Are Suppressors an NFA Item?
Yes, suppressors (or silencers) are NFA items. Since suppressors are NFA items, you can’t walk into a store, buy one, and leave with it immediately. Instead, you must pay a $200 federal tax stamp, request ATF approval to own a silencer and undergo a background check. The approval process takes several months, but in the end and barring errors in your application, you will become a proud suppressor owner.
Understanding the National Firearms Act (NFA) and its Regulations of Suppressors
The federal government first enacted the National Firearms Act in 1934. The law regulates the ownership, transfer, and manufacture of suppressors and specific firearms, such as fully automatic weapons. Buying such NFA items requires paying a federal tax stamp and seeking approval from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF).
You must get a tax stamp for each NFA item you want to buy. So, if you want five suppressors, you must pay the federal tax stamp and get ATF approval five times. The government’s logic behind passing the law was making NFA items harder to buy and more expensive would reduce their use in criminal activities.
Owning a suppressor without paying the tax stamp or getting ATF approval counts as a federal offense. If you break the law, legal consequences may include fines of up to $250,000 and up to ten years in federal prison.
How to Buy NFA Items, Such as Suppressors
You now have an answer to are suppressors an NFA item, but how do you get one? You have to follow a specific process to buy an NFA item. Incorrectly going about the process can delay or frustrate getting approval to purchase an NFA item. For example, if you want to buy a suppressor, follow these steps:
1. Confirm Suppressors Are Legal in Your State
For now, only 42 states in the U.S. permit buying and owning suppressors. Check if your state permits silencers with our State Suppressor Legality and Ownership Map. Also, note that buying a silencer in a pro-suppressor state and taking it to an anti-suppressor state could count as a criminal offense. For instance, possessing a silencer in Illinois can attract fines and jail time of up to five years.
2. Pick a Suppressor
If your state permits suppressors, browse available suppressors to find one that matches your firearm and shooting needs. At Silencer Central, we offer suppressors for various calibers and firearm types, including shotguns, pistols, and rifles. You can even call or email us to speak with an expert who can guide you toward the perfect suppressor.
3. Buy Your Tax Stamp
After selecting a suppressor at Silencer Central and adding it to your cart, pay for your ATF tax stamp. Remember that you need a tax stamp for each suppressor you want. The tax stamp costs $200, and its price is non-negotiable and non-refundable. Even if you don’t intend on buying a suppressor today, you can buy a tax stamp now and hang on to it until you are ready to buy a suppressor.
4. Start Your Paperwork
Once you have your federal tax stamp, you can start your ATF paperwork to legalize your suppressor purchase. The paperwork includes a filled ATF Form 4, your fingerprints, and a passport-style photograph.
Silencer Central can make your life easier by processing your ATF paperwork on your behalf. You only need to mail us your passport photograph and filled fingerprint form. We will digitize the information and send it to the ATF alongside a completed eForm 4.
If you prefer, we can fill and submit a physical Form 4, but eForm 4 typically has a shorter wait time. Waiting times for an eForm 4 application is about a year. You cannot take possession of your suppressor until the wait time has passed and the ATF has approved your application.
5. Use eZ-Pay While You Wait
If you cannot afford to pay for your suppressor and tax stamp outright, take advantage of Silencer Central’s eZ-Pay plan. With eZ-Pay, you can spread your suppressor and tax stamp payment over three months.
While paying off with eZ-Pay, you can start your paperwork to prevent extending your wait time. Once the NFA approves your application, we will ship your purchased suppressor to your doorstep. Note that doorstep delivery is only available to customers in states that permit silencer ownership.
Will the NFA Be Repealed?
While there are several ongoing attempts to repeal the NFA, it is unlikely the government will soon repeal the law. Why? Firstly, tax stamps for NFA items generate lots of revenue for the federal government. The government will unlikely let go of such a fruitful revenue stream.
Secondly, recent spikes in gun violence in the U.S. make the federal government hesitant about removing one of the few laws curtailing firearm use and ownership. However, the government might repeal parts of the NFA in the near future, specifically the part that classifies suppressors as firearms. If the National Firearms Act no longer classifies suppressors as firearms, you can say goodbye to tax stamps and long wait times to buy suppressors.
Other Examples of NFA Items
Besides suppressors, other firearms and weapons covered by the NFA include:
- Shotguns with barrels under 18 inches in length
- Rifles with barrels under 16 inches in length
- Rifles and shotguns with a total length of 26 inches
- Machine guns (fully automatic firearms)
- Destructive devices (explosives and the like)
Don’t Add Any Wait Time… Start Your Suppressor Buying Process Today!
ATF waiting times will not get shorter any time soon. Reduce how long it will take to get your suppressor into your hands by starting your suppressor purchase today. It’s easy! Head over to Silencer Central, browse our suppressors, pick your favorite ones, pay, and we’ll take care of the rest.