One argument that seems to come up when talking about gun control and assault weapons bans, is that it’s a slippery slope. “What’s next?” they will ask, “Are we going to make buying rocket launchers and grenades legal?”
That argument doesn’t really work, since it’s already perfectly legal for a civilian to purchase those items.
The National Firearms Act classifies firearms into several categories.
- Machine Guns – Any weapon that fires more than one round when the trigger is pulled
- Short Barreled Rifles – Any rifle with a barrel shorter than 14″ or an overall length of less than 26″
- Short Barreled Shotgun – Any shotgun with a barrel shorter than 16″
- Silencer – Any portable device used to muffle the sound of a gunshot
- Destructive Device – Explosive and chemical weapons, or anything with a bore larger than .50, excluding those with a sporting use, such as shotguns or hunting rifles.
- Any Other Weapon – Disguised weapons, Pen guns, guns designed to fire from concealment, smooth bore pistols. Essentially a catch all for anything that isn’t a pistol, revolver, shotgun or rifle that doesn’t fit the categories above.
These are called Title II weapons. Many people think that it’s illegal to own these, but it’s not. First, you have to make sure that you can legally own one in the area that you live in. If you want an RPG, you need to make sure that you are able to own and store explosives. You may still be able to buy your grenade launcher, but you may be prevented from owning anything other than bean bags and flares.
Then, you have to find a place that is selling them. There aren’t that many on the market for civilian purchase, so good luck. Once you find a place, you have to go through a more thorough background check that what you would normally find for just purchasing a pistol. This may take some time, but once you are cleared, and it is registered in your name, you are free to take your Destructive Device home. After, of course, you pay the fees for the registration and background checks and a $200 tax.
Note, that is for each destructive device. That means that the launchers is one device, and each grenade is another. So if you if you want to buy an Milkor MGL MK1, you’ll have to go through this process and pay the tax for the weapon itself, and then once again for each grenade. So if you want to fill the cylinder, it’s going to cost you $1,400 in taxes alone. The launcher itself is going to be between $2,000 to $3000, depending on which one you want. The ammunition though? If you want anything more than flares, it’s going to be at least $300 per 40mm round, and that’s before taxes and fees. Shooting a destructive device is an expensive hobby.
Now, I should add that if you don’t buy any explosive rounds, and stick with flares and the like, you may be able to purchase a grenade launcher without all the hassle of it being a Title II Destructive device. There are exceptions made for signaling devices, and other such non weapon devices. I think you are limited to no bigger than 37mm though, and you can’t own any rounds intended to be used as a weapon or it goes from being a signaling device to being a destructive device.
This means that if you buy one 37mm grenade launcher with no intention of shooting explosive rounds from it, so don’t have it registered with the BATFE as a type II destructive device, but then buy another, pay the taxes and register it, and buy explosive ammo, even though you have the intent to only fire it from the registered device, you have just made your earlier purchase into an unregistered destructive device, even though it was legally purchased previously.
Such are the wonders of the United States gun laws…