1986 FOPA – Congressional Shenanigans

Most “gun people” know that in 1986, the manufacture of new machine guns was banned by an amendment to the 1986 Firearm Owners Protection Act.

There’s always been a rumor about it being a late night voice vote that really didn’t have the requisite number of votes to pass, but was ordered to be added anyway.

Now, however, thanks to the detective work of a man who goes by the name AJAX22, we’re finding out that a recorded vote was taken, and the amendment was defeated – but again, it was ordered to be added anyway.

Who was instrumental in this action? None other than Charlie Rangel, then acting as Speaker of the House – the disgraced, corrupt New York congressman who was recently censured on the floor of the House. Are we really surprised that a person of such low “moral caliber” would falsify records to ensure that a law he favored would pass, directly subverting the democratic process? I’m not.

There is some controversy about the vote, the full transcript of which can be found here

Is there something fishy here? Oh, yes. What can be done? That’s not clear at this time. It’s unlikely that the Supreme Court would inject itself into the situation, although, ironically, the Supreme Court derives much of its power from injecting itself into a situation where it never had a clear power to do so – I’m talking about Marbury v. Madison and the power of judicial review. The modern Supreme Court doesn’t like to interfere with the internal business of the other branches, which is, frankly, a good thing.

With legal challenges hazy at best, perhaps the best option – and the one with the most poetic justice – would be to have an amendment added to some bill in Congress that was destined to pass. This happened recently with the “credit card overhaul” bill and the amendment allowing the carrying of firearms in National Parks. President Obama signed the bill despite the inclusion of the pro-gun measure. Of course, this is going to take a lot of legwork on the part of pro-gun folks. While it would probably be prudent to wait for AJAX22 to upload a video of the vote to YouTube, a strongly-worded letter to your Congressman might be in order soon.



Filed under News Stories/Events/Opinion

15 responses to “1986 FOPA – Congressional Shenanigans

  1. Josh

    While i think it is BS that this was passed. I feel there is other more important legislation and executive orders( that deal with firearms) that us pro gun folks need to work on getting rid of.

  2. John Jackson


  3. Ajax22

    Hi there,

    This is based on comments i made after an early reading of the transcripts.

    Subsequent revision revealed that there was a voice vote in which Rangel declared the amendment approved in between the two recorded votes and the second recorded vote was on the passage of the overall bill.

    Interestingly Rangel called the first voice vote prior to the recorded vote (which has the Hughes amendment defeated by a wide margin) for his team despite a clear majority opposing it.

    He also declares the bill defeated, before a recorded vote is demanded and shows that it was passed by a large majority.

    So the real question is: how is it that a man who has been calling (incorrectly) every voice vote that day for his own team allowed to call one without a recorded vote being demanded. Particularly when it was defeated by such a large margin less than five min before.

    It may be that he simply ignored calls for a recorded vote… But only the film will give us that answer.


  4. Ajax22


    Here is a better ‘blow by blow’ of the way the vote went down.

  5. willardcw4

    I find it very upset that shenanigans like this took place, yet I’m not surprised. I’m sure things like this happen more often than people would like to imagine. Hoping this information will go somewhere and people get pissed off enough to call up Hannity (or similar) / get it publicized.

  6. MarkM

    It’s been said we get the Congress we deserve. While there are many issues of importance for legislative action, like reciprocal concealed carry, etc., there is always the opportunity to get a lot of mileage out of the opposition’s shenanigans. Posting a video of a Congressional procedure that clearly violates the rules in Congress and tramples the rights of Americans is going to be a clear example of exactly what pro gunners have been saying all along: our opponents will do anything, even if illegal, to deprive us of our rights.

    This is worse than the Contra deal, Congress did it right under our noses in open session. I hate to be the public media representative who may have been in attendence – they will be pictured as the lackey of an agenda based political party rather than a guardian of freedom, press or otherwise. They are all the same.

    There was some poor news hack there, he or his editor suppressed this, let’s name the names. It’s time to host our own Wikileaks on Congressional malfeasance.

  7. dittybopper

    OK, there is a way to get the Supreme Court involved. Try to register post 1986 machine gun. When the request is inevitably denied, file in federal court arguing that the Hughes Amendment was not passed in accordance with Congressional Rules, with the video as evidence, and therefore it isn’t in fact law. When you lose that case, keep bucking it up until you hit the Supreme Court. Has anyone contacted Alan Gura?

  8. Ajax22

    I dissagree with using the improper passage as the mechanism to challange the Hughes amendment.

    The Hughes amendment has already been found to modify the 34 NFA in a manner that is not constitutional in the 10th circuit. (the case of U.S. v Rock Island Armory)

    If you were to try to make a machine gun on a form 1 in wyoming (or other 10th circuit state) they would either have to grant you your form 1 (thereby setting up an excellent equal protection suit against the ATF for anyone who has been denied) or they would deny you, and you could appeal it all the way up the chain…

  9. James

    It’s strange that the wrongful inclusion of such a highly opposed ban was not challenged during the conference committee. I wonder which House members were on the conference committee who would have or should have noticed this item was not supported by the House vote.

  10. Redchrome

    An interesting question would be what could a state do, if some suitable legislation was introduced and passed? Apart from throwing out the ATF agents and refusing to enforce the Federal laws WRT machineguns; is there a nullification or other lever which can be used against this?

    I do not have a lot of confidence in the various Firearms Freedom Acts; and (at least the ones in NH) don’t address the federal taxing power that NFA34 operates under; so I don’t know what they might accomplish with regard to machineguns. However, I am not a lawyer and don’t really have the knowlege to generate the necessary legal creativity this may call for.

  11. 475okh

    The Hughes amendment seems similar to the Chicago and DC laws to limit the number of firearms available. Both Chicago and DC did not ban handguns they just prohibited the registration of them after a certain date. The Hughes amendment did the same thing with full auto weapons. Take the emotional issue out and you have basically the same type of legislation. We all know what happened to the Chicago and DC laws but what would happen to the Hughes amendment if challenged is anyones guess. Will not hold my breath.

  12. G3Ken

    I’m going to write a letter to my senators as well, but seeing that one of them is Chuck Schumer, I’m not holding my breath.

  13. Ajax22

    Footage is here

    this is just the highlights, full footage is uploading currently

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