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Posted: 6/3/2006 5:04:30 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 8/13/2014 3:08:31 PM EDT by tony_k]
Courtesy of drfcolt

Q: Do I need a license to buy a machine gun?
A: No, you don't need a license. If you are permitted by law to own a handgun and your state allows the transfer of machine guns, you can buy one.

Q: Where do I get a permit for a machine gun?
A: You don' t need a permit, either. You do need to complete an "Application For Tax Paid Transfer and Registration of Firearm", also known as a Form 4, and this must be signed by the Chief Law Enforcement Officer (CLEO) in your locale. You also need to submit, in duplicate, a complete set of fingerprints and passport-size photos, plus a signed Certificate of Compliance, Form 5330.20, regarding your citizenship. The BATF then sends your fingerprints to the FBI for a background check while the BATF checks out the legality of the item being transferred. If all goes well, in about 90-120 days, the BATF sends the approved Form 4 back to your dealer and you can go pick up the Form 4 and your new toy. The item is now registered with the BATF in your name and the Form 4 is your only proof of this, so a copy should be with the NFA item at all times. Think of it sort of like a car title. The item was transferred to you and when you sell it, you transfer it to the new owner.

Q: What is the charge for this transfer?
A: When your application to Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms is submitted there is a $200 transfer tax to be paid for machine guns and silencers and a $5.00 transfer tax for AOW.

Q: I want one - is my state a "machine gun state"?
A: Click here to check out regs in your state:

Q: How do I make a semi auto gun into a machine gun?
A: Generally, you don't, unless you want to spend the next 10 years in prison and pay a $250K fine. No new machine guns can be made, as per the 1986 ban. We have to keep trading the ones already out there. But with certain platforms (M16/HK/and others), there are registered conversion devices (that themselves are considered MGs and were also registered with the BATF before the 1986 ban) that you can "put in" a semi-auto weapon to make it into a MG. These conversion devices are in the $8K-and-up range and going up at the same rate as registered-receivers (semi-auto's converted to MGs and registered with the BATF before the 1986 ban) and domestic factory MGs that were legally registered with the BATF before the 1986 ban and foreign made MGs that were registered with the BATF before the 1968 ban.

Q: OK, I'm gonna do this. Where do I get the forms?
A: You can have BATF mail them to you. Here's a link to their online form-ordering page:

Or you can download them directly here: Important: If you print out your own forms, they must be printed on both sides of a single sheet of paper, or BATFE will reject them.

NFA at age 18

Federal law does not impose a 21-year-old age restriction on the possession of NFA firearms. The age restriction concerns transfers and applies only when a person buys NFA from a licensee. At 18 years old (provided state and local law do not impose added restrictions), federal law allows a person (using an individual, trust, or corp route) to 1) make NFA items via Form 1. 2) buy NFA items via Form 4 FROM A PRIVATE UNLICENSED CITIZEN of his or her state.

The ONLY thing an 18-year-old cannot do is purchase NFA from dealers or other FFL-licensed individuals.

The letter from BATFE on this subject:


If other family members also enjoy shooting, consider setting up a family corporation, in which you are both officers. Then the corp can legally purchase the machine gun, and the corp's board of directors can pass a resolution authorizing any corp officers to possess the MG. That way, you avoid the problems of it ever being in her possession without you around. (With individual ownership, it's technically illegal for her to even have the combination or key to a safe in which it is stored. No one but the owner must ever have access to it).

Incorporating also does away with the CLEO signoff, fingerprints, photos, etc. You just find what you want, buy it, and send in the Form 4 application along with $200 and a copy of your articles of incorporation. Then wait for approval –– which comes quicker, because you don't have to wait for the FBI to run your fingerprints (a large part of the delay).

Regarding a permit: in some states you do need a permit, specifically in NC, you need a Sheriff's permit in addition to getting all the ATF paperwork filed out and signed.

You have no fewer rights having a machine gun than any other firearm, just a lot more responsibilities to keep legal. You have a severely restricted item, which cannot be lent to anyone, nor sold or even transported across State lines (with few exceptions) without prior Federal approval or notification.

The Feds cannot make an inspection of your home without a search warrant just because you are a lawful MG owner.

The hardest part of the NFA transfer process is getting your CLEO signature. If he won't sign, BATF has a list of other acceptable signers, such as district attorneys and certain judges. But if you can't get anyone on the list to sign, your only alternative is the corporate route.

Unfortunately, many CLEOs and other approved officials won't sign, often because they are misinformed as to what they are signing, or for political reasons. Some only sign for friends or for political favors. Unfortunately this is not illegal, it just shows how much this requirement is abused. So, if you are not initially going the corporate route, check on the status of your CLEO signature status as your first step.


If you want to learn more about the laws governing NFA items, check out James Bardwell's NFA FAQ:


The NFA Branch’s address in Martinsburg, W.Va. for all correspondence EXCEPT Form 4's is:

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
National Firearms Act Branch
244 Needy Road
Martinsburg, West Virginia 25405

Important note: Form 4 applications must be sent to the BATF/Atlanta at the following address:

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
National Firearms Act Branch
P.O. Box 530298
Atlanta, GA 30353-0298

The Atlanta facility forwards the Form 4s to W.Va. for processing after the $200 transfer fee is deposited.

All other correspondence and phone contact should be made directly with the W. Va. branch.

BATFE/W.Va. phone numbers:
(304) 616-4500
(304) 616-4501 (fax)

NFA Branch personnel assigned to Martinsburg, who may be reached at the above numbers, include:

Branch Chief
William J Boyle III

Andrew Ashton
Jon Coleman
Janice Fields
Rob Howard
Sara Jones
Kenneth Mason
Scott Robertson
Amy Stely (SOT specialist)

Section Chief (Examiner Supervisors)
Ted Clutter
Kim Ramsburg

Jason Bowers
Robin Chesek
Jason Dicken
Nicole Dudash
Christina Farris
Elizabeth Feltner
Lucie Fishel
Jason Frushour
Jillian Grove
Jesse Huff
Albert Lamberger
Nicole Lee
Joyce Leonard
Angela Longerbeam
Ashley Newcome
Daniel Parasky
Carol Ripley
Shannon Siviero
Sandra Snook
Heather Thompson
China Watkins
Terry Whittington
Diane Wood


Customer Service contractors (answer the main NFA number)
Mary Garrott
Linda Guy
Damon Wright
Vickie McElhaney

The only NFA Branch personnel continuing to work at ATF Headquarters in Washington, DC, is Program Manager Gary Schaible, who may be reached at (202) 927-8330. Please do not contact the D.C. Headquarters number for personnel assigned to Martinsburg.
This is Tony K, and I approved this message.