Living Through the Gun Control Act of 68

With the amount of conversations going on as ATF tries to redefine rifles and short barrelled rifles, and the definitions going way back, I realized most people can’t remember the immediate aftermath of GCA68 – I was 18.  It was a time of stress and inconvenience.  I remember, distinctly, having to show ID, and sign with name and address just to buy a box of 22 shells. 

GCA68 passed after the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy – and changed the way guns were sold in the US by mandating federal licensing for retail sales, manufacturers, importers, etc. – all the things we think are normal today.  When it passed, I had a 22 rifle Mom had bought for me at the PX, a 22 pistol that Dad got for me at Montgomery Wards, and and 03A3 I’d picked up in a hardware store – face it, at 18, I hadn’t had the opportunity or cash to take advantage of the old system.  Still, here are some of the ads from those golden days.  The top rifle in the right hand column is a long barrelled version of the rifle Oswald used – and President Kennedy’s assassination was less than 5 years in the past when GCA68 passed. 

Now the thing is, in 1968 I was making $2.50 an hour – and the ad above may have been from when I was making a buck and a quarter.  There were some good buys – but even good buys need capital.  I wasn’t bothered by tanks in the neighborhood, and $98.50 was a lot of money, so I never took the opportunity to get an anti-tank rifle. 

In 1986, President Reagan signed the Firearms Owners Protection Act – which removed parts of GCA68 that were generally accepted as unconstitutional – the big thing to me was the end of the federally required records on ammunition sales.  It also banned ownership of any full-auto that wasn’t registered before May 19, 1986.  I was working at TSJC at the time, and I suppose I could have squeezed enough out for the $200 tax on a frame or two – but I’ve never been a spray and pray guy – so I stayed out of my last affordable chance for a machine gun.  As the ad below shows, the NFA mandated tax was a lot higher than the submachine gun.

And parts kits are still available for the folks who registered a frame back in 1986 and haven’t finished their project yet . . . or want to build one as a semi-automatic. 

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