Full Auto, Suppressed, Short, AOW...?
This is NOT legal advice. If you mess around with National Firearms Act weapons and do something that you should not do, you will very likely go to prison. Seek competent legal advice.
What is the NFA? Back in 1934, Prohibition had ended. Several hundred federal "revenuer" agents were going to be fired because there were no longer any laws for them to enforce. Congress passed the National Firearms Act, supposedly to stop "gangster" violence... that had primarily come about from Prohibition... yeah, that's government logic for you.
They knew they couldn't ban guns because of that pesky 2nd Amendment to the Constitution. The plan was to take a bunch of "gangster" guns and make them available only with a tangle of red tape and an obscenely high tax. The original plan was to include pistols and revolvers, but they quickly figured out that that might start a revolution. Prior to the NFA, a person could mail order a Thompson submachinegun from Sears for $125. He could walk into the neighborhood hardware store and buy a suppressor for about $6. If he wanted to keep a Model 97 Winchester 12 gauge pump gun in his dresser drawer, he could cut the barrel off to 12 inches and cut the stock off to leave a pistol grip so it would fit. After NFA a person could still buy or make these things, but it was a lot more difficult and expensive. First, you had to find a licensed dealer. Next, complete the application that consists (now - I don't know about the 1934 version) of the signature of your local chief law enforcement officer (county sheriff, town police chief, etc.)-not permission, fingerprints, photographs, and an extensive background check. On top of all that, a $200 tax. Yep, a $200 tax on a $6 suppressor or a $15 shotgun.
Congress passed the law, and the revenuers became gun law enforcers. Prior to Dept. of Homeland Security, from 1934 until that time, the NFA was enforced as tax law, by tax agents.
NFA regulated machine guns or full automatic weapons, suppressors or silencers, short barrel shotguns (>18"), short barrel rifles (initially >18", currently >16") and "Any Other Weapons" which are palm pistols, disguised guns, cane guns, smoothbore revolvers, and other interesting styles. "Destructive Devices" such as rifles over .50 caliber, grenades, mortar rounds were added later. Recent additions to AOW include the leather wallet holster for the Beretta .25 auto pistol that screwed to the grip panel, and pistols with vertical foregrips.
From 1934 through the 70s, the NFA industry just kind of moseyed along, with a relatively small amount of people going through the process. When I was in high school, a person could buy a Thompson submachine gun for about $1,500. The early 80s saw a growth in full autos with a ton of new machine guns like the American 180 (a .22lr machine gun with a 177 round horizontal drum magazine on top) and readily available auto seers to convert your AR15 or 10/22 to select fire.
In 1986, the McClure-Volkmer Gun Owners Protection Act passed congress. This law cleaned up some problems with the Gun Control Act of 1968. A biggie was the elimination of a requirement that ammo sales had to be recorded in a book and ammo signed for. It also ensured that you could travel with your legally owned gun from one legal area to another legal area, even if you passed through an area where your gun was illegal. The problem was that the GOPA was attacked in the middle of the night at the last minute by the Hughes Amendment (look it up on YouTube - I get very angry watching the abuse that just a small handful of congressmen forced upon us with their illegal and immoral actions). Hughes essentially made it so that no new machineguns could be registered under NFA for civilian ownership. Between the passing of the bill and it being signed into law, the number of registered machineguns grew from about 100,000 (that is all that had been registered since 1934) to over 250,000 in just a couple of months. Manufacturers went to three shifts and hired more secretaries to get the paperwork processed in time. Since the number of civilian-legal machine guns was frozen at that time, their prices have skyrocketed. It is not uncommon for that $1,500 Thompson to sell for $25,000 now. A MAC-10 that sold new in 1985 for about $500 is now about $3,500. And not a lick of crime has been stopped by it.
As I type this, I think it is going into a multi-part series. I've pretty much covered the history. Tomorrow I'll discuss some more on the weapons, then next will be a look at how or if such weapons might play a role in your prepping battery.