Two just happened. They’re listed in propaganda form at Whitehouse.gov.
The first one is that folks who are purchasing National Firearms Act (NFA) regulated items (shotguns or rifles with 14″ barrels, silencers, and $10,000 machineguns, etc.) now have to ask their local law enforcement for permission regardless of how they want to buy it. Meaning that local law enforcement can simply say “no” to their purchases and deny them firearms that are already arbitrarily regulated.
John Lott gives a good summary of what was reported and what the facts are.
The short short summary is that this only applies to NFA trusts and corporations. If an individual owns an NFA item (like a 14″ shotgun or 14″ rifle, or silencer, etc.), they have to ask their chiel local law enforcement officer for permission to bring it in to the new area. If it belongs to an individual, the individual is left with some problems if they, as a registered owner, tries to move into a neighborhood where the CLEO won’t sign off on it. Are they allowed to have the NFA item anymore? Are they allowed to move there without violating new laws? All kinds of problems can crop up. Many people solve this by simply creating a trust or corporation to purchase their item, then they control the trust. The paper trust/corporation owns the item, and was exempt from having to ask CLEO permission.
This is a very specific subset of firearms enthusiasts and gun owners, as machineguns are prohibitively expensive due to artificially limited supply, and short barreled items or silencers are usually only owned by serious enthusiasts (or folks who like to protect their hearing and not annoy their neighbors). There are still NICS checks involved, there’s no “work-around”, and there’s still a pile of paperwork. A criminal with access to a machine shop can crank out plenty more dangerous things much more easily and at lower cost.
The second is that all those horrible military weapons that we gave to our allies decades ago can no longer be imported. All the M1 Garands and M1 Carbines that fed the Civilian Marksmanship Program for decades are what’s being targeted.
But by law the State Department gets to have a say when it comes to weapons that have been exported by our government to foreign governments. If those governments wish to dispose of those firearms by selling them to private importers in the United States, they have to have sign-off from the State Department. That’s where this EO comes in. Basically, the Korean government still has a lot of M1 Carbines and M1 Garands sitting in warehouses that they’d like to sell to US collectors or to the Civilian Marksmanship Program. The Obama Administration has been unwilling to sign off of any of these re-importations to date. All this executive order does is make that official policy. In short, it doesn’t actually change much from the status quo. Without the requirement for State Department signoff, those M1s would be legal to import without any permission from the US government.
A little more backstory to explain what they are and what they mean. In 1934 when the National Firearms Act (NFA) was passed, the fedgov decided to make things like short-barreled shotguns and rifles, silencers and machineguns illegal by taxing them. The cost for the tax was set at $200, which at the time was so prohibitively expensive that only the super-wealthy in the Ruling Class could afford them. Fast forward a few decades and inflation has made it so $200 is still steep, but not out-of-bounds for many folks who want to own such equipment.
Machineguns required registration, but the Hughes Amendment in 1986 cut short the supply of MGs, so now the only MGs available are those that were around and registered between 1934 and 1986. This has driven the price of even a crappy machinegun into the multiple thousands of dollars range. Things like silencers, however, are still able to be manufactured and added, and have recently become a lot more popular in the US, especially as states legalize them for hunting. If that seems odd, consider wearing hearing protection while you’re trying to stalk your quarry – either you can hear your prey or you can protect your hearing, not both without dropping money on expensive ear protection, and not for everyone in your group, and not for everyone else in the forest or across the prairie with you. Short-barreled shotguns and rifles were ruled unprotected by Second Amendment by a 1930s-era SCOTUS case which ruled them unsuitable for sporting or militia use. Except virtually every fedgov agency uses shotguns with 14″ barrels, which are apparently “unsuitable” for you to own for the same purposes… without the $200 stamp. The fedgov’s own use of such weapons disproves the 1930s SCOTUS decision, but the fedgov isn’t about to say “yeah, I suppose those are useful for X purposes”… and the 2nd Amendment doesn’t require anything to suit any purposes, so it would only be supporting a definition inconsistent with the Constitution. I’d say I digress, but this whole section here is digression.
There were two ways to buy such items – one was personally, the other through a trust or corporation. If you buy them personally, you had to ask the chief local law enforcement officer’s permission to buy them, or permission to move into his neighborhood. If he says no, you don’t get to exercise a regulated & taxed right. Trusts and corporations were exempt. Now they aren’t.
So for all the folk who have to deal with anti-gun politicians appointing anti-gun police chiefs, they just lost their right (that was already turned into a regulated privilege) to go shoot deer with a silencer and not disturb the entire forest with a shot, or to go to the range and not annoy the neighbors.
Worth noting is that in many European countries where firearm ownership is severely limited and restricted, silencers can be bought over the counter. Why? Because it’s impolite to irritate your neighbors with gunfire. The US is the only place where silencers are considered to be some kind of Hollywood ninja assassin weapon, rather than what they are – mufflers: