Georgia's criminal laws in this regard (this is my opinion only) do not need any reformation as there is no state restriction on such weapons. The state does not regulate NFA weapons so long as you have the federal tax stamp.
I do know for a fact that many of the regular posters here own and enjoy such weapons.
My personal opinion is that the NFA violates both the Commerce Clause (meaning that the clause gives Congress no authority to pass the NFA - a view shared by soon-to-be-Justice Alito, I think, judging by his dissent in Rybar) and the Second Amendment.
The FOPA is a blatant Second Amendment violation, and I do not think it can be justified under the Commerce Clause even under an expansive interpretation. Doing away with even that would allow sub-$1,000 M-16s again.
While it would be nice, I am not aware of any problem with the CLEO signatures now (not in Georgia, I mean).
Is there one?
There are usually more choices even if there was a problem with one refusing.
I have never had more than a brief meeting, signature right on the spot, with an eager question, "Whatchya' getting?" with a smile, although this may have more to do with where I live than anything else.
The DA Danny Porter signed for me for many years that one day W/O notice he said he wasn't singing for anybody under any circumstance. This was an election year and Sheriff Conway started signing after refusing to do so for many years. The last I heard he was still still signing, but this on and off crap is whimsical to say the least.
I wouldn't mind owning a few suppressors myself. I live in an rural area, but I still have neighbors and I love to be able to silence my firearms when I am target practicing in my backyard as not to disturb my neighbors.
On the signing issue, I understand from some class III dealers that there are people at GBI that will sign, and I further understand that ATF accepts it. I tend to agree, though, with Malum Prohibitum, that getting law enforcement signatures for class III weapons is not a big problem in GA, and probably should not be a priority from a legislative perspective. If you have experienced a local problem getting a signature, you might want to check with an class III dealer in your area about alternative places to get signatures.
Chuck Severs at the GBI was a true friend to the NFA community, but he retired about 2 years ago. His replacement signed for about 8 weeks then quit. In a nut shell he basically said he didn't have time to screw with it and the local Sheriff's should do their job.
If I were the "chief law enforcement officer" asked to sign it, I would of course want to investigate what I was signing. If it is a statement that the applicant is not a prohibited person and that such weapons are legal in that jurisdiction, then it seems that looking at a recent copy of the person's GCIC and a few minutes worth of legal research into the Code of Georgia, Title 16, should give a clear answer.
But if it were to require a significant amount of time, or money, to do that research and investigation, then I think that somebody should give the Sheriff's Department some extra money to cover that extra expense to them. The question is, who should pay?
If the application benefits all the people of the County by making the County safer by helping ensure that only good citizens have NFA weapons and criminals and nutcases don't, then all the taxpayers should pay. The Sheriff's Department should get some extra budget money from the state and county general operating funds.
If the application is viewed as only benefitting the gun owner who wants an expensive and rare new toy, then he should have to pay, rather than all his fellow citizens. So the Sheriff's Department should be able to assess a fee that includes all the costs of this transaction, to include labor.
If potential civil liability is an issue, maybe Georgia can pass a law defining what the "Duty of Care" is for a reveiwing CLEO who is presented with an NFA application to sign, and the law should say that as long he substantially complies with the steps outlined in the statute, both the officer and the Agency are immune from liability.
Malum, do you know if there is a legitimate concern about civil liability? If the Sheriff doesn't know an NFA applicant from Adam, but glances over his GCIC and finds no criminal history, and checks other databases and finds no outstanding warrants, and therefore approves the application, and later the guy murders a dozen people with his new NFA weapon, and a post-murder investigation reveals that this fellow's neighbors considered him to be mentally unstable and he was recently fired from his job for fighting... any liability?
It's my understanding that some cities/counties charge a small processing fee. I'm not sure if that's 100% legal but I wouldn't care as long it was reasonable. I've heard of fees ranging from $20.00-50.00 per application.
As far as I know the CLEO does not have any civil liabilities when he signs off on a form 4. The CLEO's signature is not the same as being approved. The CLEO can sign off and BATF can still reject your transfer. By signing he's simple stating that he's not aware of any pending local matter that should precluded you from NFA ownership that the Fed's might not be privy to. The BATF in WV approves or declines all transfers.
You can completely bypass the CLEO's signature by incorporating and many people are forced to take this route. This shouldn't be necessary, but it is in many counties and states.
Since this thread is about NFA weapons, I have a question about carrying them. Does the ATF put on any restriction as to where you may possess your NFA weapon. According to the GA code, the carrying of NFA weapons in public places appears to be legal as long as you have possession of the weapon legally and you have a GFL to carry a firearm. Can anyone with class III status elaborate on this?
I'm not a big fan of "pay as you go" government. If a particular government action is confering a private benefit, then is it even appropriate for the government to act in that manner? Take toll roads as an example. Presumably, when the government builds a road, it benefits society as a whole. Charging those who actually drive on the road is an artificial shift of the cost from general tax rolls (which of course have their faults, but at least they are a single point of attack for how burdens are shifted) to a segment of society. Many more people benefit from the existence of the toll road than those that drive on it. Goods and services are distributed throughout the market more readily because of the road. You might say that the market also will redistribute the cost of the toll to those that consume the goods and services. This is true to some extent, but it is a poor "excuse" for having most roads be free and some roads be toll. If the market is supposed to distribute the costs of roads, then it should do so universally.
Back to the transfer tax return. Here is the statement the CLEO is signing:
I certify that I am the chief law enforcement officer of the organization named below having jurisdiction in the are of residence of ____. I have no information indicating that the transferee will use the firearm or device described on this application for other than lawful purposes. I have no information that the receipt or possession of the firearm or device described in item 4 would be [sic] place the transferee in violation of State or local law.
ICP Juggalo, the federal government requires that you comply with state laws concerning where you carry your class III firearm (there are additional requirements if you carry it interstate, but I think that is beyond the scope of your question). GA does not separately regulate class III firearms. Note also that some class III "firearms," such as suppressors, probably do not constitute weapons under GA law.
My father is a collector of NFA weapons, but I personally do not own any. Two years ago I went the roundabout way of incorporating myself and having a company on paper, so that it, and myself as an officer can purchase and possess without having the CLEO signoff. Now, this was purely estate planning, as we are not going to have his most prized possessions auctioned off because of some transfer issue when he passes away; and he is in his late 60's right now. I am not aware of the issues, however I had an attorney recommended to me from Jones Day Reavis and Pogue that was also an NFA collector (the transfer would be from Ohio to GA, and he is based out of Ohio). The total cost to set everything up and the legal counsel was about $6,500. So to go this route is pretty much about 1/2 the cost of your average full auto. A small price to pay for about $100k collection. The concensus from everyone I had talked to, this was the easiest way to go, and the least painful. Not only that, I also get some tax benefits and can do things with assets by incorporating myself and provides liability protection, etc. You can do it on your own, but would highly recommend an attorney to review everything. You still have to have records of meeting notes, etc., don't get me wrong it is a PITA but just follow some simple directions. If and when I do a transfer, I'll let you all know how it goes.
Wow, I missed a whole bunch on this thread somehow.
Anyway, I am not aware of any CLEO ever being held liable for anything. Of course, I am aware of only one murder committed with an NFA firearm, and that murder was committed by a law enforcement officer, so take that for what it is worth.
Also for what it is worth, I have never had anybody check anything on me of which I am aware, nor has there ever been a fee assessed. The form has always been signed, in my presence, with eager questions about what I was getting.
There is certainly nothing in the language the CLEO is signing that would lead him to believe he is taking on any liability.
Maybe I will try to remember to post the language above the signature line.
Having moved from NY, I'm thrilled about GA's NFA rules (or lack thereof). Clarke county gave me no hassle about CLEO signoff, but did require more personal attention with a background check & processing with an underling, and waited a few days for the sheriff to sign it.
Ironically, getting CLEO signoff in upstate NY (smoothbore pistols are legal there; registering a 12ga handgun was fun) was quick, and the sheriff commented "I've been in this job 13 years and nobody ever asked me to sign one of these!" (no hassle, just arranged a meeting time, described what I wanted & why, signed, waited for a photocopy).
We must figure out how to overturn 922(o). Paying $15000 more for a $0.50 part in an AR15-type platform is absurd. Full-auto is standard military fare; Congress declared me (and you) a member of the US militia, so we should at least be able to arm ourselves with a mundane M4.