In four states (New York, California, Massachusetts, and Arizona), it is illegal to carry nunchucks.
Oddly, those same states have a total of 60,715 legally registered machine guns.
Machine guns are one of six categories of “Title II” weapon, which are regulated federally under the National Firearms Act.
Based on data from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, the graphic below shows the number of federally registered weapons in each state, broken down by the six NFA weapon categories (definitions can be found below the graphic).
Click on a state to see more information.
NFA Registered Weapons by State, as of 2014
NFA Weapon Definitions
Machine guns — this includes any firearm which can fire more than 1 cartridge per trigger pull. Both continuous fully automatic fire and “burst fire” (i.e., firearms with a 3-round burst feature) are considered machine gun features. The weapon’s receiver is by itself considered to be a regulated firearm.
A non-machinegun that may be converted to fire more than one shot per trigger pull by ordinary mechanical skills is determined to be “readily convertible”, and classed as a machinegun, such as a KG-9 pistol (pre-ban ones are “grandfathered”).
- Short-barreled rifles — this category includes any firearm with a buttstock and either a rifled barrel under 16″ long or an overall length under 26″. The overall length is measured with any folding or collapsing stocks in the extended position. The category also includes firearms which came from the factory with a buttstock that was later removed by a third party.
- Short-barreled shotguns — this category is defined similarly to SBRs, but the barrel must be under 18″ or a minimum overall length under 26″. and the barrel must be a smoothbore.
- Suppressors — this includes any portable device designed to muffle or disguise the report of a portable firearm. This category does not include non-portable devices, such as sound traps used by gunsmiths in their shops which are large and usually bolted to the floor.
Destructive Devices — there are two broad classes of destructive devices:
1) Devices such as grenades, bombs, explosive missiles, poison gas weapons, etc.
2) Any firearm with a bore over 0.50 inch except for shotguns or shotgun shells which have been found to be generally recognized as particularly suitable for sporting purposes. (Many firearms with bores over 0.50″ inch, such as 12-gauge shotguns, are exempted from the law because they have been determined to have a “legitimate sporting use”.)
A few interesting stats that jump out:
- The state with most machine guns per capita is New Hampshire, with 7.4 for every 1,000 residents. New Hampshire also happens to have the lowest murder rate.
- In Wyoming, which has a population of only about 600,000, there are over 100,000 “destructive devices” registered. I have not managed to figure out why, but there must be an interesting story there.
- Washington D.C., which does not appear on the map, has the second highest number of NFA weapons per capita, with 62 per 1,000 residents.
- Oklahoma‘s total NFA registrations are lower than the national average, but the number of silencers registered is the second highest per capita.
- California is well known to have some of the strictest gun control laws in the U.S. Yet, it ranks #2 in terms of total number of registered weapons (Texas is #1). Ironically, many of these weapons are owned by Hollywood, an industry that includes some of the loudest voices supporting gun control.
- Arizona, one of the states that bans nunchucks, ranks #9 overall with 16 NFA-registered weapons per 1,000 residents.
The obvious question for Arizona: What is the legality of tying two of these machine guns together, thereby creating a pair of “gunchucks?”
Who owns all these weapons registered in New York?
In theory, all Class III weapons are completely banned in New York. Even being in the same room as a machine gun is enough to get you in trouble:
The presence in any room, dwelling, structure or vehicle of any machine-gun is presumptive evidence of its unlawful possession by all persons occupying the place where such machine-gun is found.
I’m sure police departments account for much of it, but there are only 50,000 police officers in New York. Could they really have the need for 9,000 machine guns? I have an even harder time seeing why the police would own thousands of silencers or short-barrel shotguns.
The ATF does not release information about who the registered owners are, but if anyone has an idea, I would love to know.
More about my background
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