What is a Title II or NFA firearm?
NFA/Title II firearms include: machine guns, short-barreled rifles and shotguns, silencers (suppressors), destructive devices (e.g. Molotov cocktails, bazookas, mortars, etc.), and “any other weapons (AOW).” AOWs include things such as cane guns, gadget-type firearms such as “pen guns,” etc.
The NFA/Title II umbrella also includes any parts designed for fabricating any of these weapons.
A little bit of background…
Back in the 1930s, criminals such as John Dillinger, Bonnie Parker, and Clyde Barrow were making headlines. And the organized crime gangsters, which were the natural result of Prohibition, were also a big political problem. So the federal government decided to attack the guns being used by these criminals. (Sound familiar?)
At that time, it was widely acknowledged that the Second Amendment wouldn’t allow the government to prohibit the ownership of firearms, so the politicians decided to tax certain weapons out of existence instead.
The gangsters who made the news loved their Tommy guns and sawed-off shotguns, so The National Firearms Act of 1934 (NFA) imposed a registration process and a $200 transfer tax (about $3500 today) on the purchase or transfer of machine guns, sawed-off shotguns and rifles (technically, short-barreled shotguns and rifles), and silencers (suppressors). The expensive tax effectively took such weapons out of the hands of most law-abiding citizens.
Prohibition ended and gangsters were no longer in the headlines. The Supreme Court struck down the NFA’s registration process and, over time, public support for the law waned.
But the assassinations of the Kennedys and Dr. King in the 1960s made guns a political punching bag once again.
In 1968, the Gun Control Act (GCA) was passed. It did many things, but primarily brought all firearms regulation under the ever-expanding “interstate commerce” clause of the U.S. Constitution. It also banned the importation of military surplus weapons unless they met the now infamous “sporting purposes” requirement.
Title II of the GCA strengthened the old NFA law by resurrecting the registration requirement and adding destructive devices and AOWs to the list of regulated items. However, the $200 transfer tax was not changed or linked to inflation. Interestingly, the transfer tax on AOWs was set at only $5, not $200.
NFA/Title II firearms are sometimes also referred to as Class 3 weapons. All gun dealers must obtain a federal firearms license (FFL). A gun dealer who wants to offer NFA firearms must also pay a Special Occupational Tax (SOT). The amount of the tax depends on the business classification: an importer of NFA firearms is Class 1, a manufacturer of NFA firearms is Class 2, and a dealer of NFA firearms is Class 3. Since many people buy their NFA/Title II weapons from a “Class 3” dealer, such weapons have become colloquially known as Class 3 weapons.
So, NFA/Title II firearms such as machine guns, silencers, and short-barreled rifles (SBRs) are legal on the federal level, but you have to jump through some hoops to purchase or manufacture them. Additionally, some states may ban some or all NFA weapons.
However, at this time, no NFA weapons are banned in Florida.