Contrary to popular belief, silencers are and always have been legal to own under Federal Law. At this time, the following 39 States allow private ownership of silencers: AL, AR, AK, AZ, CO, CT, FL, GA, ID, IN, KS, KY, LA, MD, ME, MI, MS, MO, MT, ND, NE, NV, NH, NM, NC, OH, OK, OR, PA, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, WA, WI, WV, and WY.
Who can own a silencer?
Anyone who is a legal U.S. resident, 21 years of age and older, a non-felon, and lives in one of the 39 states that allow private ownership of silencers.
Why would anyone want a silencer?
A silenced firearm is eminently more enjoyable to shoot than one without a silencer. Silencers generally increase the accuracy of a host firearm while reducing recoil and eliminating up to 90% of the muzzle signature. Shooters are able to concentrate more on breath control and trigger pull when they are not subjected to the fatigue and distraction of a deafening, bright, muzzle report. Beginning shooters are typically not intimidated when introduced to the shooting sports with a silenced firearm, and are able to easily hear instructions given to them by trainers as the report of a host firearm is reduced to below the OSHA guideline level for hearing damage. Silenced firearms are also less likely to disturb any people, livestock, or wildlife that may be in close proximity to where you shoot.
What if my Chief Law Enforcement Officer (CLEO) will not sign off on my paperwork?
Silencers may also be transferred to corporations (or other legal entities such as a trust). When the paperwork to request transfer of a silencer is initiated by an officer of a corporation, a signature from local law enforcement is not required, fingerprint cards are not required, and photographs are not required. Therefore, an individual who lives in a location where the chief law enforcement officer will not sign a transfer form can still own a silencer if he or she owns a corporation. This method has downsides, since it is the corporation (and not the principal) that owns the firearm. Thus, if the corporation ever dissolves, it must transfer its silencers to the owners. This event would be considered a new transfer and would be subject to a new $200 transfer tax.
What law enforcement officials' certifications on an application to transfer a silencer are acceptable to ATF?
As provided by regulations, certifications by the local chief of police, sheriff of the county, head of the State police, or State or local district attorney or prosecutor are acceptable. The regulations also provide that certifications of other officials are appropriate if found in a particular case to be acceptable to the Director. Examples of other officials who have been accepted in specific situations include State attorneys general and judges of State courts having authority to conduct jury trials in felony cases. [27 CFR 479.63 and 479.85]
Should I register the silencer to myself, a trust, or corporation?
Look at the following chart for pro's and con's of each type of ownership:
|Corporation / LLC|