Firearm Owners Protection Act


The Firearm Owners Protection Act (FOPA) is a federal law in the United States that was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan on May 19, 1986. The law made a number of changes to existing firearms laws and regulations, including restrictions on the sale and transfer of firearms, and was designed to protect the rights of gun owners while also strengthening law enforcement efforts to combat gun-related crime.

  • Effective May 19, 1986 
  • prohibiting a national registry of dealer records
  • limiting ATF inspections to once per year
  • allowing licensed dealers to sell firearms at “gun shows”
  • removed regulations on the sale and transfer of ammunition
  • prohibited civilian ownership or transfer of machine guns made after May 19, 1986
  • redefined “silencer” to include parts intended to make silencers ?

Key players, dates, and effects associated with the origin and history of FOPA:

  • Key Players involved in the the Firearm Owners Protection Act (FOPA):

    • National Rifle Association (NRA)
    • Gun Owners of America (GOA)
    • Reagan Administration
    • Congress
  • History of the Firearm Owners Protection Act (FOPA)

    • 1968: The Gun Control Act was signed into law, which established a system of licensing and regulation for firearms dealers and manufacturers, as well as restrictions on the sale of firearms to certain individuals, such as convicted felons and the mentally ill.
    • 1980: Ronald Reagan was elected President of the United States, with strong support from the NRA and other pro-gun groups.
    • 1982: The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) began conducting raids on firearms dealers and collectors, which many gun owners and pro-gun groups saw as a violation of their Second Amendment rights.
    • 1986: The FOPA was signed into law by President Reagan, with the support of the NRA and other pro-gun groups. Key provisions of the law included:
      • The establishment of legal protections for gun owners who unknowingly violate certain firearms laws.
      • The creation of a registry for machine guns manufactured before May 19, 1986, effectively banning the sale or transfer of new machine guns to civilians.
      • The prohibition of certain types of ammunition that were deemed to be “armor piercing.”
      • The loosening of certain restrictions on the transportation of firearms across state lines.
    • 1993: The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act was signed into law, which required background checks for individuals purchasing firearms from licensed dealers.

Effects of the Firearm Owners Protection Act (FOPA):

      • The FOPA has been praised by gun rights advocates for protecting the Second Amendment rights of gun owners and for making it easier to transport firearms across state lines.
      • The creation of the machine gun registry has effectively limited the availability of new automatic weapons to civilians, making them highly sought-after and expensive.
      • The prohibition on armor-piercing ammunition has been criticized by some gun owners as an unnecessary restriction on their rights.
      • The FOPA has been criticized by gun control advocates for making it more difficult to regulate firearms and for weakening existing gun laws.

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