Suppressors are often associated negatively with assassins and murder and are therefore misunderstood. There have been many questions regarding gun suppressors out there, so to make it easy this article will cover all the main questions including legality, tax stamps, purchasing, and benefits.
The simple answer? Yes, suppressors are legal to own in many states including: AL, AK, AZ, AR, CO, CT, FL, GA, ID, IN, KS, KY, LA, ME, MD, MI, MS, MO, MT, NE, NV, NH, NM, NC, ND, OH, OK, OR, PA, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, WA, WV, WI, and WY. Regulated under the National Firearms Act (NFA), suppressors (also known as silencers) are considered title II weapons. The National Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) defines a firearm silencer as “Any device for silencing, muffling, or diminishing the report of a portable firearm, including any combination of parts, designed or redesigned, and intended for the use in assembling or fabricating a firearm silencer or firearm muffler, any part intended only for use in such assembly or fabrication.” The catch? Because it is a NFA weapon, a tax stamp must be obtained in order to legally purchase the item.
*It is still important to verify that is it legal to own a suppressor with the state and county you live in.
In order to legally purchase a suppressor, you need to get an NFA tax stamp. An individual tax stamp is necessary for every suppressor you buy. There are three ways in which to go about getting a NFA tax stamp including: registering individually with your own name, registering through a gun trust, or registering through a corporation. All have advantages and disadvantages with differing processes. A brief account of each can be found below.
Registering individually is best for people who don’t plan on buying multiple NFA weapons, and plan to be present when the suppressor is in use. The main advantage is that you can skip the initial setup necessary for a trust or corporation. The main disadvantages are that you are the only legal person to be in possession of the suppressor, and it requires a Chief Law Enforcement Officer signature, fingerprint cards, and recent photos to be submitted.
*For a more in depth look at obtaining a tax stamp as an individual click here.
Registering as a trust
Trusts are good for people who want to share possession of the NFA weapon, and who are planning on making multiple NFA purchases. Some advantages of using a trust are that you can add trustees and beneficiaries who will legally take ownership of the suppressor if something happens to you and you can bypass the need for the CLEO, fingerprint cards, and photos for each purchase. The main disadvantage is the initial time and cost of setting up the trust and in some states you may need to register the trust to the state.
Registering as a corporation
Registering the suppressor to a corporation is best for a person who already owns a corporation and wants the corporation to be the “owner” of the suppressor. Like the trust, it is also good for people who are planning on making multiple NFA purchases. Similar to a trust, a main advantage is that there is no need for the CLEO, fingerprints, and photos. Also, a corporation allows any officer of that corporation to have possession of the suppressor, and you can avoid the initial set up time and money that a trust requires. The main disadvantage is that you need to keep the corporation in good standing which may require more work than a trust.
While shopping, keep in mind exactly what you want in a suppressor since you can’t just return the item after you have purchased it. Think about the threading, metal composition, and ammo before making your decision. Some basic rules and regulations that you need to abide by when purchasing a suppressor include:
- Must be 21 years of age to purchase a suppressor from a dealer or 18 to purchase from an individual (form 4 transfer)
- Must be a citizen of the United States
- Must be a resident of the state the suppressor is purchased in
- Cannot be a felon
Many people think that suppressors are used strictly to muffle the sound of a firearm, but there are other benefits to using a suppressor. The attached suppressor will also reduce recoil and muzzle rise allowing for a quicker, more accurate second shot because there is less movement. This increased accuracy, has benefits to hunters, law enforcement and other shooters who intend to hit a moving target (or any target really).
For those of you wanting to start the process of buying a suppressor use this article as a reference. For more in depth information I would advise you to contact the ATF.