Why Are Suppressors Regulated?
Suppressors (silencers) are excellent for keeping gunfire noise below levels that won’t leave you deaf. Adding a suppressor to your firearm can also improve your accuracy and shooting comfort by reducing recoil.
If suppressors are so useful and healthy, shouldn’t you be able to own one legally? You should, but sadly, not everyone thinks so.
Why Are Silencers Illegal?
Federal suppressor laws state that buying, owning, and using a suppressor (or silencer) is legal, and you do not need a special permit to get one. However, the National Firearms Act of 1934 provides a clear guideline that everyone must follow to procure a suppressor. Failure to follow this guideline will amount to a criminal offense.
The process laid down in the guideline includes submitting a filled ATF Form 4 to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF). You can submit the form electronically or via post, but the electronic form gets processed faster. Alongside the form, you must pay a $200 tax and pass a fingerprint-based background check.
Once the ATF approves your application, you can look forward to taking possession of your purchased suppressor. However, federal law is not the only law governing the purchase of suppressors. State law also applies, and some states, specifically New York, New Jersey, California, Hawaii, Rhode Island, Illinois, Massachusetts, and Delaware, prohibit the purchase, transfer, ownership, and use of suppressors.
Do Existing Silencer Regulations Make Sense in Today’s Context?
Existing federal silencer regulations allow most people to buy and own suppressors, but citizens could benefit more if the law is more accommodating. For instance, the $200 tax stamp needed to buy a suppressor puts the accessory beyond the budget of most gun owners. Also, the long application and approval process makes buying a suppressor off-putting for many people.
The current suppressor regulations provided by the 1934 National Firearms Act aimed to curb mob violence and the growing use of machine guns, sawed-off shotguns, and other modified firearms. While the law is still effective for controlling the abuse of suppressors, it can do with a few updates to match the needs of modern-day Americans.
For example, many people now understand that frequent exposure to gunfire noise causes hearing damage. If suppressor regulations were friendlier, more people, especially hunters and competitive shooters, could invest in suppressors to muffle gunfire and protect their hearing health.
Are Silencers Commonly Used in Crimes?
According to several studies and statistics, no. A 1995 to 2005 study showed that only 153 federal prosecutions within those ten years involved a crime committed with a silencer. More than 80% of those crimes were non-violent and victimless crimes, while only 2% of the cases involved firing a suppressed firearm. Another study involving California cases between 2000 and 2005 showed similar results.
The ATF has also published reports that prove criminals rarely use suppressors. Between 2012 and 2015, authorities recovered over 600,000 pistols but only 390 suppressors from crime scenes that required an ATF trace. These figures indicate that most criminals do not care about using suppressors to perpetrate crimes.
Is It Legal to Hunt with Silencers?
Under federal law, hunting with a suppressor is 100% legal. However, not every state permits hunting with a suppressed firearm. New York, New Jersey, California, Hawaii, Rhode Island, Illinois, Massachusetts, and Delaware completely ban the use and ownership of silencers. Among the other 42 states that allow silencers, Connecticut and Vermont do not allow suppressors for hunting.
Silencer Legality by State
As long as you live in a state that allows suppressors, you can legally buy, own, and use one. However, since every state has unique laws regarding suppressor usage, you must verify your state’s law regarding what you can and cannot do with a silencer. For example, you can own a suppressor in Connecticut, but you cannot hunt with one. Hawaii law, on the other hand, permits only state and federal law enforcement officers to use suppressors.
If your state permits suppressors, and you plan on traveling to another state with your firearm, make sure the laws at your destination permit suppressors. Also, travel with copies of your suppressor paperwork and silencer tax stamp so you can prove legal ownership if law enforcement stops you.
How to Purchase a Silencer
If suppressors are legal in your state, you can buy one at your local gun store or opt for online shopping, which is more convenient. At Silencer Central, we make buying a suppressor online hassle-free and enjoyable. You only need to browse the various options we have in stock and pick the right one for your budget, firearm, and goals.
After selecting a product, pay the price and a $200 tax stamp. With our eZ-Pay plan, you can spread your payment over three months. If you like, we can handle the government-mandated paperwork on your behalf and deliver your purchase to your doorstep once the ATF approves your eForm 4. We deliver to customers in the 42 states that permit the use of suppressors.
If you need help finding the perfect suppressor, give us a call. Our team of friendly experts is available to provide all the information you need to make the best purchase.
What if I want to make my own silencer?
The penalty for making a homemade suppressor without submitting the necessary forms and getting approval includes fines and possible jail time. The fine can be up to $10,000 for each suppressor you made, and jail time could be up to ten years.
Want to Learn More?
If you want to learn more about hunting suppressed, suppressor laws, and buying suppressors, head to our highly informative resource page. You can also contact us via phone or our online contact form to ask questions or have an expert assist you with buying the perfect suppressor.
Do you already know the suppressor you want? If so, you won’t have trouble finding it at our store. We have in stock various sizes, colors, and styles of suppressors for different firearms and calibers. Head to our store today to browse our suppressors and place an order to have your pick sent to your doorstep.