ATF

Sample Block


Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives


27 CFR
179.105: TRANSFER AND POSSESSION OF MACHINEGUNS

Applications
to transfer two (2) machineguns of a particular model to a Federal firearms licensee
as sales samples will be approved if documentation shows necessity for demonstration
to government agencies.

ATF
Rul. 2002-5

The
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) has received inquiries from dealers
in machineguns concerning the justification necessary
to obtain more than
one machinegun of a particular model as dealer sales samples. Specifically, the
inquiries are from machinegun dealers who demonstrate machineguns to large police
departments and Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) teams, which requires the firing
of thousands of rounds of ammunition during a single demonstration. Section 922(o)
of Title 18, United States Code, makes it unlawful for any person to transfer
or possess a machinegun, except a transfer to or by or under the authority of
the United States or any department or agency thereof or a State or a department,
agency, or political subdivision of; or any lawful transfer or lawful possession
of a machinegun lawfully possessed before May 19, 1986.


The regulations in 27 CFR 179.105(d) provide that applications to register and
transfer a machinegun manufactured or imported on or after
May 19, 1986, to
dealers registered under the National Firearms Act (NFA), 26 U.S.C. Chapter 53,
will be approved if three conditions are met. The
conditions
required to be established include (1) a showing of the expected government customers
who would require a demonstration of the weapon; (2) information as to the availability
of the machinegun to fill subsequent orders; and (3) letters from government entities
expressing a need for a particular model or interest in seeing a demonstration
of a particular weapon. The regulation further provides that applications to transfer
more than one machinegun of a particular model must also establish the dealer's
need for the quantity of samples sought to be transferred.


The dealer sales sample regulation in section 179.105(d) is a narrow exception
to the general prohibition on possession of post-1986 machineguns imposed by section
922(o). It requires that dealers submit letters of interest from law enforcement
agencies to ensure that dealers possess post-1986 machineguns only for the purposes
permitted by law, i.e., for sale or potential sale to government agencies.


Qualified dealers in machineguns often demonstrate weapons to all officers of
the department, requiring the machinegun to fire thousands of rounds of ammunition
during a single demonstration. In the case of new model machineguns, a department
may wish to have thousands of rounds fired from the weapon before they are fully
satisfied of its reliability. ATF is
aware
that after firing hundreds of rounds a machinegun often gets too hot to safely
handle, resulting in the dealer's inability to demonstrate the weapon until it
cools. In addition, it is not uncommon for machineguns to jam or misfeed ammunition
after a large quantity of ammunition has been fired. Accordingly, dealers who
demonstrate machineguns to departments with a large number of officers have asked
that ATF approve the transfer of two (2) machineguns of each model as dealer sales
samples.

The
purpose of the dealer sales sample provision is to permit properly qualified dealers
to demonstrate and sell machineguns to law enforcement agencies. Neither the law
nor the implementing regulations were intended to impose unnecessary obstacles
to police departments and other law enforcement agencies in obtaining the weapons
they need to carry out their duties. Accordingly, if a dealer can provide documentation
that the dealer needs to demonstrate a particular model of machinegun to an entire
police department or SWAT team, ATF will approve the transfer of two (2) machineguns
of that model to the dealer as sales samples.


This ruling should not be interpreted to imply that under no circumstances may
a Federal firearms licensee (FFL) receive more than two (2) machineguns as sales
samples. Consistent with past practice, an FFL who
can
show a bona fide reason as to why they need more than two (2) machineguns, may
be able to receive more than two (2) if the request is accompanied by specific
documentation.


Held, applications to transfer two (2) machineguns of a particular model to a
Federal firearms licensee as sales samples will be approved if the dealer provides
documentation that the dealer needs to demonstrate the machinegun to all the officers
of a police department or the department's SWAT team or special operations team.
An FFL who offers other bona fide reasons for their need for two (2) or more machineguns
may get more than two (2) with specific documentation.

Date
signed: September 6, 2002