US Army up until 1936.
Meanwhile, the standard AR-15 is anything but easily concealable. It’s a freaking rifle, for crying out loud. You’re not strapping one one under your t-shirt. If you could, I know a lot of people who would do just that. Only, you can’t.
That’s why the NFA restricted short-barreled rifles separately from machine guns.
Further, what makes this guy think that we’d roll over for listing so-called assault weapons as NFA items when we won’t roll over for a ban. He even argues that the NFA was a ban in all but name and yet, he thinks we’ll still just take it?
The author here keeps saying stuff authoritatively and yet clearly knows almost nothing. Moreover, he’s not an unbiased observer. He’s a political hack.
Here’s his bio:
Dennis Bailey is a Maine native and former reporter at the Portland Press Herald who served as communications director for Gov. Angus King (now U.S. Sen. Angus King). Bailey now lives in Portugal, a country with sensible gun laws and no mass killings.
On the flip side, I’m sure these guys will be glad there are no mass killings in Portugal.