Yesterday, a tweet by NBC Universal anchor, Carl Quintanilla caught the eye of the very popular conservative Twitter user, and actor James Woods. After Walmart made the controversial decision to cave to high school activists and left-leaning websites on gun-control, social media users responded, by either applauding their decision or saying they’d never step food in another Walmart store. Many on the left, including NBC anchor Carl Quintanilla, came to Walmart’s defense. The problem is, many of those who came to Walmart’s defense, including those who report the “news” for a living, didn’t have their facts straight.
James Woods to the rescue…
Here’s NBC Universal anchor Carl Quintanilla’s tweet: “In addition to raising its minimum age for gun buyers,
@Walmart wants you to know it stopped selling AR-15s and automatic rifles in 2015.”
— Carl Quintanilla (@carlquintanilla) February 28, 2018
James Woods responded to Quintanilla’s irresponsible tweet: “Carl, “automatic rifles” are machine guns. They’ve been illegal for decades. Walmart has never sold one – not one – ever. Be a journalist and try to get the simplest facts correct, please.”
Carl, “automatic rifles” are machine guns. They’ve been illegal for decades. Walmart has never sold one – not one – ever. Be a journalist and try to get the simplest facts correct, please. https://t.co/qYt9p7Oi7D
— James Woods (@RealJamesWoods) March 1, 2018
NBC Universal anchor, Carl Quintanilla isn’t the first person with a massive number of Twitter followers to make up his own “facts” about guns. Last October, following the Las Vegas massacre, Bravo host Andy Cohen, who has 2.26 million followers, asked: “How about we ban machine guns?” 23,000 uneducated Twitter users “liked” his comment.
How about we ban machine guns?
— Andy Cohen (@Andy) October 2, 2017
Terry Moran, Chief Foreign Correspondent for ABC News, with 1.16 million followers tweeted: “Under Nevada gun laws, according to the NRA, owning a machine gun is legal.”
Under Nevada gun laws, according to the NRA, owning a machine gun is legal. pic.twitter.com/dHPI6hdTMZ
— Terry Moran (@TerryMoran) October 2, 2017
Sean Davis of The Federalist points out that neither of these tweets is accurate or factual.
Davis writes: Federal law highly regulates the manufacture, sale, and ownership of fully automatic weapons in the United States. For those unfamiliar with firearms nomenclature, a fully automatic weapon is one that is capable of firing multiple rounds with only one pull of the trigger; a semi-automatic weapon will fire only one round per trigger pull while preparing the gun to fire another round when the trigger is pulled again. The main federal law governing fully automatic weapons is called the National Firearms Act, or NFA. First enacted in 1934, this federal law regulates fully automatic weapons, suppressors, short-barreled rifles and shotguns, and destructive devices such as bombs or grenades. The NFA was subsequently modified in 1968 by the Gun Control Act and in 1986 by the Firearm Owners Protection Act.
Items included in the NFA are referred to colloquially as “NFA items,” and are highly regulated. A special license from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) is required to manufacture, sell, and own any of these items, without exception. Whereas regular gun manufacturers and dealers must obtain a Federal Firearms License, or FFL, to legally make and sell non-NFA firearms, entities who wish to make or sell NFA items must obtain an additional license on top of the FFL. These dealers are referred to as FFL/SOT (special occupational tax) or Class 3 FFL dealers. It is a lengthy and burdensome process that requires extensive investigation by ATF.
Under the NFA, it is illegal for any private civilian to own any fully automatic weapons manufactured after May 19, 1986. Only certain types of FFL/SOTs may make them, and then only for purchase by qualified state and federal agencies. There are no exceptions. According to the ATF’s official handbook on NFA laws and regulations, it’s not even legal to make new replacement parts for pre-1986 machine guns: “There is no exception allowing for the lawful production, transfer, possession, or use of a post-May 18, 1986 machinegun receiver as a replacement receiver on a weapon produced prior to May 19, 1986.”
So what about pre-1986 machine guns? Are civilians permitted to own those? Yes, with a host of exceptions. The pre-1986 machine guns may be sold only by an FFL/SOT and must be registered with the ATF. Easy peasy, right? Not really. The process of registering an NFA item with the ATF is costly, invasive, and time-consuming. Federal law requires extensive background checks of anyone wishing to own an NFA item such as a machine gun. If you wanted to purchase a machine gun today, it would take close to a year, and you would be required to submit fingerprints and a photo to accompany your background check. Each NFA item also requires its own tax stamp, which costs $200. Once the ATF decides that an individual is permitted by law to own an NFA item, it adds that individual’s name, address, and biographical information to a federal gun registry and matches it to the serial number of the licensed NFA item. This goes for every item listed in the NFA, not just machine guns. Individuals with NFA items are then required to notify the ATF when they move and anytime they plan to travel outside their state of residence with the NFA item.
And that’s just the federal registration process. We haven’t even discussed the cost of purchasing a legal machine gun. If you can find a legal, ATF-stamped, pre-1986 machine gun for less than $10,000, then you’re a miracle worker. A legal NFA sear — the machined part of the trigger group that makes a firearm capable of fully automatic firing — can cost anywhere from $15,000 to $50,000. And lest you think that any random yokel can just head into the garage and cobble together functional full auto sear, think again. While it is indeed possible, the tools and know-how required to precisely mill the sear, not to mention the myriad other necessary modifications, are in relatively short supply.