Can any U.S. civilian legally obtain a fully automatic firearm (a.k.a. machine gun) without an expansive federal background check?
Federal law has "strictly regulated" machine guns since 1934 and has banned all civilians from possessing any machine gun except for those legally owned before May 19, 1986. Machine guns that were owned before this date can be sold or transferred, but only with an expansive federal background check. Confusion about this issue has arisen because politicians and media outlets have misrepresented semi-automatic firearms as fully-automatic machine guns.