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According to the BATFE, as of April 2017 there are 1,360,023 registered silencers in the USA!
That's about a 377% increase in the number of silencers since 2010 (in Dec 2010 there were 285,087 registered silencers!
Texas has the most registered silencers with 242,859 silencers as of 04/2107. Florida is the next highest with 85,998. Interestingly, California has 15,044 registered silencers even though they are currently unlawful to own in that state.
Did you know that owning a suppressor is legal in most states and does not require any special licenses?
A silencer or suppressor buy is allowed under the National Firearms Act (NFA). They are considered a Title II (Class III) item and their purchase is protected by the Second Amendment. In fact, before the NFA passed (early 1900s), it was very common for most families, especially in the East, to own a suppressor. It was likely a Maxim and cost around $5.00.
If you live in any of these states you can own a silencer/suppressor:
AL, AR, AK, AZ, CO, CT, FL, GA, IA, ID, IN, KS, KY, LA, ME, MD, MI, MN, MO, MS, MT, ND, NE, NV, NH, NM, NC, OH, OK, OR, PA, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, VT, WA, WI, WV, and WY. (Even if your state is listed, always be sure to double check as we are not able to offer legal advice).
Unfortunately, if you live in California (CA), Delaware (DE), Hawaii (HI), Illinois (IL), Massachusetts (MA), New Jersey (NJ), New York (NY), Rhode Island (RI), or Washington, DC, their state laws do not allow private ownership of silencers. However, some of these states do allow properly licensed dealers to possess them.
Benefits of owning a silencer:
The primary function of a silencer is to reduce the sound made when a firearm is discharged. It protects shooters and anyone nearby from the long term effects of gunshot noise. It does this by trapping the rapidly expanding hot exhaust gases, allowing them to cool and slow their expansion which greatly reduces their pressure. As a result of this reduced gas pressure, the escaping gasses exit the barrel with very little sound. This reduces the sound level of the firearm discharge. This function is similar to the way a car's muffler operates.
Per OSHA rules, the threshold for a hearing safe noise impulse is 140 decibels (dB). Without hearing protection, exposure to any noise over 140dB causes varying degrees of permanent noise induced hearing loss. A well-engineered silencer will lower the sound level of the firearm below 140 dB, making these silencers an effective primary hearing safety device.
Attach hearing protection to your barrel not your head!
A common issue for shooters is decreased accuracy caused by anticipatory flinching of the firearm's loud discharge and recoil. By containing the firearm's discharge at the muzzle, recoil, sound and muzzle flip are reduced (sometimes dramatically). As a result, the shooter can experience increased accuracy especially with inexperienced shooters.
Improved hunting experience
In the states that allow silencers for hunting, there are additional benefits besides the obvious hearing protection. Because the silencer reduces recoil and muzzle rise, the shooter is able to more quickly get into position for a follow-up shot, if needed, due to reduced movement and the shooter's sights remain closer to the original target. This reduces missed 2nd shot opportunities and can potentially reduce the inhumane occurrence of non-mortally wounded game escaping.
As a result of this decrease in sound (dB) levels, the use of silencers also increases situational awareness, allows for easier communication and reduces the chance of an accident due to unheard warnings or commands. AKA maintain normal voice communication.
Ambient noise abatement
Shooting with a silencer is a great way to reduce the ambient outdoor noise created by discharging a firearm. A silencer reduces the three signatures of gunshots- muzzle flash, sound and environmental disturbance. This will result in reduced molestation to those who are nearby, but not directly involved, such as those who live near an outdoor shooting range. Its a fun way to be kind to our neighbors and improve our relations with others and it helps make outdoor ranges 'better neighbors'.
Preserve Night Vision
Muzzle flash is minimized thus preserving night vision. This also reduces or eliminates night vision gear 'Blooming'.
We can't forget about fun. I think it just makes shooting more enjoyable and it becomes a new toy for firearm enthusiasts to play with and collect. Once you enjoy shooting suppressed you begin to be annoyed by all the other shooters who insist on shooting loudly. When Maxim first started marketing suppressors to firearm enthusiasts back in the 1920s he promoted quiet shooting as fun for family members both young and old. In fact, some of his marketing literature showed a man firing a silenced rifle into a bullet trap inside his home.
What a silencer is not:
This is a very important distinction to note. Unfortunately, Hollywood has created this idea that a silencer makes a firearm 'silent'. This is simply not true. In fact, in terms of function, it is not a silencer. Though the proper name per the Gun Control Act is a 'Silencer' it really is a sound suppressor (suppressor is a commonly used name).
A silencer reduces firearm discharge noise to a hearing safe level. In some cases, especially with small calibers like .22LR, the firearm can be made very quiet. However, it is still not silent. As I mentioned before, it really does act as a firearm sound 'muffler'. Akin to a muffler on an automobile, an automobile muffler reduces (suppresses) the noise to hearing safe levels but does not make an automobile silent. It is important to clarify this VERY COMMON misconception.
Quieter- Yes, Silent- No.
You can own a silencer if:
- You are at least 21 years of age to buy from a dealer.
- Are at least 18 years of age to buy from an individual on a Form 4 transfer (state laws vary).
- Are at least 18 years of age to possess one as a beneficiary of a trust or as a member of a corporation (state laws vary).
- Are a resident of the USA.
- Live in a state that allows ownership.
- Do not have any felony convictions (or other disqualifiers).
- Pay a one-time $200 Transfer Tax.
- Pass a BATFE background check with a typical process time of 120-180 days.
Do you waive your rights if you own a silencer?
Absolutely not! There is an incorrect rumor that owning a silencer forfeits your rights and opens your home to an unannounced BATFE visit. This is simply not true.
We believe it started as the result of an erroneous belief that you have to be a licensed dealer to own a silencer, and a licensed dealer, (such as us) can be visited by the BATFE for any reason which is completely normal.
You DO NOT need any special licenses and CANNOT be visited by the BATFE just because you (or your trust or your corporation) own a silencer! In fact, your ownership privacy is protected under US Tax Code and only people legally allowed to see your tax return can find out you own a silencer.
How long does it take to get a silencer?
As a result of the massively high volume of NFA transfers (in 2016 the BATFE NFA branch processed 2,530,209 forms) and limited BATFE staff it can take as long as twelve months to obtain approval for the transfer. However, the process usually takes between four and nine months (longer for trusts and corporations).
As dealers, we typically have to wait one day to three months to get items transferred to us from the manufacturers. It's just how it is.
People use wait time as an excuse on a regular basis. Don’t use that excuse to not buy a silencer from us! Just get started, and before you know it, you will have your first unit. It's well worth the wait!
The process of silencer ownership is quite simple:
For purchases in Michigan, you choose the silencer you want (we help with that process), you then buy it, we work together on the paperwork and then we submit the paperwork (form 5320.4 AKA Form 4) and the $200 transfer tax to the BATFE. Once approved, you simply return to us and pick it up (You do have to submit a BATFE form 4473 at the time of pickup, but no background check as this was already done by the BATFE).
For purchases outside the state of Michigan, the process is slightly different. We help you pick it out and you buy it, but we then submit paperwork to the BATFE to transfer it to a dealer in your state and then they process the BATFE paperwork (Form 4) and submit it to the BATFE on your behalf. Once approved, you pick it up from them (and submit a form 4473).
You can register your silencer as an individual, a trust or a corporation and each option has positives and negatives:
The simplest option would be to register as an individual. This is the lowest cost option for silencer registration. In this case, you are required to submit fingerprints, a photo and send your Chief local law enforcement (CLEO) a copy of your forms. The big drawback with this option is you have to be with your silencer at all times when it is in use as well as be the only person with access to where it is stored.
For example, if you accidentally left the silencer in your friend’s truck and he drove off you both would be technically in violation of NFA rules or if you keep your silencer locked up at home but your wife or children have access to the key or lock combination, you are potentially in violation of NFA rules.
A trust is, in our opinion and that of many others, the best solution for silencer ownership (or Short Barreled Rifles, AOW or Machine Guns too). A reasonably priced trust can be easily and quickly created by a local attorney with expertise in NFA trusts. Though there are online options as low as $99, it is our opinion that utilizing a local attorney experienced with NFA Gun Trusts is the best idea. Some states will invalidate your online $99 trust and, if this happens, you will then be in possession of unlawfully registered NFA items. This is a very bad thing. Be sure to do your homework and verify that the attorney you use has experience with the rules in your state. Go local on these and pay the few extra dollars for peace of mind and legal safety.
A trust also allows you to add anyone who might want to use your NFA items (or might want to store it/them for you) to the trust (they must be legally able to possess them). In this case, anyone listed on the trust can legally have possession of the silencer. As a bonus, you can also setup some trusts to automatically 'pass' the silencer to future generations and they do not have to pay a $200 transfer tax again.
Due to recent NFA rule changes, this option has become a bit more complicated, and now every listed trustee has to submit to a FBI background check which includes submitting fingerprints and a photograph at the time of BATFE paperwork submission.
A corporation has basically the same benefits as a trust. If you already have a corporation and plan to keep it active, you can go that route. Any officer of the corporation can have access to the silencer. The same e-file system that is available to trusts is available to corporations. Be aware that the cost of maintaining a corporation is much higher than a trust.
Due to recent NFA rule changes, this option has become a bit more complicated, and at the very least, all listed officers have to submit to a FBI background check which includes submitting fingerprints and a photograph at the time of BATFE paperwork submission.
*No matter what form of ownership you choose always seek a legal opinion from a licensed attorney in your state. As we cannot evaluate the validity of Trust or Corporation documents, we are unable to give opinions on specific Trusts or Corporation services and all transfers to a Trust or Corporation must be completed, in-person, by the original purchaser.
As you can see, owning a silencer/suppressor is actually easy and there is no excuse for you not to go for it. The only drawback to ownership that I can come up with is the waiting time for the processing of the BATFE paperwork.
Once you experience shooting with silenced firearms you won't go back. Its a real joy to be able to shoot without hearing protection, have conversations with friends and also make much less noise pollution.
Let’s pick a silencer out for you and start the process today!
You can read more here.