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Can U.S. civilians lawfully obtain a fully automatic gun (aka machine gun) without a federal background check?

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Federal law bans civilians from possessing any machine gun except for those lawfully owned before May 19, 1986. Machine guns that were owned before this date can be sold or transferred, but only with a comprehensive federal background check. There is confusion about this issue because politicians, journalists, and commentators sometimes conflate semi-automatic guns with machine guns.

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