Education|The Truth About Suppressors

After the horrible events of Virginia Beach  Municipal Shooting perpetrated by DeWayne Craddock, a little less than a month ago. There has been a push to ban suppressors by anti-gun advocates. The reasoning behind the ban is because anti-gun supporters believe it allows someone to cause greater harm by silencing the weapon in question. They believe the silencing of the weapon increases the lethality of an potential active shooter. Advocates hypothesize/believe that silencing of the weapon will give more time to the active shooter to kill more innocent people. They believe silencing of the weapon will be so dramatic people will not flee from the gunfire because they wouldn’t be able to distinguish that it is gunfire. 

This hypothesis/belief about suppressors is patently false and builds a narrative of misinformation to the American public. It also continues to grow the narrative that firearms are the problem instead of dealing with the nuances of violence and the lead up to its extreme use.  A lot of the information about suppressors is misinformation and myths displayed on tv and movies. The purpose of this content is to inform readers of the process on which you need to obtain and own a suppressor. 

The truth of the matter is that suppressors are not easy to acquire and are expensive to attain. It is a Federal regulated item and must go through a lengthy process through the ATF to be able acquire and legal purchase a suppressor. Below will be the steps to legal own a suppressor and infographic about suppressors from National Shooting Sports Foundation. 

The Process to Legal Own a Suppressor
Map from American Suppressor Association

As, a firearms owner you are legally allowed to own a suppressor in 42 States. States that it is legal to own a suppressor are: AL, AK, AZ, AR, CO, CT, FL, GA, ID, IN, IA, KS, KY, LA, ME, MD, MI, MN, MS, MO, MT, NE, NV, NH, NM, NC, ND, OH, OK, OR, PA, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VT, VA, WA, WV, WI, WY. So, first and foremost make sure you are capable of owning a suppressor in your state. 

Suppressors are regulated under the National Firearms Act (NFA) of 1934. The regulations of suppressors falls under the jurisdiction of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives. To legal obtain a suppressor you must:

1. Be 21 years of age to purchase a suppressor from an authorized suppressor dealer.

2. Be 18 years of age to purchase a suppressor from an individual on a Form 4 to Form 4 transfer. (Dependent on state laws)

3. Be at least 18 years of age to possess a suppressor as a beneficiary of a trust or as a member of a corporation. (Dependent on State Laws)

4. Be a resident of the United States.

5. Be legally eligible to purchase a firearm. (Which means you would need to be able pass a NICS background check) 

6. Pass a ATF background check with a typical process time of 8 to 10 months.

7. Reside in one of the 42 states that currently allows civilian ownership of suppressors.

Paperwork Involved with Purchasing a Suppressor

Forming a Trust

Before you can purchase a suppressor you must be approved and your suppressor must registered by the ATF. There are three ways to register a suppressor for purchase. 1. Register it yourself. 2. Form a Trust and register the suppressor to that trust. 3. Register as a corporation. 

Forming a Trust requires a legal document to be filed with the state. The Trust can cost anywhere between $100-500 dollar in legal fees. Included in the Trust paperwork are your fingerprints, a recent head shot photo, and notarized portions of the registration. 

Suppressor Fact: While individuals cannot let anyone use their silencer if they are not within the owner’s eyesight, trust holders can allow those listed on the trust as trustees to use the silencer. 

ATF Form 4 (Tax Stamp)

You must fill out the required ATF forms, Form 4 and 533.20 in duplicate. If you decide to register as an individual you will have to be photographed and fingerprinted. Ask your dealer about the proper forms and fingerprint cards to submit to the ATF for processing. 

After that you will have pay the transfer fee of $200 to the ATF for the Tax Stamp. In addition to this cost, your dealer will often charge a transfer fee for completing paperwork, mailing, and receiving and transferring the suppressor. 

Wait Time 

After the ATF receives all necessary paperwork and payment of fees it is about an 8-10 month processing time for a suppressor. Once the forms and paperwork is approved by the ATF. The dealer then is authorized transfer the suppressor to you via a standard form 4473 used in firearms purchases. 

Suppressor Fact: If you want to buy another suppressor you would have to do the entire process again. Except setup a trust. You would also have to pay the $200 tax stamp again for the new suppressor.

To own a suppressor is a long and lengthy endeavor and also a costly one to boot. There is no need to place a ban on suppressors or further regulation. We need continued proper enforcement of current laws in place and empower people with proper knowledge about suppressors. Only with knowledge can we win the battle of misinformation and ignorance of our laws and systems. 

Below will be an infographic by the National Shooting Sports Foundation on Suppressors.

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