What is the Penalty for a Homemade Suppressor?
If you’ve got the DIY spirit, you may have thought about building your own suppressor at home. After all, there’s not a lot of parts involved, so it can’t be that hard, right? Well, yes … and no. A suppressor itself may be simple, but the laws governing it aren’t so simple.
The National Firearms Act (NFA) of 1934 regulates suppressors, and they’re lumped in the same regulatory category as things like sawed-off shotguns and machine guns. Because of this classification, you can absolutely make your own homemade silencer, but you’ve got to follow the rules. Failure to do so can result in big legal and financial problems.
Are Homemade Silencers Illegal?
In a word, no, homemade silencers are not illegal. However, this determination assumes that you follow all of the rules and regulations as set out by the NFA and the ATF to ensure that your homemade silencer is legal in the eyes of the government. Otherwise, a homemade silencer would be considered illegal.
It may not always seem like it, but the government really doesn’t want to punish its citizens. That’s why they’ve actually got a very well-defined and detailed process for how to stay on the up-and-up when making and registering a legal homemade silencer.
You can do most of the process online through the ATF’s eForms website, which is www.eforms.atf.gov.
What is the Penalty for an Unregistered Homemade Suppressor?
The ATF isn’t messing around when it comes to items regulated by the NFA, and as a result, the penalty for an unregistered homemade suppressor can be steep. It could result in a large fine or a prison sentence – or both.
It’s not just the weight of the federal government that could come down on you. There may also be state or local-level penalties, too, depending on where you live.
Of course, it goes without saying that a “side effect” of these penalties is that you would also become a felon. This means that you could never again own a silencer or firearm of any kind.
A Large Fine
Under federal law, you can be charged with a fine of up to $10,000 for each unregistered homemade suppressor in your possession. That is not an insubstantial sum of money, and if you thought the $200 tax stamp was bad, then this takes it to a whole other level. You could have bought 50 tax stamps for what the fine could cost you.
If the unregistered homemade silencer possession coincided with possession of drugs with intent to distribute, the fine jumps all the way up to $250,000. That’s 1,250 tax stamps!
The waiting game is a pain when it comes to getting your suppressor approved by the ATF, but it pales in comparison to the amount of time you could spend in prison for possession of an unregistered homemade suppressor. Federal law states that you can spend up to ten years in prison if you get caught and convicted.
Federal guidelines call for a minimum sentence of 27 months in prison without the possibility of parole. The maximum sentence, if the silencer possession coincided with possession of drugs with intent to distribute, is 30 years in prison without parole.
(Note: we’re not saying you’re a drug dealer. Just pointing out how harsh the government can be about two things they really, really, don’t like: drugs and NFA items.)
Illegally Importing Silencer Kits
Thanks to the internet, there are a lot of DIY silencer kits that can be purchased and turned into legal silencers when properly registered on an ATF Form 1. However, some of these kits are shipping from locations outside of the United States. This creates murky legal waters as it’s possible for you to be prosecuted for the illegal importation of a silencer, even if the DIY kit is not yet operable in its present state as a silencer.
This is not something that happens often, but it does happen – and isn’t worth the risk. Just be extra careful when making your purchases online and know ahead of time exactly where your item will be shipped from, even if the seller is based in the United States. Sometimes US-based sellers use foreign fulfillment, and that can definitely create an issue.Join Silencer Central’s Inner Circle
Homemade Silencer Law Vary by State
Even though the federal government says it’s OK to make your own suppressor so long as you follow all the rules, your state government may not. For example, silencers are legal under federal law in all 50 states, but at the time of this writing, they are only legal under state law in 42 states.
Make sure you check the laws in the state where you live and, in some cases, the local laws, too. Ignorance of the law is no excuse in the eyes of the ATF and your state and local governments.
Register your Homemade Suppressor or Face Consequences
Follow the rules or face the consequences. It may sound harsh, but it’s true.
When all is said and done, it’s actually quite easy to register a homemade silencer so that you can legally possess it and enjoy it. As long as you take your time to read the instructions carefully and fill everything out properly, it’s not hard to do at all. Thousands of people have done it, so there’s no reason you won’t be able to do it, too.
However, if your main goal of making a homemade silencer is to save money, then you might want to rethink things. Many of the DIY kits and “solvent traps” can cost hundreds of dollars in and of themselves, and that doesn’t include the $200 tax stamp. If you’re going to spend a good chunk of your hard-earned money, you might want to buy a ready-made silencer from a trusted company like Silencer Central.
We’ll walk you through the entire purchase process, handle all of the paperwork for you, set you up with a free legal trust, let you make interest-free payments while you wait for approval, and then mail your silencer right to your door once it’s been approved.
Regardless of the route you take, the takeaway is the same: shooting suppressed is a ton of fun, and after you shoot that way for the first time, you won’t want to shoot unsuppressed ever again!