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Foreword/Disclaimer: I am not an expert, do not hold an FFL, and am not qualified to dispense legal advice. I am writing this to share some experience and knowledge with fellow members who may be interested in getting into NFA class III firearms and devices. If anything I write is wrong, or unclearly stated, please feel free to correct or question that which is stated here. Those questions and/or corrections will only make for a better thread/forum, and will provide more accurate info to other members.



My interest in suppressors started many years ago when I first discovered that, despite popular belief, they are in fact perfectly legal for civilians to own in most states. It took me over 15 years to actually commit to it because of many of the myths I had heard regarding ownership, what seemed like a 'whole lot' of paperwork, and the dearth of accurate and authoritative information out there (at the time) regarding the subject.

First....the myths, horror stories, and gun shop/show malarkey

"THE ATF CAN COME INTO YOUR HOUSE AT ANY TIME OF DAY OR NIGHT AND DEMAND TO INSPECT YOUR SILENCER"

That's my favorite, and I still overhear people talking about this at gun shows/shops sometimes. This is NOT true. The ATF has no more jurisdiction over suppressor owners than they do gun owners. Once you have the stamp, that's it....unless you get in trouble in some other way. But even so, it is treated the same legally as any other legally owned firearm.

For FFLs/dealers, that is a different story. I am not an FFL, and can not speak authoritatively on this subject, but I do know that the ATF can come inspect their books, etc. Maybe an FFL can come along to expound upon this some more. I can not, but to say that as a non-dealer, you are not subject to this fallacious inspection rumor. You do not waive any of your rights as a US citizen by legally owning any Class III device.

"IT'S CALLED A SUPPRESSOR, NOT A SILENCER!!!!!"

It's called both. Sound suppressor is probably a more technically accurate term for audio nerds like myself, but the original patent filed by Mr. Maxim the younger was for a 'firearm silencer'...which I suppose makes 'silencer' the more historically accurate term. Either is fine, and anyone who tries to call you out for using one over the other probably needs a hobby outside of the shooting sports. The terms are interchangeable, and both are technically accurate.


NFA DEVICES/FIREARMS

So...the National Firearms Act of 1934, the grand daddy of US gun control, began as a response to the St. Valentine's Day Massacre in Chicago. Prior to NFA1934, silencers, short barreled rifles and shotguns, and (fully) automatic weapons were perfectly legal (at the federal level) to buy at a gun and/or hardware store. No licensing, background checks, etc. were involved.

The perpetrators of the St. V-Day Massacre made use of Tommy guns, which were originally both automatic and short barreled (10"). While they were at it, the legislators figured they might as well include silencers, and all short barreled rifles (<16") and shotguns (<18").

The problem the anti-gun legislators faced, and this to me draws a very poignant comparison of how times have changed, is that they did not know how they could legally do it without infringing upon the 2nd amendment. The work around was that these weapons were not actually BANNED, per se, but instead carried a tax of $200 each. In 1934, $200 was real money...about $3500 in 2015 USD. This made it a de facto ban for all but a few who might afford such. The less said about that, the better :flute:


So it came to pass that EACH INSTANCE that would qualify a firearm as a being class III under NFA1934 required a $200 tax stamp. E.g. if you have a Winchester 1886 with a 14" barrel, it requires a $200 tax stamp (unless it's an antique and has a letter of authentication from the ATF, but that's another story). If you have a 16" AR-15 with a select-fire trigger group and no suppressor, that is a $200 tax stamp. If you have a 14" AR-15 with a select-fire trigger group and a suppressor, that is (3) $200 tax stamps (for $600 total) that you will need to legally transfer that rifle (as outfitted).

I should clarify here that the stamp is not technically for possession of class III items, but for THE TRANSFER of them. Meaning, in order for the dealer to allow you to take possession, you need to produce the tax stamp to the dealer. That said...I would recommend making copies of your stamps and keeping them with the firearm. Even with the tax stamp, or a copy of it on your person, there are still many LEO's around who do NOT know the legalities involved, and may give you a hard time anyway. Story of my life :flute:

STEPS TO LEGALLY ACQUIRE A SUPPRESSOR

From what I understand, LEOs and military personnel can acquire class III items with an agency letterhead and approval of their superiors. Done deal. For the rest of us, there is a bit more involved.

First off, at the time of this writing, there are several states that have their own state-wide restrictions on suppressors and/or class III devices. This is subject to change, so I will not bother to list them here, but there are currently either 34 or 36 states that do NOT have any such restrictions. Hunting with them is a different matter. You will need to look that up in your own state....but I digress.

There are generally 2 paths we as civilians can take to acquire a suppressor: as individuals or via a trust. There are others, but they do not apply to many folks, so I will forego them here.

ACQUISITION AS AN INDIVIDUAL

I have not done this, so my knowledge here is not first hand, but I will tell you what I know. As an individual you must submit to a background check BY the ATF (as opposed to the FBI when you buy a non-NFA gun from an FFL). I do not know if this is actually any more in-depth or stringent than the NICS check we go through when buying a gun from a dealer or for getting a CCW/CHL permit. Second, you will need to have an LEO sign off on your paperwork. This is either the chief of police in your municipality, or there is not one, the Sheriff of your county. Once all of the signatures and paperwork are filled out, you then get to submit to the ATF.

ACQUISITION VIA TRUST

The second way to acquire a suppressor is via what is known as an NFA trust. This is what I did. With a dedicated NFA trust, you as an individual are not technically the owner of the firearm, but are the grantor, and presumably a trustee, of the trust that owns the suppressor. A trust requires one grantor, one trustee (can also be the grantor), and one beneficiary (can not be the grantor). You can add and remove trustees at your pleasure. If for some reason you were going to loan out a suppressor, you would want to make the person you were loaning it to a trustee for the duration of their possession of the suppressor. And presumably remove them once it was returned. You do not need a lawyer to do this, or even to establish the trust, but there are some requirements, and it must be notarized. Additions and removal of trustees do not need to be notarized.

An added bonus to the NFA trust is that if your children are the beneficiaries, then if you die, the possessions of the trust legally become theirs. As an individual, they would need to be surrendered to LE until new tax stamps were attained for each, or destroyed.

To me, it doesn't make sense NOT to do it via trust.

ONCE YOU HAVE YOUR TRUST TOGETHER

Well...now is the hard part....Picking a suppressor. I mean, after all..even if the suppressor you want isn't that expensive, it carries an extra $200 expense with it, and is practically impossible to resell, so you better get a good one. I can't help you there, really, other than to offer opinions, and you know what they say about those.

But once you decide on one, you pay for it from a dealer, and then submit your paperwork to the ATF. The time it takes to get back can vary wildly, depending on a number of different factors. My first suppressor took about 5 months from the time I bought it to the time I picked it and the stamp up from the dealer. I will let you know how long the second one takes...but it has been a long 2 weeks, I can tell you that :)
 

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Thank you. You're about a week ahead of me on the wait.

Now there is a discrepency. If you have a registered machine gun, the barrel length does not matter because it's not a rifle, it's a machine gun. So an M16 with 14.5" barrel is just one stamp.
 
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Oh yeah? Good to know, and thanks for the correction. So the distinction is with registered machine guns? All other rifles would still need a stamp for a <16" barrel?
 

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Yes, and only if it's a registered machine gun. Some people have registered drop-in auto sears (DIAS) and those are different. Sears are convenient because you can legally switch them around to any weapon that it fits. If you have an AR-15, you can buy a RDIAS and have a select fire weapon, and while the sear is installed you can legally have a short barrel on it. But if you take the sear out to put in another weapon, then you have to remove the short barrel.
 

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Yes, and only if it's a registered machine gun. Some people have registered drop-in auto sears (DIAS) and those are different. Sears are convenient because you can legally switch them around to any weapon that it fits. If you have an AR-15, you can buy a RDIAS and have a select fire weapon, and while the sear is installed you can legally have a short barrel on it. But if you take the sear out to put in another weapon, then you have to remove the short barrel.
That humming you hear is the gears turning....
 

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That humming you hear is the gears turning....
Ha! Was thinking that same thing! Except, compared to a registered and transferable trigger group, a barrel is almost insignificant.
 

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For me the hardest part a gettin my supressors, was the dadburn wait!! That's why I got 2 different calibers at the same... To be done with it.
 
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Greg...out of curiosity, did the stamps arrive at the same time when you did that, or were they staggered? The ATF has changed the way they allocate paperwork to agents a few tomes in the last year, and feom what i understand, as of right now, forms submitted at the same time, in the same place, by the same person may not be assigned to the same agent, and this may not be approved at the same time.
 

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They both came back together... Thank goodness
 
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The OP's first post here ought to be a sticky.

Second, I went the individual route for my Class III stamp. From the time the suppressor arrived at my FFL and I filled out the paperwork, it took about 6 months to get the stamp. Fortunately I have connections and was able to get the sheriff to sign off on it. I have to carry a copy of the stamp with the suppressor at all times. No biggie.

The first thing I did was take it apart (TBA Peacemaker). Very simple guts. An average machinist could make one in a few hours or less. I shot it "locally" and noticed that holding the slide firm to the receiver with both thumbs on my Ruger Gov't Mk II significantly quieted the sound compared to allowing the bolt to recharge the action. Next up is impact comparison to unsuppressed and how it sounds with my CZ455 Varmint. We'll see.
 

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I will add that that following the law, avoiding the temptation, and paying the tax is the best 'Stay Out of Jail Card' that $200 can buy. (correct that $200 to 1934 dollars and it is quite a deal) Dot your I's, cross your T's, and enjoy your bit of the wild side. As a lawman I've seen too many otherwise law abiding citizens go down for the obligatory seven years. There, they joined the chorus of the scumbags for the same charge. AC
 

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Another thing OP forgot to mention is the stamp collector disease that is contracted on receipt of your first stamp. I got my first can about 2 years ago and Im waiting on my 7th stamp as of last week. You cant fight this addiction
 

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Another thing OP forgot to mention is the stamp collector disease that is contracted on receipt of your first stamp. I got my first can about 2 years ago and Im waiting on my 7th stamp as of last week. You cant fight this addiction
Yah...it ain't so bad right now, but I can feel it getting worse.
 

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Need to update info, as of July 13, 2016, no longer need to have LEO sign off, they only need to be notified. Also, those going the NFA Trust route, all trustees must supply finger prints and photos.
Just a bit more clarification. Only those trustees that are considered "responsible persons" are required to send in pictures and fingerprints under the new ATF 41F regulations. For most basic trusts, that means all trustees. For some trusts made by actual trust lawyers (such as the one I use) the responsible people in the trust are clearly stated and can be separate from all of the trustees and only they have to submit. For example, for my trust, only I have to submit if I use the trust. My wife and nephew, who are also on the trust do not. This has been verified by my lawyer and the ATF.
 

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This is quite interesting reading.
Over here in Norway, you can buy a supressor/silencer without problem, just go to a arms dealer or just order it by mail, when received, take your gun to your local gunsmith and he'll fix the rest. Only rule is that it's not allowed to shorten the barrel to less than 47 cm or about 18,5 inches. Besides that, just go and buy one.
Edited info: According to Norwegian law regarding rifles, the barrel can not be shorter than 400 mm ( 15,75" ) and the total length of the weapon can not be shorter than 840 mm ( 33" )
 
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