Own a Seldom-Seen Firearms Transfer Tax Stamp
Still in Use Today!
First issued in the 1930s during an era when gangsters ruled the streets, Firearms Transfer Tax Stamps paid the tax on the sale of certain guns. Discover more of the thrilling history behind this stamp below and add it to your collection today!
Firearms Transfer Tax Stamps
During the Great Depression, American gangsters such as John Dillinger, Ma Barker, and Bonnie and Clyde roamed the nation, holding up banks and killing police officers. It became known as the “Public Enemy Era,” and led to the formation of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It also led to a new chapter in stamp history.
In 1934, US Attorney General Homer Cummings wanted to reduce what were thought of as “gangster weapons.” Cummings realized the Second Amendment prohibited the banning of firearms, so instead he proposed laws to restrict certain guns and make them more difficult to own.
The result was the 1934 Firearms Act, which was known as the “Tommy Gun Act,” after a well-known automatic firearm of the time. The Act was also originally intended to restrict handguns and pistols, but they were eventually dropped from the legislation.
Besides “Tommy guns” (named after Thompson submachine guns), the law restricted ownership of short-barreled shotguns and rifles, and other concealable (non-handgun) weapons. It also included any gun with a silencer or muffler attached. Plus, less common weapons were also restricted, such as hand grenades, poison gas, grenade launchers, and “cane guns” (walking canes with guns hidden inside).
The law called for a $200 fee to own any of the mentioned firearms – a hefty fee during the Great Depression! Payment of this fee was recorded with a revenue stamp.
In 1938, Congress modified the law to include firearms that had a legitimate use, such as hunting. One example was the “Marble Game Getter,” a short .22/.410 caliber sporting gun. The fee for weapons such as the Game Getter was dropped to one dollar.
Firearms Transfer Tax Stamps are still in use today! However, since 1990 they haven’t had serial numbers printed on them and aren’t sold to the public in mint condition to avoid fraudulent misuse.