National Firearms Act of 1934

The NRA endorsed the first major federal gun-control law, the National Firearms Act of 1934. At congressional hearings, Karl Frederick, former NRA president, was asked if the Second Amendment was a bar to the law. His answer was, from today’s vantage point, remarkable: “I have not given it any study from that point of view.”

The National Firearms Act (NFA) was part of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s “New Deal for Crime“, and was meant to curtail “gangland crimes of that era such as the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre.”

The NFA imposed a tax on the manufacturing, selling, and transporting of firearms listed in the law, among them short-barrel shotguns and rifles, machine guns, firearm mufflers and silencers. Due to constitutional flaws, the NFA was modified several times. The $200 tax, which was high for the era, was put in place to curtail the transfer of these weapons.