Compared to most countries, the United States has some of the most lenient gun laws, with the right to bear arms being enshrined in the constitution itself. Still, even in the most gun-friendly states, you will find restrictions on what firearms types and their accessories you can purchase.
But, having said that, a restriction shouldn’t be conflated with illegality. Provided you have the right authorization, even a fully automatic machine gun could be legally acquired. In this guide, we’ll be exploring what a “Class 3” firearms license is, requirements on how to acquire it, what are its costs as well as additional helpful information on the subject.
Table of Content
- What is a Class 3 Firearm License?
- How to Get a Class 3 Firearms License
- FFL Requirements
- SOT Requirements
- Additional Information
- Wrap Up
- Frequently Asked Questions
- What Are the Types of Title II Firearms?
- Will This License Allow Me to Legally Built a Machine Gun at Home?
- Do I Need a Class 3 License to Purchase a Silencer?
What is a Class 3 Firearm License?
At the range or at online gun forums, in discussions, you might have come across the term ‘Class 3 Firearm License’. This is actually an informal term for a Class 3 SOT (Special Occupational Taxpayer) license. When combined with the proper FFL (Federal Firearm License), it makes it easier for you to purchase and own Title II (NFA) firearms.
There are actually three classes of a SOT license, but for personal Title II firearms ownership, Class 3 is the only one you’ll be needing. Still, in case you are curious about the other two – Class 1 allows importation of Title II items while Class 2 allows you to manufacture and resell them, provided you have the right FFL, of course.
Do note that you don’t actually need this type of license to acquire most NFA firearms for personal use, which can be done by filing an ATF form and paying the $200 tax for the transfer. This misunderstanding is quite widespread, and likely arises from a misunderstanding of the NFA tax registration process or because of the fact that you can only purchase NFA weapons from Class 3 dealers.
Still, acquiring a Class 3 SOT can still be advantageous as it helps significantly lower the approval wait time and you don’t have to pay the $200 tax each time you buy an NFA item. In addition, in some states, it actually might the only viable means to get NFA firearms.
How to Get a Class 3 Firearms License
To get a Class 3 SOT, you need to first acquire the appropriate FFL. For personal use, you especially either a 01 FFL or a 02 FFL. 01 FFL is required to selling or repairing firearms while a 02 FFL is a general license for retail sales. A 03 FFL also exists that is meant for collectors, but it only limits you to firearms that are at least five decades old or approved by the ATF.
Contrary to popular beliefs, acquiring an FFL isn’t all that difficult. Below are the baseline requirements to qualify for an FFL:
- Not be under 21 of age
- Not be under indictment or have been convicted of a crime or felony that carries a sentence of over one year.
- Not be an illegal alien or a fugitive from justice
- Not ever been dishonorably discharged from the military.
- Not ever have been committed to a mental institution or declared mentally handicapped.
- Not be subject to a restraining order against an intimate partner or children or had had a history of domestic violence.
In other words, the majority of adult U.S citizens can easily qualify for the license. The actual difficult part is correctly filling out the tons of paperwork associated with it. We recommend you gain the consultation of a qualified firearms attorney to aid you through this process.
The approval process doesn’t take much time (relatively), and you don’t even need to own a commercial establishment to acquire it as a home address qualifies as well. Just be mindful of your local zoning laws.
Now, that you have your FFL, it’s time to get the SOT license. Acquiring a SOT is an even easier process. You will need to fill out this form. Again, we recommend you take the help of a trusted legal professional if you find yourself confused while filling it. Once filled, pay the $500 tax and send it over. After a month or so, you will get your SOT license approved.
It is important to know that the SOT tax year begins on the same date for everyone regardless of when they actually registered for. As of the latest, that date is July 30Th. So, consider the timing of your SOT registration to be critically important. For instance, it wouldn’t be a good idea to apply in June only to have it expire at the end of that month. If you let it expire, not only would you have wasted money but if you haven’t stamped things to yourself, or a trust, you’re going to be putting yourself a world of hurt.
It is important to remember that officially a Class 3 license is for commercial use only and thus its personal use has to be incidental to your regular commercial activities. Thus, to avoid getting into any potential trouble with the ATF, if you plan on acquiring NFA weapons for yourself with the help of this license, consider keeping them in the name of your business or designating them as a demo or rental items.
To summarize, a Class 3 license isn’t actually needed to purchase and own an NFA firearm, but it can still be advantageous to acquire, especially if you plan on buying multiple NFA items or live in a state with highly restrictive gun laws. Getting one is quite easy; you simply need to be a law-abiding citizen of legal age to own a gun.
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Frequently Asked Questions
What Are the Types of Title II firearms?
Title II firearms, alternatively referred to as NFA firearms are a class of highly regulated weapons which includes the following categories:
Machine Gun: Any firearm with the ability to fire more than one projectile for every single operation of the trigger
Short Barreled Shotgun: Shotguns with an overall length of less than 26” or barrel length of less than 18”
Short Barreled Rifle: Rifles with an overall length of less than 26” or barrel length of less than 18”
Destructive Devices: Relates to explosive ordinance e.g. grenades and other types of explosives
Other Weapons: A catch-all term for any unconventional prohibited firearm e.g. cane guns, pen guns, etc.
Will This License Allow Me to Legally Built a Machine Gun at Home?
No, for that you will need to additionally obtain a Class 2 SOT license.
Do I Need a Class 3 License to Purchase a Silencer?
While laws may vary by states but at the Federal level, no special license is required to legally purchase a silencer. To buy, simply put down the money, fill the ATF Form, wait for the approval and that’s pretty much it.
How Much Does an FFL Cost?
Both the 01 and 02 FFL will cost you $200 for the first three years, and afterward, can be renewed every three years for $90.