#BillSchmalfeldt, Abrams Tanks, and the Second Amendment


I was going spend the entire day ignoring Cabin Boy Bill Schmalfeldt, but someone sent me a link to his latest waste of bandwidth over at Digital Journal (No, I won’t link to it.). It’s called Op-Ed: If Abrams tanks are outlawed, only outlaws will have Abrams tanks. Schmalfeldt seems to believe that ownership of an Abrams tank by a U. S. citizen is (or should be) illegal.

Other than nuclear, biological, and most chemical weapons, citizen ownership of weapons is not generally prohibited under federal law. Some are restricted. Some are taxed. But few are prohibited. Some states are more restrictive than the feds.

I don’t know how one would go about buying one, but I’m not sure that there is any federal law that bans private ownership of an Abrams tank.

There would be a lot of paperwork and tax filings involved in owning an Abrams. The two 7.62 X 51 mm machine guns and the .50 M2 machine gun would need to have the appropriate ATF tax stamps (and the guns would need to have been made before the 1986 ban). The main gun (either the 105 mm for early M1 or the newer 120 mm) would also have to be registered with the ATF as a destructive device and the appropriate tax stamp purchased.

Here in Maryland, the three machine guns would have to be licensed by the State Police, and the owner would have to pay a $10/year fee for each. The MVA wouldn’t issue tags, so the owner would be restricted to off-road use.

If the owner kept live rounds for the main gun, the ATF would impose requirements on the storage magazine, and, here in Maryland, the State Fire Marshal would get involved.

So, yes, the Second Amendment does protect a citizen’s right to possess arms.GE

Even an Abrams tank with the right paperwork.

UPDATE—Stacy McCain has more about crazy folks with guns here.

13 thoughts on “#BillSchmalfeldt, Abrams Tanks, and the Second Amendment

  1. IANAL but I think the restriction on purchasing an Abrams tank may be contractual rather than legal. I base this on the fact you cannot purchase a military type Humvee because the contract prevents them from being sold to entities other than the US Government without government permission. Anyone know anything different?

  2. Don’t forget, the rounds for the main gun have to be individually registered, as well, with the ATF, and a tax stamp purchased for each of them, at $200 a pop.

    Quickly becomes a rich man’s game, which is wrong…

  3. I almost forgot: the armor on an M1 Abrams is considered secret. You’d need a security clearance to buy one. The electronics probably secret as well.

  4. There’s a de-militarize requirement when the military sales equipment to non-military and non-police agencies. I would expect the requirements would include at the very least removing the classified armor & any other classified on board, doing something to the main gun so it can not fire actual rounds any more, removing 50 cal gun, night scope equipment, etc.

    Basically, you get one overweight bath tub that gets poor mileage. It still would be cool to own one! LOL…

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