As you begin researching how to obtain your Federal Firearms License (FFL), you’ll likely encounter many confusing definitions, acronyms and just plain dense legalese. However, don’t let this deter you. It may initially seem an overwhelming task to get your FFL but it’s not. Familiarizing yourself with the terminology and rationale behind them will make the process much more accessible. To begin with, you should know about the National Firearms act (NFA) and the types of weapons covered by it.
The NFA is a law enacted in 1934 which calls for the mandatory registration of all Title II weapons. In addition, it requires that an excise tax be paid on the manufacture and sale or transfer of such weapons and that any transfer across state lines be reported to the Department of Justice.
Okay, the NFA regulates Title II weapons, but what are Title II weapons? Weapons are divided by the government into Title I and Title II. Title I includes rifles, shotguns and handguns while Title II includes machine guns, silencers, short barreled shotguns, short barreled rifles and any other weapon (AOW). Title II weapons have often been called class 3 weapons. However, there is no such thing as class 3 weapons but there is a class 3 SOT which is a special class of license that is required in order to become a dealer of NFA firearms.
Let’s talk in more detail about Title II weapons.
1. Machine gun: Any gun that can discharge more than one cartridge from a single trigger pull. The parts that make a machine gun are also included under this heading.
2. Short barreled shotgun (SBS): Any smooth bore shotgun with a barrel length of less than 18” or an overall length of less than 26”.
3. Short barreled rifle (SBR): Any rifled bore firearm with an overall length of less than 26” or an overall length of less than 16”.
4. Silencer: Any devices or parts that are designed to silence, muffle or disguise the sound of a portable firearm.
5. Destructive Device (DD): Two separate categories are contained within this class. The first includes grenades or explosive devices, poison gas weapons, or bombs and incendiary devices. The second includes large bore, non-sporting firearms, which are anything that’s not used for sporting with a bore over ½”.
6. Any other weapons (AOW): Any weapons and parts that do not fit into the other categories including shoulder fired weapons with a barrel length between 12 and 18” with either a smooth or rifled bore, smooth bore pistols, cane guns and pen guns.
Hopefully this helps clarify some of the distinctions, but if you’re still in doubt or require more specific information, contact the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives technology branch which can answer your specific questions
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