Can You Own a Machine Gun, Silencer, or other Class 3 Weapon?

The answer depends on several factors.  The state in which you must reside (see below) must allow for the possession of the weapon(s).  Machine guns, suppressors (silencers), short-barreled shotguns, short-barreled rifles, and any other weapons (AOWs) [e.g., flashlight guns, pistol grip short-barreled Mossberg-type weapons] are classified by the National Firearms Act (NFA) of 1934 as Title II weapons.  The NFA is Title II of the Gun Control Act of 1968.  Title I weapons are handguns, rifles, etc.

Federal law also provides for an individual to own a Title II NFA weapon.  Individuals (Non-FFL holders) may purchase and own machineguns that were made and registered before May 1986.  Such machine guns are classified as "Transferable".   Suppressors, Short-Barreled Rifles, Short-Barreled Shotguns, and AOWs are still manufactured.  Non-FFL holders may only purchase an NFA weapon from a dealer or individual within their own state (same as buying a handgun). If the weapon is located out of state it must be transferred to a class 3 dealer within the state, before transfer to the non FFL purchaser.

Generally, you must meet the following FEDERAL requirements to own a Title II NFA weapon:

  • Be a US Citizen at least 21 years of age

  • Be of a sound mind

  • Not a person prohibited from receiving a Title I firearm

  • Never convicted of a felony

  • Pay a one-time Federal Transfer Tax on each weapon purchased ( $200.00 for machine guns, suppressors, $5 for AOWs)

  • Complete BATF Form 4 in duplicate, which includes:

    1. Obtaining the signature of the "Chief Law Enforcement Officer" (CLEO) in your area signifying that he has no knowledge that you will use your weapon for anything other than lawful purposes, and provide a reason for the "reasonable necessity" to possess the weapon described

    2. Provide two (2) sets of fingerprints

    3. Provide two 2"x2" recent photographs

NOTE:  Items 1 through 3 above are not required for corporate ownership of NFA weapons, reducing approval time significantly.

If you have your own corporation or are an officer in a corporation, the corporation can acquire these weapons and you, as a corporate officer, may be able to possess the item(s), take them to the range shooting, etc. just as if they were registered to you, provided you are acting within the confines of the corporation.

It should be noted that in states where it is ILLEGAL for an individual to own, carry, transport, or be in possession of a machinegun or any other NFA weapon, corporate ownership is NOT a viable option.  If the corporation dissolves, the item must be transferred to another individual, corporation, or dealer.  If in doubt, check with your local Class III dealer.

After approximately 90 days, during which time the FBI performs a criminal background check, you will receive your Form 4 from BATF.  Only after the transfer is approved can you take possession of your item.

Machineguns are ILLEGAL for individuals in DE, DC, HI, NY, WA
Class 3 dealers are allowed possession in CA, IL, IO, KS, MI, NJ, RI

Silencers are ILLEGAL for individuals in DE, DC, HI, IL, MS, MT, NY, NJ, RI
Class 3 dealers are allowed possession in : CA, KS, MO, MN

For additional information on ownership and law regarding NFA weapons, please email or refer to James Bardwell's site (including the Appendix at the bottom of the screen) at: