Would a gun-friendly President address the wishes of American gun owners and push to repeal the NFA (National Firearms Act)? That’s what some are asking with a recent ‘We The People’ White House petition.
The National Firearms Act was originally enacted in 1934 to combat the increase in gangland violence during the Prohibition era. The law regulated many types of firearms, such as automatic weapons, short-barreled rifles, short barreled shotguns, and destructive devices (cannons, flamethrowers, grenades, and other explosives). The NFA also regulated suppressors (often called silencers) and the vague category of “any other weapon” which includes all sorts of concealable single-shot weapons (pen guns or briefcase guns), AR-style pistols with a vertical foregrip, combination (rifle and shotgun) long guns that are less that 18″ in length, and other types of firearms.
The NFA sets the rules for selling, obtaining, and owning regulated items. All regulated items must be registered with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). In order for a private individual to purchase an NFA item, they must complete ATF Form 4 to obtain permission to purchase and own the item. Form 4 requires a complete background check, finger printing, and current photograph of the purchaser. The Form also needs to be filed with the chief law enforcement officer as a double check. Finally, the purchaser must pay an excise tax for the item; the tax is $200 for most items except those falling under the “Any Other Weapon” category, where the tax stamp only costs $5. Once the purchaser has taken possession of the NFA item, they must be able to provide proof of registration, and must also file for written permission from the ATF to move the NFA item across state lines permanently.
Because of these many restrictions and additional cost, many gun owners would be glad to see the repeal of the NFA.
We The People was started in 2011 under the former administration as an avenue for Americans to petition the executive branch. Under the website’s rules, a petition must gather 150 signatures within its first 30 days to be searchable on the site, and if it reaches 100,000 signatures within 30 days, the White House will give an official response. Over the course of the Obama Administration, hundreds of petitions reached the threshold and received a response from the Obama Administration.
It is unclear, however, if the newly-inaugurated President Trump’s White House will actively use the website. As it was just a public relations tool for the Obama Administration, there is no law mandating that White House respond to petitions that have met the threshold since the new administration has taken office. But for now, we can all sign the petition and hope President Trump’s administration gives us a response, preferably a response with some real action!