December 14, 2012
Media mogul Rupert Murdoch tweeted after the shooting in Connecticut. Here is what he said in the tweet:
Is it possible Murdoch meant “semi-automatic,” not fully automatic? Did he mis-tweet or is he clueless about gun laws in the United States? (Murdoch was born in Australia and became a U.S. citizen in 1985. It seems his naturalization did not include the duty to understand the Second Amendment.)
Fully automatic weapons are highly regulated by the federal government in the United States. They are regulated under the National Firearms Act of 1934, the Gun Control Act of 1968, and the Hughes Amendment of 1986. In order to buy one, you must go through an extensive federal background check and obtain a permit from the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms.
As you can imagine, this anti-gun federal agency doesn’t hand out permits for automatic weapons very often.
A purchaser must go through a Class III dealer and pay a $200 transfer tax. The government restricts access to weapons manufactured before 1986. Rifles for sale are usually M16s that cost around $15,000.
It is a felony to have one of these weapons without government permission.
Rupert Murdoch may want to outlaw automatic weapons, but this would be rather pointless since there are so few of them in the hands of citizens – not legal ones, anyway.
In fact, comparatively speaking, there are a small number of semi-automatic weapons out there as well. Semi-automatic weapons account for about 15 percent of the more than 250 million privately owned firearms in the United States, according to the NRA.