Tyranny by decree


The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is about to ban the most popular method used by civilians to legally purchase Title II firearms.

by Lee Williams

The federal government is about to infringe upon the rights of millions of Americans who choose to collect, recreate or defend themselves with Title II firearms.

The move comes not after hearings and debate in Congress. It is not the result of a bill passed by a majority of lawmakers and sent to the President’s desk for a signature.

Staff photo/ Lee Williams

Staff photo/ Lee Williams

The decision is the result of an executive order handed off to the ATF, who will use their rule-making authority to further restrict what are already the most-restricted firearms and accessories in the country.

Title II firearms, often referred to as NFA or Class III guns, consist of short-barrel rifles, short-barrel shotguns, suppressors, fully-automatic firearms and more.

They are legal to own in more than three-dozen states, and are surging in popularity – especially suppressors – for a host of reasons.

Several states now allow suppressors to be used for hunting – which have proven very effective in stopping the damage and disease spread by feral hogs.

Investment-grade machine guns continue to out perform stocks or bonds. They are recession-proof investments that have never depreciated. An M-16 sold for $12,000 five years ago is worth $25,000 today. The market is capped on these firearms by federal law. Of the 200,000 available for civilian ownership, less than 10 have ever been used in the commission of a crime.

In my opinion – in the hands of a trained shooter – a short-barrel rifle is far better for home defense than any shotgun.

There have always been two ways for a civilian to legally purchase Title II firearms. The traditional method involves submitting an ATF Form 4, which requires the approval and signature of a chief law enforcement officer, or CLEO. However, many CLEOs have proven reluctant to approve a Title II transfer.

Nowadays, the most popular method of obtaining Title II firearms is by establishing an NFA Trust – a legal document prepared by an attorney.

The main benefit of an NFA trust is that the gun owner does not need a signature from a CLEO –  usually a sheriff of chief of police – before they purchase a Title II weapon or accessory.

The process is simple: after the trust is established by an attorney, the gun owner mails copies to the ATF, along with a Form 4 – without the CLEO’s signature – and a check made out to the ATF for $200.

Once the trust is accepted by the ATF, the applicant can purchase Title II firearms from a licensed dealer.

Anyone not qualified to own a standard firearm would be barred from creating a trust: those currently under indictment, convicted felons, fugitives, drug users or those adjudicated as “mentally defective.”

Now, however, the ATF wants to change the rules, requiring a CLEO’s signature on every NFA trust. This would create a de facto ban on NFA trusts, since many CLEOs steadfastly refuse to approve these transfers.

What can you do?

Click here to tell the ATF what you think of their proposed rule changes.

Our good friends at Florida Carry have some suggestions and instructions on how to fine-tune your comments, which you can access here.

You only have five days to act.

Public comments end December 9.


About Author

Lee Williams can’t remember a time in his life when he wasn’t shooting. Before becoming a journalist, Lee served in the Army and worked as a police officer. He’s earned more than a dozen journalism awards as a reporter, and three medals of valor as a cop. He is an NRA-certified law enforcement firearms instructor, an avid tactical shooter and a training junkie. When he’s not busy as a senior investigative reporter, he is usually shooting his AKs, XDs and CZs. If you don’t run into him at a local gun range, you can reach him at 941.284.8553, by email, or by regular mail to 1777 Main St., Sarasota, FL 34236. You can follow him on Twitter: @HT_GunWriter and on Facebook @The Gun Writer.


  1. Pingback: Tyranny by decree | The Gun Feed

  2. Pingback: Lee Williams: 'Tyranny by decree' - Liberty Crier

Leave A Reply