Incremental Strategy to Reform & Repeal the National Firearms Act

Repeal The NFA National Firearms Act, IMG ammoland original

Previously, this correspondent wrote an essay on Incrementalism v. “all or nothing”. It was well-received:

Roland T. Gunner ~ “Mr. Weingarten, I take my hat off to you. This article is the best thing I have read in modern memory. Now, tell me, how do we get incremental movememt on reppealing the NFA? And for all you naysayers, sit down, shut up, or help us get it done.”

Incremental movement is happening to dismantle the National Firearms Act (NFA), bit by bit. The ultimate goal is repeal.

Here is how it is being done, and what needs to be done in the future.

Educate Gun Culture & The General Public

The first step is well underway. It is to educate the gun culture and the general public about the history and failure of the National Firearms Act. When people learn the history and the effects of the act, support for it evaporates.

When people understand the NFA is the result of a political compromise that did nothing to stop crime; but results in thousands of Americans being punished for peaceful acts, support for the NFA drops to politically irrelevant numbers. Support for the NFA is fairly wide, but very shallow, propped up by the dominant Media and their creation and proliferation of false narratives.

The Supreme Court is a follower, not a leader, in protecting the Bill of Rights. When activists and states make enough progress showing the insanity of the NFA, the courts will eventually follow.

Overwhelm The NFA System With Compliance

The second step, again, well underway, is to overwhelm the system with compliance. This sounds counter-intuitive, but it has a strong and corrosive effect on the NFA. One of the insidious components of the NFA was to create extreme, prohibitive taxes to make the NFA an effective ban instead of regulation. When the Act was passed, the $200 tax was equivalent to $3,700 today. It was 40 times the cost of a Maxim silencer.  In 1938, the first federal minimum wage was set at 25 cents an hour.  In 1938 it would take 800 hours of minimum wage labor to pay the insane $200 tax. Today the federal minimum wage is $7.25, with  30 states having significantly higher minimums. With the growth of the Federal government and the debasement of the U.S. dollar over 80 years, the tax has been reduced from 800 hours of minimum wage labor to less than 28 hours of minimum wage labor. In 1934, the tax took almost two months pay for the average income; today the tax is about one day’s pay for the average income.

For decades, there were very few people who could afford legal NFA items. Today, the vast majority of Americans can afford the $200 tax. This has led to enormous increases in the numbers of people who have legal NFA items.

Virtually everyone who has to go through the insane loops required to obtain an NFA item is disgusted with the sheer idiocy of the law. With knowledge comes support for repeal of the NFA, in part or in all.

  • In 1990, there were 399 form 1s (make your own NFA item) and 7,024 Form 4s (transfer/buy from someone else) processed.
  • In 2020, there were 40,790 form 1s and 246,600 Form 4s processed, an increase of 100x for form 1s and 35x for form 4s.

Every person who takes a legal silencer to the gun club, contributes to the demise of the NFA. Every hobbyist who makes a Short Barreled Rifle legally, contributes to the demise of the NFA. There are now over 2.6 million legal silencers in the United States. In 1990, there were about 30,000 (estimated). Overwhelming compliance leads to normalization and acceptance by the gun culture and eventually the general public. Acceptance leads to the dismantling of the National Firearms Act.

National Firearms Act (NFA) Items from Rock Island Auctions. Pistols with shoulder stocks are considered “short-barreled rifles”. The Ruger Mark I has an integral silencer.

Take NFA Apart Piece by Piece

The third incremental step is to attack the NFA part by part. The weakest link in the NFA is the tax and regulation of silencers. Silencers registered with the NFA have gone from relatively rare in 1968 (probably on the order of a couple thousand, records are difficult to find) to over 2.6 million as of May of 2021.

There are strong movements to remove silencers/suppressors from the NFA. There is significant evidence many inside the ATFwant silencers removed from the NFA.

The next weakest link is short-barreled rifles and shotguns (sbr/sbs). There is no logical reason to restrict these firearms more than handguns. Short barreled rifles and shotguns are generally harder to conceal than handguns; but handguns enjoy Constitutional protections, affirmed by the Heller and McDonald decisions. Removal of short-barreled rifles and shotguns to the same regulation as pistols is easily understood.

Automatic firearms will be the most difficult to remove from the NFA. A strong case exists to remove the 1986 ban on further manufacture for sale to non-government entities or to re-interpret the law to mean sale to non-government entities only required governmental permission instead of a ban. The current wording of the law is ambiguous enough for this interpretation.

Keeping the excise tax at $200, or alternatively, reducing or eliminating the tax, is key to reforming the NFA. With reform or re-interpretation of the 1986 freeze on sales of automatic firearms, the number will increase; normalization will occur, and processing for acquiring automatic firearms will become much easier, as has happened with silencers.

Legal owners of NFA items have shown themselves to be exemplary models of law-abiding citizens.

Experience will show legal ownership to be a non-problem, in the long term.

Reform of the NFA will be accelerated with action in the states

The irrationality of the NFA law is so conspicuous, state reforms for silencer law and SBR/SBS law are obvious incremental goals.  The general pattern is this:

  • Remove state bans on possession of the NFA items.
  • Remove state bans on hunting with the NFA items.
  • Remove state bans on the NFA item altogether.
  • Ban state resources from enforcing Federal law restricting the NFA item. (NFA Sanctuary States?..<–you heard it here 1st)

These actions increase the use and normalization of silencers, short-barreled rifles, and short-barreled shotguns. Each part can be accomplished as an incremental act while maintaining the express goal of removing these irrational restrictions altogether.

As more and more states remove restrictions, the statistics will show how irrational the current laws are. IE: Think Marijuana Legalization.

This is precisely what happened in Texas, where local officials are now banned from enforcing federal law on silencers, and there is no local restrictions on silencer possession or use. Texas already has the highest number of legal silencers of any state in the nation, with over half a million. Florida is next with 175 thousand, Then Georgia with 130 thousand.

The final step should be the repeal of the NFA as antithetical to the Second Amendment. The Supreme Court is a follower, not a leader, in protecting the Bill of Rights. When activists and states make enough progress showing the insanity of the NFA, the courts will eventually follow.  Unfortunately, that is reality as this correspondent sees it.

The actions are not necessarily sequential. Many can and should overlap and proceed concurrently.

The program for incremental reform/repeal:

  • Education
  • Massive Compliance
  • State Action on Silencers/SBRs/SBSs, NFA Sanctuary States
  • Removal of Silencers from NFA
  • Removal of SBRs/SBSs from NFA
  • Repeal/Reinterpretation of the 1986 ban on the production of automatic firearms for citizen ownership.

Last but not least: Repeal of NFA, or finding the NFA as unconstitutional under an invigorated Second Amendment with an originalist and textualist Supreme Court.

About Dean Weingarten:

Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of Constitutional Carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.

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Suppressors and sbr’s are in common use, far more than the 140,000 tazers that were determined protected by the 2nd amendment as bearable arms in common use. Repeal the unconstitutional nfa. Do it now!

Wild Bill

I agree, but we haven’t the numbers. The S. Ct. could declare it unconstitutional, but we haven’t the numbers their, either.


“Sotostupid” that is SOTOPERFECT! I’m amazed, sorta, that Sotostupid actually said what she said. A normal person would be ashamed, mortified and would move Heaven and Earth to apologize and set the record straight that they misspoke. Not with the commies. The SOTOSTUPID example proves most politicians are ignorant and under-informed puppets of staff and deep pocket benefactors. To be successful as a pol today all you have to do is be able to comfortably speak in public, that’s really the only qualification one needs, and have organizational skills or have someone close to you who has. It works on… Read more »

Wild Bill

Unfortunately, she is not Solostupid! There are several that are learned in the law; ignorant of the real world; have the power and an unconstitutional agenda.

Roland T. Gunner

The time is soon coming when we must take this battle to the enemy and prosecute this war to its successful conclusion.

Green Mtn. Boy

As the NFA is un Constitutional it should have never been passed in the first place and certainly should have already been repealed into history’s trash bin.


Theres another problem to address. Big government. How many people are employed by BATFE to handle NFA items? Have you ever seen a Gov’t agency downsize? The secret meetings at their offices will remind section heads that X amout of employees will no longer have a job if they support dismantling parts of the GCA/NFA. We are fighting a deeply entrenched Goliath and it’s going to take two stones to slay, one isnt going to do it.


Looking at how long it’s backup to get things done I would guess three or if they have more than that their job is to do about 1 a day. And it appears they are woefully understaffed in other departments. I was talking to a guy in the bar last nite who told me he was denied on a 4473. He was given a contact number to appeal. When he called they said due to shortage in staffing their was no appeals being processed right now. So constitutional right denied, but I be they could change around some people to… Read more »


“And it appears they are woefully understaffed in other departments.”

No. The BATFE and FBI are lazy and inefficient. They are not fired for being lazy and inefficient, so they become lazier and more inefficient. A businessperson (not a lifelong government employee) needs to be put in charge and fire people, hire better people, implement efficient practices (all this while politicians work on reducing regulation – such as removing SBSs, SBRs, and suppressors from the purview of the NFA of 1934).

It doesn’t appear as though any Republican legislators are interested in pursuing this agenda.

Roland T. Gunner

Luckily, most of us have to stones; some of us, big brass ones clanging together.

Xaun Loc

Our problem is simple


how about a real pro usa president , reads constitution live on tv and dissolves government agencies that are in violation and pushes courts to read the constitution and apply it as written


NFA is infringement and it’s our duty to ignore any unconstitutional infringement on our second amendment rights. NFA and the BATF are irrelevant due to the fact they they violate the constitution and the second amendment in several ways . Therefore they have made themselves irrelevant by not honoring thier oath to uphold the constitution .


how many of these government people would be screaming nonono you cant take me to jail im important if one prosicutor from any state would have them arrested for constitutional violations , would be a loud thud


Incrementalism is the tool of the left, and in particular the Progressive movement (think Woodrow Wilson) and the Progressive New Left (think the Weather Underground and now BLM). Use the tools and techniques they have used. They deconstructed the natural law guarantees of our Constitution and common law incrementally. Insidiously. Dishonestly. Facts have never been on their side but they can organize the ill informed and the emotion driven in to interest blocs who will press for ‘change’ when no change is in order. Sooothsayers like Barak Obama called for hope and change on things that are actually phantoms. I… Read more »

Last edited 2 years ago by nrringlee

IOW, fight fire with fire.

Xaun Loc

All wonderful ideas, but to implement any of the serious ones requires a political groundswell. So, let’s say for a moment that we convince a significant number of gun owners and their families to support this incremental dismantlement of the NFA… Where do we go from there? Oh, that’s obvious, you say — we just elect politicians who support our positions. Ah, but where do we find these pro-gun politicians? Let’s face it – in the real world, federal and state governments are purely a two party system. So-called third party candidates have no realistic chance of being elected at… Read more »

Wild Bill

Well said.

Roland T. Gunner

Show me the electable candidate who will hold a press conference and say, into the mivrophone, ” I support the individual 2A right to mail-order a select-fire M4 carbine”.

I Haz A Question

The caption under the photo showing the Ruger Mark I is misleading. I own an original Mark I, and they were available in tapered barrel or bull barrel, but not with integral suppressor. The only version I’m aware of for the Mark I is an aftermarket barrel beginning in 2019 from Tactical Solutions. But it’s a recent modification, not Ruger OEM.


It used to be quite common to see silencer manufacturers build integrals out of the Ruger Mark .22lr series, to the point where they weren’t really a custom item. You could find them offered as a factory new item. You don’t see any many now, as most silencer purchasers would rather be able to use their silencer on more than one gun.

Roland T. Gunner

Not to mention tha SBR status does not apply to antique pistols with shoulder stocks such as the pictured Mauser Broomhandle, stocked Lugers and stocked Hi-powers.

Roland T. Gunner

Thank you Mr. Weingarten; I believe your analysis is excellent and accurate. However, I am getting a little gray around the edges and thin on top, and I was thinking more along the lines of suppressors in 2022, SBRs in 2023, and machineguns in 2024; followed by ATF as an enforcement entity in 2025, lol.


great read showing the path. Education is key, as Oklahoma and Texas has shown. Challenge the Anti’s with facts and Truth at every turn.


they will just rewrite “facts” or history to their liking. educate every one you can knowing that these leftists believe their rights oboma yours ( could not bring myself to defile trump )

Roland T. Gunner

Dean, I habe read and teread this article half a dozen times since you posted it, but it is still a refreshing way to start the morning. Thanks again for an outstanding article.


I wish the “conservative” side would do more. They left keeps saying we want to ban this gun or that gun. The right simply say nope. Happy in status quo, when they should be saying gun laws are unconstitutional and we are pushing a bill to remove all such unconstitutional laws.


You want politicians to pay their own tax?


good luck getting the ban on new full autos repealed. at today’s krazy prices, those who collect them stand to lose thousands of dollars on every recent acquisition. sadly, when this was discussed years ago, those owners opposed any changes.


Substitute “Repeal the NFA” with “Abolish the ATF”. You’d get more done.

Also, add a “Share to Gab” link. You’d get more reach on your articles.

Wild Bill

Welcome to the site! I am in favor of them both, but …
Repealing the NFA would result in no agency enforcement, but repeal would be difficult.
Abolishing the BATFE would be easy due to their unusual creation, but the statute would remain so that other federal agencies could enforce it.

Last edited 2 years ago by Wild Bill