The problem with Destructive Devices
For the purposes of the National Firearms Act, the ATF interprets the term “Destructive Device” for Title II weapons to mean:
A missile having an explosive or incendiary charge of more than 1/4 oz.
Any type of weapon by whatever name known which will, or which may readily be converted to expel a projectile, by the action of an explosive or other propellant, the barrel or barrels of which have a bore greater than one-half inch in diameter.
A combination of parts designed and intended for use in converting a device into a destructive device and from which a destructive device can be readily assembled.
This means everything from a Sherman tank with a working 75mm gun (as well as each shell, if it is explosive) to the .55 caliber Boys anti-tank rifle (if functional and still in the original caliber) to the infamous ‘Street Sweeper’ shotgun, is considered a DD by the ATF and falls into the title 2/NFA realm, which requires tax stamps and typically storage in an approved explosives magazine.
As of Febuary 2015, the ATF’s Firearms Commerce Report, which gives the public a rare glimpse into the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record, contained 2,446,984 registered DDs nationwide. The super high numbers largely come from registered artillery shells and grenades.
For comparison, there are only 792,282 suppressors, the next most common NFA item.
Further, these items are very rarely used in crime. The only one incident I can think of is when a Canadian gang (!) from Montreal stole two Lahti 20mm anti-tank guns in 1965 and spent over two hours battering a bank vault door in a quiet New York town with them. And again, these were crooks with stolen guns a half-century ago. So there is that
And there is a shop in the Lone Star state; Texas Machine-Gun & Ordnance, a Type 10, Manufacturer of Destructive Devices FFL; and Type 20, Manufacturer of Explosives FEL, who is pushing the envelope on these items such as selling an NFA Legal Molotov Cocktail on Gunbroker for $125.
“This is not something you just buy over-the-counter. It transfers in full compliance with NFA laws, its owner is explicitly registered with the ATF, will take 5-6 months to get after a detailed background check, and payment of a $200 transfer tax. Service includes custom laser engraving and S/N,” reads the auction.
So in other words, a legal Molotov, complete with registration with the feds, for $400~ after taxes, shipping and fees. Of course you can build your own for like $4, but it wouldn’t be all legal like.
“People thinking that novelty Destructive Devices such as a Molotov Cocktail or a pipebomb, is in any way related to the 2nd Amendment, or have some sort of practical purpose are terribly mistaken. This is about grown men, having fun,” notes TXMGO.
The shop found itself the victim of lots of digital mudslinging after they showed up at a gun show selling $150 clock pipebombs (without explosives, needing a BATFE Form 1 to complete, making it, like the Molotov, a $400 legal endeavor), a fake improvised Claymore that was not for sale and a “Martyr Creation” suicide vest with 31lbs of high explosives and 14lbs of nails.
TXMGO has used similar vests on blow up dolls in online videos to show them off.
The Firearm Blog ran the piece first as “Idiot Sells Pipebombs and Suicide Vests at Gun Show Legally” then changed it to a more sedate “Selling Pipebombs and Suicide Vests at a Gun Show in Houston” calling TXMGO out on the stunt as being the equivalent of “that guy.”
To which TFB allowed a rebuttal from Sean with TXMGO who said in part the company is trying to shake up the industry, is doing everything legal, is not part of a fringe group, and has some neato things they are working on:
While everyone is getting all wound up on the 100% legal, NFA registered pipebombs we are selling as novelty items; they missed the reusable Molotov Cocktail, affordably priced 60mm mortar, recoilless rifle, and other projects we are working on to bring something new to market for the law-abiding citizen. This is in addition to us working to build a facility for us to offer people the chance to come and literally blow shit up, and shoot exotic weaponry.
Which in the end, provided its all perfectly legal, the government gets their tax and gives their blessing, isn’t really a big deal, is it?