Q&A – Are Fully Automatic Guns Legal In Florida?

Today’s entry: Full auto firearms are federally legal. You need a $200 federal tax stamp, they then do a deeper background search. This is the same as when you buy a suppressor. Florida is one of a handful of states that allows its citizens to buy full auto firearms, conforming to the federal guidelines. You used to be able to order a full auto tommy gun from the Sears catalog and have it delivered directly to your house. No checks, nothing.

Bottom Line: This note is response to my top takeaways from yesterday in which I said the following: Why is it that fully automatic guns were legally sold in the United States through the mid-80's and yet we didn’t have the proliferation of murderous attacks on innocent people the likes of which we’ve sadly witnessed for the past 22 years? To be clear that’s a true and correct statement. And your note is as well with a major caveat. The 1986 Firearm Owners Protection Act. Among several reforms passed with the Act was a ban on the production and sale of automatic firearms. Along with the ban, and the collective bi-partisan determination of this Reagan-era law that rather than attempting to confiscate outstanding automatic weapons, there was a mandate for all outstanding automatic guns to be registered. That’s where what you’ve stated comes into play.

While no automatic firearms have been legally manufactured and sold since 1986, the existing registered automatic firearms can be resold through an extensive process. That process includes an FBI reviewed background check complete with fingerprints and photographs. You must pay a transfer tax and a transaction fee of $200 – as you cited. The entire process averages ten months to complete and can take up to a year. And again, the only guns which may be purchased through this process are those manufactured prior to the 1986 law. As a result, there’s an ever-dropping supply of these guns available which has also driven the prices extremely high, that includes the cost of ammunition available for these guns as well, which averages a few dollars per round. The existing owners are largely well to do hobbyists. There are now fewer than 630,000 of these guns left in the program.

Regarding Florida, you’re correct, our state’s law does allow for the ownership under these federal standards but again, the process, the scrutiny, the registration, the personal documentation required, etc., doesn’t resemble that of semi-automatic firearms. It is worth noting that under this process, there’s never been a murder committed with an automatic gun.

Each day I feature a listener question sent by one of these methods.


Parler & Twitter:@brianmuddradio

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