“.FOR more than 80 years, the United States has enforced a tough and effective gun control law that most Americans have never heard of. It’s a 1934 measure called the National Firearms Act, and it stands as a stark rebuke to the most sacred precepts of the gun lobby and provides a model we should build on.Leaders of the National Rifle Association rarely talk about the firearms act, and that’s probably because it imposes precisely the kinds of practical — and constitutional — limits on gun ownership, such as registration and background checks, that the N.R.A. regularly insists will lead to the demise of the Second Amendment.
In speeches, publications and a steady stream of fund-raising literature, the N.R.A. rails against gun registration and gun owner databases. In 2008, the organization’s chief executive, Wayne LaPierre, claimed that photographing and fingerprinting gun owners was “the key gun control scheme” of the candidate Barack Obama, who, Mr. LaPierre predicted, would confiscate every gun in America before the end of his first term as president. The N.R.A. now says that the “real goal” of “gun control supporters” like Hillary Clinton is “ gun confiscation.”
But the longstanding National Firearms Act not only already mandated the registration of all owners of machine guns, short-barreled rifles, silencers and other weapons deemed highly dangerous at the time, it created a national database of those gun owners with their mug shots and fingerprints, and a detailed description of each weapon purchased, including its serial number. Purchasers of “N.F.A. weapons,” as they are known, must pass an F.B.I. background check, be approved by the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms and pay a $200 tax. Stolen weapons must be reported to the A.T.F. immediately — the sort of requirement the N.R.A. opposes for other gun thefts.”