HOW TO LEGALLY OWN A CLASS III WEAPON
You can legally own machine guns, silencers, AOW's, and short barreled weapons in Texas as a private citizen.  While silencers, AOW's, and short barreled weapons are still legal for new domestic manufacture and possession, there are only two types of civilian-legal "transferable" machine guns.

In 1968, the U.S. Government banned the further importation of machine guns from outside of the United States. Meaning, any foreign-produced factory machine gun was no longer able to be imported for civilian possession.  This would include such weapons as the Heckler & Koch MP5, Israel Military Industries UZI, etc.

From 1968 to May 20, 1986, foreign machine guns were only imported as law enforcement sample guns for dealer inventory.  Also during this time, domestically-produced machine guns and machine gun sears were still being produced for legal civilian possession ("transferable").  This would include such weapons as the M16, MAC domestically produced clones such as the UZI, and machine gun conversion sears like the registered Drop-In Auto Sears, drop-in auto connectors, registered HK-style trigger packs, and the FNC Auto Sears.

After May 20, 1986, the U.S. Government banned the further manufacture of all domestically-produced machine guns for civilian possession.  Thus, anything in the NFA registry was considered "transferable" and anything registered after this date is considered "Post-86 Sample."  Post-86 guns are primarily produced for law enforcement agencies and for Class III Dealers for use as a sample product to law enforcement agencies who would be prospective buyers.

Also banned were imported silencers.  All civilian legal silencers must be domestically produced.

To legally own a "transferable" machine gun, silencer, AOW, or short-barreled weapon:

1. Locate the exact weapon you are going to purchase, since the ATF registration form requires the exact information of the weapon down to the serial number.  Thus, it is not a "license" in the sense that you get a license first and then go shop for a weapon.

2. If this weapon is from out-of-state, then you have to have the weapon transferred to an in-state Class III Dealer.  Meaning, if you purchase a transferable M16 from New Hampshire and you reside in Texas, it must first be transferred tax-free on a Form 3 from New Hampshire to a Class III dealer in Texas, then on a tax-paid Form 4 to you.  You would be responsible for paying the $200 tax to ATF.

3. Initiate the Form 4 (transfer from in-state seller, either civilian or Class III Dealer, to you).  You have to be able to obtain the authorization of the Chief Law Enforcement Officer (CLEO) of the agency that has law enforcement jurisdiction in your area, such as the Chief of Police of the city you reside in or the Sheriff of the county you reside in.  You can also get the signature of a felony prosecuting District Attorney or Judge (not a Justice the Peace).  The signature of the Constable in your precinct does not count as the CLEO signature.  You can also incorporate to bypass this required signature, as it will transfer as a corporate asset.  You can file for articles of incorporation online at the Texas Secretary of State's office website here:
http://www.sos.state.tx.us/corp/sosda/index.shtml

Remember that while it is not illegal, some Police Chiefs and Sheriffs will decline to sign the Form 4.  There is no law requiring them to sign.  You can see a list of ones that have been known to sign or not
here. For the ones that generally do sign, if you can qualify for a Concealed Handgun License generally they will sign off.

File two copies of the Form 4 (with CLEO signature) along with two ATF Fingerprint Applicant Cards (ORI must read DCATF Firearms and Explosives, Washington, DC), two passport photos, a Certificate of Compliance Form 5530-20 (you can download it below), and a check for $200 payable to ATF.  If you are filing as a corporate transfer you still need the Certificate of Compliance, and you need to attach a copy of the articles of incorportion as well.
HELPFUL FORMS TO DOWNLOAD:
To download a computerized Form 1 click here. (application to make and register a Class III firearm).
To download a computerized Form 2 click here. (for Class II Manufacturers only).
To download a computerized Form 3 click here. (for SOT to SOT transfer only).
To download a computerized Form 4 click here. (application for tax paid transfer of Class III firearm).
To download a computerized Form 5 click here. (transfer to/from a Law Enforcement Agency).
To download a computerized Form 5530-20 click here. (certification of compliance - filed with Form 1 or 4, and with a Form 5 in the case where it is being transfered to a private individual).

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Click here to view FAQ's about Class III Weapons, legalities, and which CLEO's have been known to sign.

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