I saw this and thought it was very interesting. A history lesson that I did not know about...
Sorry if it is a repost.
Title: RIFLE, MILITARY - U.S. RIFLE M14M 7.62MM SN# 552554
Maker/Manufacturer: SPRINGFIELD ARMORY
Date of Manufacture: 1962-1963
Catalog Number: SPAR 3336
Measurements: OL:112.3CM 44 1/4" BL: 55.8CM 22" 9 lbs.
Object Description: U.S. RIFLE M14M 7.62MM SN# 552554
Manufactured by Springfield Armory, Springfield, Ma. in 1963 - The M14M rifle was intended for issue to NRA affiliated rifle clubs, and for sale through the Director of Civilian Marksmanship. No select switch; selector shaft welded in place. Hinged buttplate. Weapon weighs approximately 9 lbs. Weapon complete with 20-round detachable box magazine. One thousand of these arms were ordered in 1962 to familiarize students with basic rudiments of the M14 service rifle.
Receiver: U.S. RIFLE/7.62-MM M14M/SPRINGFIELD/ARMORY/552554.
Bolt: 7790186/SA CC1.
Stock: P in circle. Defense Acceptance Stamp.
Weapon transferred to Museum on 22 August 1966. At that time weapon was appraised at $128.00.
HISTORICAL SUMMARY OF ACTIVITIES:
1JUL62 - 30JUN63 - "The Armory also received an order for 1,000 Special Match 'M' M14 Rifles, which were regular production rifles, with the regular barrel, no glass bedding, the Lock Selector Switch welded in place, and the letter 'M' engraved on the receiver. New route sheets were required for the Receiver and Rifle Assembly. No problems were met with this order."
Notes: "OFFICE OF THE GENERAL COUNSEL/WASHINGTON, D.C. 20310
MEMORANDUM FOR THE UNDERSECRETARY OF THE ARMY.
Subject: Treasury Department Opinion Concerning M14M Rifle Sale (20Mar1978)
ISSUE AND CONCLUSIONS
You have requested my views with respect to the proposed sale of M14M rifles and opinion of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (BATF), Department of the Treasury, that the M14M rifle constitutes a 'machinegun' within meaning of section 5845 (b) of the National Firearms Act, as amended, 26 U.S.C. 5845 (b). I believe that BATF's conclusion that the M14M is a 'machinegun' for the purposes of the statue is legally correct. Nonetheless, sale of M14M through the Civilian Marksmanship Program will not necessitate payment of the transfer tax although it will require a registration (without charge).
Army Regulation 920-25 provides that the M14M rifle, which is the same as an M14 service rifle except that certain welding operations render the M14M rifle incapable of full automatic fire capability, is not a 'firearm' within the meaning of the National Firearms Act. However, that regulation was promulgated well before enactment of the Gun Control Act of 1968, Pub. L. No. 90-618, 82 Stat. 1213-1236, which substantially amended the National Firearms Act as it then existed. We have reviewed both the amended version of the definition of a 'machinegun', 26 U.S.C. 5845 (b), and the accompanying legislative history, and although lacking adequate technical expertise, believe that BATF's opinion that the M14M constitutes a 'machinegun' for purposes of the National Firearms Act is in accord with current law. The original definition of a machinegun was a 'weapon which shoots, or is designed to shoot...more than one shot, without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger.' 28 U.S.C. 5848 (2) (repealed 1968). Apparently, in 1965 BATF concluded that the M14M rifles, as modified with the designated welds, was no longer a weapon 'which shoots, or is designed to shoot automatically. This conclusion is rendered invalid, however, by the amended definition of a 'machinegun' which includes those weapons that can be readily restored to shoot automatically.
The Office of the Director of Civilian Marksmanship has advised my staff that the M14M rifle can be restored to shoot automatically by a skilled gunsmith in several hours. Similarly, BATF, has stated that officials at Rock Island Arsenal, which is responsible for modification of the M14 rifle, have indicated that the modification can be reversed 'without much difficulty.' Letter dated June 27, 1977 (copy attached). Given these facts, I believe there can be little dispute that the M14M 'can be readily restored to shoot automatically,' thus constituting a 'machinegun' within the meaning of the National Firearms Act, as amended. 1.
In opposition to this conclusion, the assertion has been made that, through a similaSecond, I understand that as a practical matter the M14 rifle is a much more effective automatic weapon. Having been designed as such, it can better withstand the stress and heat accompanying automatic fire. The basic capability, 20 rounds, is better suited to automatic fire that is that of the M1 rifle which is only eight or nine rounds. Finally, I understand that expanding the capacity of the M14 rifle only involves extending the magazine whereas expanding the capacity of the M1 rifle would involve restructuring its basic components.
The conclusion that a rifle is a 'machinegun' for the purposes of the National Firearms Act, as amended, has two major consequences with regard to sale of that weapons. First, the transfer must pay a $200 tax upon transfer of the rifle. 26 U.S.C. 5811. Although the tax is paid by the transfer, the cost is usually passed to the transferee, thereby substantially increasing the cost of the weapon. Based upon paragraph five of your memorandum of February 27, 1978, I understand your immediate concern to be that transfer of the M14M rifle through the Civil Marksmanship Program should not be subject to the $200 transfer tax. I do not believe that Civilian Marksmanship Program transfers would be so taxed since the tax is imposed by the United States upon the transfer, 26 U.S.C. 5811 (b), and in this instance the transfer would be the United States. It would be illogical for the United States to tax the United States. The Office of Chief Counsel, BATF, has confirmed that BATF concurs with this position with respect to sales by the United States and therefore no transfer tax would be paid on the Civilian Marksmanship Program sales.
Second, prior to any transfer, the transferor must obtain authorization from BATF, thereby effecting registration of the weapon. 26 U.S.C. 5841(c). The registry is known as the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record. It is illegal for a person to receive of possess a firearm not registered to that person with the National Firearms Transfer Record. 26 U.S.C. 5861 (d.) While the registration requirement does not apply to weapons in the possession or control of the United States, 26 U.S.C. 5841 (a), it would apply if the weapon was placed in the hands of the purchaser. Accordingly, registration by the Director of Civilian Marksmanship would be necessary. In that this requirement is statutory in nature, an exception could only be granted by Congress, not by BATF. 2.
The procedures for registration of weapons exempt from the transfer tax is set forth in the BATF regulations, 32 C.F.R. 179.90 (1977) (copy attached). In essence, the Director of Civilian Marksmanship will have to submit a Form 5 (Firearms), Application for Tax-Exempt Transfers and Registration of Firearms, to the BATF and receive BATF approval prior to transferring the weapon.
As a matter of policy, I must express my serious reservations concerning the proposed sale of M14M rifles. Although I understand that the M14M rifle is more desirable for marksmanship purposes than the M1 rifle, I believe that factor to be offset by the potential for restoration of the M14 rifle to automatic fire capability of the M1 rifle. At least until the supply of service grade M1 rifles is exhausted, I believe that the increased risk to the general public caused by sale of the M14M rifle is unwarranted. Although relatively few M14M rifles might fall into the wrong hands, those rifles, if restored to automatic fire capability, would present a serious threat to society, one that the Army should not create.
In addition, my staff has been advised by a representative of the OfficePrentiss Feagles of my office will attend the meeting on March 22, 1978 of the Executive Committee of the National Board for the Promotion of Rifle Practice. - s/Jill Wine Volner/General Counsel
1. Although unclear, BATF also seems to conclude that the M14M rifle is a 'machinegun' since it possesses the frame or receiver of a 'machinegun.' This is so-called 'once a machinegun, always a machinegun theory.' I question the validity of that approach since I believe the more reasonable reading of the statue would be that a frame or receiver is a 'machinegun' only if designed to shoot automatically or readily restorable to such capability. However, this difference is insignificant, given the separate conclusion that the M14M rifle is a 'machinegun' because it 'can be readily restored to shoot automatically.'
2. You note the exception granted certain aspects of the Civilian Marksmanship Program from Title I of the Gun Control Act of 1968 by 18 U.S.C. 925 (2) and request that I pursue such an 'exception to policy' with the Department of the Treasury with respect to sale of the M14M rifle. That exception is not an 'exception to policy' granted by the Department of the Treasury but is a statutory exception granted by the Congress. Similar legislation would be necessary in this instance...."
Smith, Joseph E. (Ed.) SMALL ARMS OF THE WORLD. Stackpole Books. Harrisburg, Pa. 1966.
Stevens, Blake. U.S. RIFLE M14: FROM JOHN GARAND TO THE M21. Collector Grade Publications Inc. Toronto, Canada. 1991.