Are automatic weapons legal in Ohio?

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Automatic weapons legal in Ohio and in the entire United States, as long as they are registered lawfully, according to Suzanne L. Dabkowski, the Public Information Officer for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) field office in Columbus.

In Ohio as of April 2017, there are 173,405 automatic weapons, short-barreled shotguns, short-barreled rifles, destructive devices, silencers, and other weapons registered.

Of those, 21,561 are registered machine guns in Ohio. (See below for more details.) 

In light of the recent deadly massacre in Las Vegas, it's responsible to note the weapons used in the in that shooting were not automatic.

Authorities have identified them as semi-automatic outfitted with a special bump stock that uses the recoil to fire rapidly like an automatic.

A semi-automatic weapon means the trigger has to be pulled every time to shoot a round.

A fully automatic weapon means a person can pull the trigger once and rounds will continue to fire automatically.

Are automatic weapons legal in Ohio:

"Automatic weapons are legal federally, so long as they are appropriately registered with ATF under the requirements of the National Firearms Act (NFA)," says Dabkowski.

What is entailed in the registration process:

The application process for an automatic weapon is much different and harder than what it takes to by a handgun in the state of Ohio.

"The individual purchasing the weapon has completed an extended background check with ATF that includes answering background questions and providing a photo and fingerprints, which are then verified by the FBI, as well as paying a $200 transfer tax," said Dabkowski.

What causes a person to be denied:

"That application can be denied if the person is found to be prohibited from legally possessing a firearm (i.e. convicted felon, convicted of misdemeanor crime of domestic violence, etc.)," advised Dabkowski.

On the topic of mental illness keeping someone from getting an NFA permit, which remember is different from the normal process of buying a hand gun, "In order to be prohibited from purchasing a firearm a person must be "adjudicated a mental defective" or committed involuntarily to a mental institution.

This means a judge must have ordered your commitment.

So the vast majority of people, even those that have sought treatment in a mental institution of some sort, would not be prohibited from purchasing or possessing a firearm," said Dabkowski.

How many automatic weapon permits have been issued in Ohio:

The ATF tracking system files a lot of weapons under the NFA.

The Nation Firearms Act requires permits for not only automatic weapons but also, "short-barreled shotguns, short-barreled rifles, destructive devices, silencers, and any other weapon," said Dabkowski.

Here is the breakdown of all those categories through April of 2017 in Ohio:

  • Machine Guns= 21,561 (defined as: any weapon which shoots, is designed to shoot, or can be readily restored to shoot, automatically more than one shot, without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger.
  • Silencer= 52,495
  • Destructive device= 82,747 (defined as: Any explosive, incendiary, or poison gas, bomb, grenade, rocket having a propellant charge of more than 4 ounces, missile having an explosive or incendiary charge of more than one-quarter ounce or mine.)
  • Short-barreled shotgun= 6,002
  • Short-barreled rifles= 8,352
  • Other=2,248 (defined as smaller guns, not handguns that have been bored out. Example: pen guns, cane guns and specialty guns)
  • Total= 173,405

Here is all the data in the ATF's latest 2017 report:

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