What is the process for owning a silence

Discussion in 'NFA Firearms & Related Items' started by hogger129, Mar 26, 2011.

  1. hogger129

    hogger129 Active Member

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    Just wondering what all one has to do in order to legally own a silencer.
  2. Alpo

    Alpo Well-Known Member

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    First, you gotta live somewhere they are allowed. They are not legal in all states, but they are in most of them.

    Second, find the silencer you want.

    Third, pay for the silencer. You see, once the paperwork comes back saying you own the item, then it is illegal for the previous owner to have it. He must turn it over to you, whether you have paid for it or not. If he waits for the paper to come back before you pay, you can legally take it without paying for it. So nobody is going to start doing any paperwork until you have completely paid for the item.

    Fourth, fill out the transfer form and get it signed off by the Chief Law Enforcement Officer (also called the CLEO) where you live. This could be the Sheriff, the Chief of Police, the District Attorney. Once the CLEO has signed off on it, you send the form (two copies of the form, actually), two pictures, two sets of fingerprints (on ATF print cards) a copy of the form that says you are a citizen and a check for 200 bucks to the ATF. Not sure where. Used to be in Chicago, but I think it's in DC now.

    Fifth, wait. My shortest wait time on an NFA item was 6 weeks (with Bush in office). My longest was 13 months (with Clinton in office). You wait.

    Eventually you will get a response. Either "yes he can have it" or "no, he can't". Whatever the response is, you don't get your 200 back. They turn you down - too bad, so sad.

    Also, if they turn you down, there is a real good chance that the seller won't give you your money back. If you're buying from a dealer, me may, or he may just hold it (it's registered to him) and try to sell it for you. If he can't get as much for it this time as you paid for it the first time, then you're out of luck. He will probably take a commission on it whatever he gets for it.

    So it will do your pocketbook good to make sure you have a squeaky clean record before attempting to transfer NFA stuff.
  3. WABob

    WABob Former Guest

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    The address to send the forms to is on the top of the ATF form 4. I normally order ATF forms from this website; http://www.atf.gov/forms/firearms/ The ATF form 4 is not on it now, it is probably being revised, again. You can order the forms here free of charge. http://www.atf.gov/forms/dcof/ You will also need to order two fingerprint cards. Form 5330.20 is here. http://www.atf.gov/forms/download/atf-f-5330-20.pdf

    If you live in AL, AR, AK, AZ, CO, CT, FL, GA, ID, IN, KS, KY, LA, ME, MD, MO (with C&R), MS, MT, NE, NV, NH, NM, NC, ND, OH, OK, OR, PA, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, WA, WV, WI or WY and can pass the NICS background check, then you can expect the ATF to approve any AFT form 4 you send in as long as it is filled out correctly. Check your local laws, some state require registration, in TX silencers are technically illegal but registration is an affirmative defence to prosecution (but not arrest). I read that WI requires that the local sheriff inspect your home before he signs, but I have not actually looked up the law on this yet. Sounds like BS to me, but is it best to read the law first. Asking your local sheriff is probably not a good idea as some of them are just going to tell you that silencers are illegal in the USA.

    If the tax stamp application is not approved for any reason, the ATF will refund your money. As far as I know they are not allowed to keep money sent in for stamps not issued. I can post a link to the law if you need it.

    Many people use a trust to own their title 2 firearms. This eliminates the requirement for the sheriff's signature and the fingerprint cards. I used Quicken Willmaker to crate my trust. Some people spend $300-600 bucks to get a lawyer to print one out for them. You can even used a shared trust so that more than one person (the trustees) can own the silencer even if theya re in different states.

    Some people (like me) make their own silencers on the ATF form 1, same $200 tax, but only about $20-60 in material costs. But you need access to a lathe to make a decent silencer. It takes the ATF 2-6 months to approve my forms.
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2011
  4. Alpo

    Alpo Well-Known Member

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    >If the tax stamp application is not approved for any reason, the ATF will refund your money. As far as I know they are not allowed to keep money sent in for stamps not issued. I can post a link to the law if you need it.<

    I will defer to you on that one. I never had one turned down, but that is what my dealer told me. 'Course, since he is the one that always sent in the check (and just added the 200 to the cost of the gun) could be that if anyone did get turned down, he'd just keep that 200 and tell 'em ATF didn't return it.
  5. WABob

    WABob Former Guest

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    The US code is very dry when reading, but can be very illuminating. http://www.atf.gov/regulations-rulings/laws/ I stumbled upon it a while back when looking up something else. A person needs to be a nerd's nerd to read this crap. :)

    Here is the part about refunds.
    Refunds are not automatic and when buying a silencer from a dealer, it is a good idea to agree on what happens if the transfer is not able to be completed just as when buying anything that can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars. I have only used the ATF form 1 (to make a firearm) when applying for a tax stamp, never the form 4. The process is a little bit different than the form 4. But in my opinion as long as you can pass the NICS check and live in one of the 37 states that allow them, the approval process is practially a rubber stamp.
  6. Alpo

    Alpo Well-Known Member

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    My dealer had a guy looking for a MAC. Found him one and bought it (about a grand back then) and paid the 200 to transfer it to him (1200 now invested). Sold it to the customer for 1500 plus another 200 for that transfer. Transfer refused. Customer was a convicted felon. So, there he was. Stuck. Couldn't give the customer the machinegun. WASN'T gonna give the customer his money back. Customer went to jail (convicted felon trying to buy a gun) and the MAC sat in the shop for a couple of years before it was finally sold. I presume the sale price was passed on to the customer, but I'm sure it was not no 1700.

    The one gun I bought in a private sale - not going through a dealer - I wrote the bill of sale. In it I put that, if for any reason at all the Feds declined the transfer, I got the entire 12K back.
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