Sunday, February 05, 2017

Review: 1934 National Firearms Act, Original Bill and Hearings

This ebook is the entirety of the National Firearms Act and Hearings, in a digitized 166 pages, from the House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee, starting on Monday, 16 April, 1934. It is available from Google at no charge as an ebook.

The Hearings of the National Firearms Act of 1934 provide an immensely valuable resource in understanding the intentions of the law.  It provides a good look at how the intricacies and provisions of the first really significant Federal Firearms law concerning individuals, came to be.

The book is the official record of the hearings in the House Ways and Means Committee and of testimony given in two periods.   First April 16 and 18, 1934, then from May 14 to May 16, 1934.

The most important thing to be noted is that the law was first concerned with the effective registration and regulation of civilian ownership of pistols and revolvers. Machine guns, sawed off shotguns, and gun mufflers/silencers were of relatively less concern, in that order.

There was near unanimous belief that machine guns could be taxed so as to make them virtually unavailable to the common man. That was already the case because of the price. At the time, the only available sub machine gun was the Thompson.  The retail price was $200, and they were not selling strongly.  There was only slight mention of other machine guns.

There was somewhat less agreement on sawed off shotguns. Sawed off rifles were added almost as an afterthought.

The hearings never touched on gun mufflers/silencers at all; no reason was given for their regulation. Machine guns were a concern, but they were few in number. The proponents mentioned they were being manufactured illegally by bootleggers.

It is clearly stated in the hearings, that making the law a "tax" was to avoid the potential violation of the Second Amendment. The Second Amendment had not yet been tested in the Supreme Court. The consensus was that States were not restricted by the Second Amendment.

The hearings give an excellent view of the maneuvering of the NRA. Caught somewhat off guard, they rallied and had significant impact.  The reality is considerably different from various rumors you may have heard over the last several decades.

It was the lobbying of gun owners around the nation, lead by the NRA, that killed the inclusion of pistols and revolvers in the bill. Registration of pistols and revolvers, at no fee, was offered.  That option was also killed. The proponents could not give an adequate answer as to why registration was needed.

If a student of gun legislation wishes to understand the history and the antecedents of current legislation, here is an excellent place to start. Nearly all the same arguments used today were presented in 1934.

For example, semi-automatics that could hold 12 or more rounds were initially defined as machine guns.  Changing that definition to the current one, where the requirement is that more than one shot results per pull of the trigger, was one of the first NRA successes.

The ignorance of the people proposing the legislation is obvious.  It is eerily reminiscent of the ignorance seen in the current debate.  Most arguments were based on anecdotal evidence.

Today, there is the advantage of much more data and analysis. The arguments are essentially the same.

I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in firearms and legislation. It gives important insights into the current debate.

 ©2017 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.

Gun Watch


Anonymous said...

The problem is not the wording of the act the problem is the wording of the second amendment. Shall Not Be Infringed, None of the Bill of rights can be infringed. You can not be taxed to exercise a right. The 200 dollar automatic weapons stamp/permit is clearly a tax. eliminating the stamp does not change the effect. the right of the citizens is important. to keep and bear arms is the right of all citizens which is also important because it does not say non citizens, illegals and green card holders. If you want all the rights of the Bill of Rights you become a legal citizen. a sawed of pump shotgun or a Thompson were often used to rob banks because they were short enough to carry concealed. 1934 was shortly after the roaring 1920s and as you point out bootleggers used them universally, even federal agents preferred them. Repeating rifles and shotguns were owned by many. My Rossi 357 lever action holds 10 357 or 12 38s. I can easily carry several hundred rounds for reloading when I carry my Ruger single six 357 and my Rossi 357. I can load 357 power into my 38s. I have 11 30 carbine 30 round mags 8 15 round mags and 2 5 round mags for the 30 carbine and can easily carry a couple of hundred rounds for reloading the mags. all illegal in California. My 12 inch bowie knife is illegal in California and California is just two miles across the river. I cant carry when I go to town for groceries or pay bills.

The wording in the united states constitution is very clear. the wording in the tenth amendment is very clear. to be required to have a permit to exercise a right is very clear. Even the rulings by the supreme Court are very clear. You can look through history and find many errors of political interference in supreme court rulings. Shall not be infringed is very clear. separation of powers is very clear. what seems to be the problem with reading plain English except for politics? we see athletes paid huge amounts of money to use a base ball bat, they do not need a permit to carry or use a very deadly weapon. I have worked trauma cases in ER of people beaten to death with a base ball bat. yet any one can carry a base ball bat any where they please. the player are not limited to how many times they can swing that base ball bat, they may get several times at bat in one game. We go hunting or the firing range or just to town to shop and we have to wait to be hit with a base ball bat and robbed or trigger happy cops. I have been stopped a number of time by cops with their guns drawn for no valid reason. a legal crack in a windshield, outdated tags. sleeping in my car TWICE. asked for permission to search my car with a 40 caliber in the back of my head being pressed and twisted at the base of my skull, fuck those chicken shit corrupt cowardly bastards. I never delegated my right to keep and bear arms to the government. the second amendment guarantees I did not delegate that authority. any law or act that impedes my right to keep and bear arms is an infringement. Including the 1934 NFA. and all state laws that violate the tenth amendment. Maybe we should require major leaguers to use little league bats instead of Louisville sluggers. give cops cap pistols or BB guns. there is no definition of weapon in the federal constitution. shall Not infringe prohibits making a definition. the states have no authority for second amendment issues under the tenth amendment. Plain English.

GC Gates said...

Bless you Dean! This something I was desperately looking for!

Anonymous said...

The consensus was that States were not restricted by the Second Amendment.

Uh huh. Settled science. Cough cough.

The NRA Negotiated Rights Away. It made a DEAL, when it was not its place to do so.
All it did was give legitimacy to that which is illegitimate- the same thing it does TODAY.

NFA and GCA can not stand up even within the Doctrine of Selective incorporation.
The NRA has to live with what ti did, and spinning it now isn't going to work.
The genesis of magazine limits, RIGHT THERE.
The genesis of some "difference" between CLASSES of arms - RIGHT THERE.
The genesis of state permission slip structures RIGHT THERE.

It is what it is, and it is best to just accept it. Just like what happened in 1986.
Over and over the NRA has snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. But hey, at least that loot is still flowing on and out today!!

Dean Weingarten said...

There was a Supreme Court decision to back up that consensus on the Second Amendment not applying to the states.

If the NRA had not "done a deal" it is likely that registration of all pistols and revolvers would have been included in the bill. We cannot know for certain, of course.

The Supreme Court was being changed by Roosevelt. Eventually, he and Truman picked 12 justices, completing the revolution in the Court, that we are still suffering from.

How do you see the NRA snatching defeat from the jaws of victory in this case? You think the bill could have been defeated in its entirety? That is something we can never know.

The NRA of the time is not the NRA of today. The NRA of 1986 is not the NRA of today.

I was pleasantly surprised to see the NRA of today go to the wall to defeat "Universal Background Checks", code for universal gun registration. But they did. That bill would have passed without the NRA going to the wall against it.

Anonymous said...

OK, the NRA of today has compromised time after time by not arguing the specifics. A compromise hear A compromise there, they just scratch at the bone instead of cutting the bone into pieces and grinding them up. go swimming , dive in head first and refuse to get your feet wet. they just refuse to face reality. or do they choose not to face reality. very few lawyers will cut their throat to prove a point. the knife is sharpest if they use to edge that has been sharpened. they are always using the dullest part of the blade. the issues placed before the court have to be factual concise and to the point. the constitution has what is called original intent. read the Sisters of Trinity decision of 1892 for some insight to original intent. Everyone of the framers were veterans of the charge of treason against the king, they were not politicians they were the intellectuals of the time. they made the statement "We have given you a constitution , it is up to you to keep it, well politicians have failed miserably, we allowed them to fail. to me the NRA is whining not fighting to get back what we have lost. they fight like Frenchmen throw the rifle down and charge in the wrong direction and think they have won a victory because they survived the battle. the framers actually saw the blood and new more would be required. the government the framers designed was called the great experiment, well politicians have put a laser hole in the bottom of the test tube and our constitution has been very slowly dripping out. and we were made to pay for the laser and clean up the drips. the constitution is not a living document it is carved in stone. it can be changed but they made that as difficult as possible for good reason. flippant decisions are usually wrong. the problem is we now have a flippant society not an intellectual society made up a patriots. they would rather rule by popularity than by law.
The ten commandments are law. we now celebrate the Sabbath on Sunday because a man, the pope, changed that God given commandment in 513 AD. Why do you think we have a two day week end. Friday night at sundown starts the God's Sabbath to sundown on Saturday the seventh day of the week is the Sabbath of God not the first day of the week. God rested on the seventh day of creation This nation was dedicated to God to not the pope. end of sermon. for now.

We are supposed to be ruled by law not the most popular opinion of the time. the Bible is law, the constitution is law and an opinion is an opinion.

Anonymous said...

The consensus of the supreme court violates the very standard set by the tenth amendment. Like I have said before read the tenth amendment until you understand what it says. anything written in the federal constitution can not be ignored by the states nor do Shall Not Be Infringed the states have any authority to change what is in the federal constitution, the tenth amendment is by its self the guarantee that states can not change the federal constitution. This consensus is one of those USSC errors. they failed to enforce the tenth amendment restrictions on state authority. the federal constitution is superior to any state constitution therefore it is superior to any state law. states can not change what the federal constitution guarantees. that consensus was political not judicial. it was wrong then and it is wrong now and it will always be wrong. Shall not be infringed is still in full force and effect. Shall not is the strongest legal words than can be used to say NO. No you can not deny anyone the right of self defense. No you cannot tell anyone what weapon they can own . No you can not requires any person to get a permit or a license to carry or how to carry. No you can not even require an age limit. No you can not require A TRIGGER LOCK OR SAFE. No you can not stop any one from carrying from one state to another. No you can not tell me what ammo or caliber I can have. And No you can not tell me what a weapon is. You can not tell me how long a weapon has to be. I have bows that are any where from 3 feet long to six feet long. Arrows that are from 8 inches long to 32 inches long. from 20 pound pull to 65 pound pull. I have BB guns that hold any where from single shot to hundreds of BBs. I have single shot, shot guns to five shot pumps. friends have semi automatic shot guns and I have a bolt action shot gun. the only time you need a magazine that can carry more than 10 rounds is when ten rounds is not enough for the circumstances. magazine limits limit your right to self defense. If 15 hunters see the same dear does the deer care if they are limited to one shot each? or one person with a 15 round magazine? If you need game laws make it a crime to shoot a dear with an M60 and leave the dear lay. not because he used an M-60 but because he did not take the dear home. the supreme recently ruled we have the right to live off the land, that physically makes state game laws invalid, game tags invalid and permits invalid and state lines for hunting invalid. we have the right to tracers the entire country eating what we kill for food. No one has the right to force you to starve to death because you cross a state line or can not afford the hunting license. bring me any one that can guarantee what kind of a fish is going to take your hook? or how much or how long that fish will be. No one has the right to confiscate the tools you use to feed or defend yourself with. but they do it all the time. I believe stopping that practice is a matter of self defense.

Anonymous said...

Any thing I can buy is mine. I have close to 20 one quart canteens military style plastic and metal with covers. I need some extra pistol belts to put the canteens on. I have too many knives of varying lengths and types to count. I have all of the ammo I need and the materials and equipment to make much more. and physically damn good with all of the weapons I have, even my hands and feet. Like Charlton Hesston said they can take them out of my cold dead hands, but they will not get them while I am alive.

Hooray for the NRA they pushed a law in Arizona to make it legal for a woman to carry a loaded hand gun in her purse without a permit. the only problem with that is it was written in to the Arizona constitution when Arizona became a state. a total waste of effort and money and time. I know the Arizona constitution I reported on that very issue in high school in 1963, 51 years after state hood. but the NRA and the state legislature were to ignorant to know the law already existed. but they get paid well for being experts.

Dean Weingarten said...

The NRA backed Court cases that referred to the Arizona Constitution directly. They had notes from the Arizona Constitutional Convention that showed that the Constitutional Convention refused to put in an Amendment to allow the legislature to ban concealed carry. Bob Corbin was the President of the NRA from 1992-1994. I talked to him about it. He was the one who found the original state constitutional convention notes. He was obviously still angry about the decision. He was Attorney General of Arizona, and retired in 1991, before the appeals court decision on the case.

Guess what. The State Appeals court ruled against them, then the State Supreme Court refused to hear the case.

Sure, the facts are clear. But they do not do much good unless you have judges who are willing to uphold the law.

Anonymous said...

Judges can and should be impeached and removed when appropriate, citizens get the government they deserve. when they refuse to stand up we all suffer the loss. what you have to understand is if it is not written it does not exist. there is no authority to support permits. the constitution can not be changed by laws. some people never understand the technicalities of law. No authority to create permits. is the same as no authority to deny permits. the issue of permits was not addressed there fore permits do not exist. the word permit must be legally added to the constitution. No law containing the word permit is valid. the authority for the permit for or against is just not there.

Judges not willing to up hold the law should be impeached and removed. Attorneys are not trained to up hold the law they are trained to manipulate the law. No one is required to be an attorney to become a judge. a judge is forbidden to make law from the bench. read the authority of judicial officers in Volume 16 second edition of American jurisprudence I wish more people would read this. judges would be leaving town left and right. FACT judges have no authority to interpret law, the only duty they have is to enforce to the letter what is written in the law without bias or opinion. If there is even a hint of bias or opinion they are required to recuse themselves or resign. failure to do so is grounds for impeachment and removal. anyone impeached/charged and convicted must be removed.

Anonymous said...

The only reason judges think they can interpret the law dates back to the Marbury v Madison case in the United Sates Supreme court of 1803. The authority to interpret was not written in to the constitution so the court ruled it had that authority. Interpreting the law is the very same exact thing as making law from the bench. the constitution states the law making authority is the sole purpose of the legislature/ congress. the legislative branch of our government.

English courts judicial officers were the ones that represented the king and had the kings authority to make law like the king. they could interpret the law and change the law as they saw fit. Our form of government has no king. this is why our constitution did not include the authority to interpret law. Find anything in the Article three of our constitution that says judges can interpret the law. the court recently ruled if it is not written it does not exist. the only authority in this country is for judges to rule according to what is written even if they do not like it or disagree.