Understanding Suppressor Laws
In this article I want to dive into three things related to firearm silencers – I want to discuss suppressor laws given the current effort to pass the Hearing Protection Act, I want to answer the age-old question of ‘do silencers work’, and finally elaborate on how does a silencer work to begin with.
Suppressor laws and The National Firearms Act of 1934 (NFA) are more often than not poorly understood, and let’s not even get in to the nerdy discussion that goes something like this:
“It’s not a silencer, it’s a suppressor.“
“Well, the federal government calls it a silencer.“
Silencer vs suppressor. It’s true, according to most of the legal wording, especially in the NFA and federal definition, those things which screw on to the working end of a firearm and suppress, dampen or muffle the sound which emits from the firearm after discharge, those are called a silencer.
Suppressor laws refer to the silencing of a firearm, to whatever degree. It’s just terminology, you could also refer to it as suppressing, muffling, whatever.
Think of it as quieting a firearm. I think suppressor laws ought to be called firearm quieting laws (not really), because that term gets to the heart of the Hearing Protection Act, which we’ll cover in a bit. From here on out I’ll interchangeably refer to suppressor, silencer, whatever, just to make a point that it’s all the same.
Suppressor Laws Today
We’re affiliated with SilencerCo because they deserve the utmost respect of everyone because of their willingness to take a stand and get dirty in the fight for American liberties and freedom. I respect the hell out of them! On top of the fact that their silencers are the best!
They’re not only a leader in silencer development, but they’re at the forefront of fighting for the rights of all Americans by engaging in discussions about suppressor laws and making sure that people can shoot their firearms safely without fear of losing their hearing.
Silencers are also so much better for surrounding wildlife!
SilencerCo is a huge one-stop source for not only buying a silencer, but getting the paperwork taken care of for you. They’ll either take care of everything via one of their really cheap plans, or help you do it yourself. Either way, suppress on!
Also, they offer a FREE information course called “SuppressED: EasyGuide” which you can get for free and then learn for yourself, in detail, what it takes to get your silencer paperwork done in a snap by doing it yourself. Check out SilencerCo right here.
Part of the gun silencer price equation are processing and fees. If we eliminate needless laws we can also make suppressors even more affordable, though frankly they’re already within reach for everyone.
Silencers are legal in most states. With suppressor laws changing in 2017 and beyond, especially with President Trump in office, hopefully soon everyone will have the legal right to use one.
As it is, suppressors are heavily regulated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) but still, private citizens can legally purchase and possess silencers in 42 states without a permit.
For the following people the number of states where you can own a silencer is expanded even further: FFL dealers, manufacturers, peace officers, or member of a law enforcement agency or other government agency.
SilencerCo has a great map of suppressor laws by state, so be sure to check out their page for that. Here’s what they say about the process.
To purchase a silencer the following qualifications apply:
RESIDE IN ONE OF THE 42 STATES THAT CURRENTLY ALLOW CIVILIAN OWNERSHIP
BE A RESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES
BE LEGALLY ELIGIBLE TO PURCHASE A FIREARM
PASS A BATFE BACKGROUND CHECK
BE AT LEAST 21 YEARS OF AGE TO PURCHASE FROM A DEALER
BE AT LEAST 18 YEARS OF AGE TO PURCHASE FROM ANOTHER CITIZEN
Here’s an interview SilencerCo’s CEO Joshua Waldron had with Donal Trump Jr. (Sept. 2016) and it reflects how serious these guys are about American rights and also of course about what they do, which is make damn good silencers.
Oh, the second video is quick opinion piece of our boy Jep Robertson shooting a SilencerCo suppressor and discussing the importance of suppressors for personal safety and protection! Check out more about the Fight The Noise campaign here and get involved in the fight for your rights. #FightTheNoise
Also as it relates to suppressor laws there’s a push to challenge the federal government on its right to regulate firearm activity strictly within the confines of a state’s borders.
The Firearm Freedom Act (FFA) is gaining some traction. The movement was sparked when it was originally introduced and signed into law by the Montana Governor on April 15, 2009. The FFA declares that any firearms made and retained in-state are beyond the authority of Congress under its constitutional power to regulate commerce among the states.
The FFA has much more to do with the 10th Amendment than the 2nd. The 10th Amendment deals with the federal government’s right to regulate interstate commerce.
To find out if your state has passed the Firearm Freedom Act, and to see which ones have, check out their page here.
Also, here’s a look at which states it’s legal to own a suppressor in, as of publishing date.
SilencerCo has an updated map on their website so check it out here.
What Is A Silencer
This is the definition of a silencer contained in U.S. Code, 18 U.S.C., § 921(A)(24):
“The term “Firearm Silencer” or “Firearm Muffler” means any device for silencing, muffling, or diminishing the report of a portable firearm, including any combination of parts, designed or redesigned, and intended for the use in assembling or fabricating a firearm silencer or firearm muffler, any part intended only for use in such assembly or fabrication.”
So as we already clarified, put the discussion to bed regarding calling it a silencer, suppressor, muffler, whatever.
How Does A Silencer Work Diagram
Silencers are amazingly simple in design (OK, relatively LOL) yet one of the most common questions is how does a silencer work?
Silencers operate very simply on the principle of slowing sound waves so that they dissipate and lose their energy before they finally reach open air.
The silencers do this by using baffles or chambers to capture the escaping gases so that they more time to dissipate.
Surprisingly the idea and implementation of a firearm silencer has been around for over 100 years. Do silencers work? Damn right they do.
In 1909 American inventor Hiram Percy Maxim applied for a patent on his device as you can see in the diagram shown here on the left. How a silencer is made (the technical manufacturing aspect) may have changed a lot, but the general concept remains unchanged.
Hiram’s father was the inventor of the Maxim gun, the first recoil-operated machine gun (the first true “machine gun”) and the successful replacement for the mechanical Gatling gun.
Ironically, Hiram Maxim himself called his invention the Maxim Silencer, further shutting down nerdy argumentative types (it’s a suppressor!). Even more ironically, Maxim is also the inventor of the muffler for automobiles as we know them today, and he released them almost simultaneously with his firearm silencers. Maxim called his mufflers “automobile silencers”.
Silencers don’t and can’t reduce all of the noise from a firearm, but they’re very effective.
Here’s another diagram of a silencer from the ATF.
Here’s a great couple of videos. First up, SilencerCo will explain how a silencer works and the also discuss the three areas that a silencer can help make firearms shooting safer and more effective.
And then on deck there’s a great clip of the awesome Mythbuster crew testing a SilencerCO silencer and answering the question, do silencers work? What does the inside of a silencer look like? How loud is a gunshot with a silencer? Mythbusters will give you a glimpse of that, too.
Well yes they do, and Mythbusters prove beyond a doubt that silencers do work and work just like you see in most Hollywood movies. Though in fairness some low-budget movies portray the silencers as quieter than a butterfly fart, which of course is silly.
Conclusion – Suppressor Laws
The landscape is changing quickly and it seems that from most perspectives the tide is turning in favor of law-abiding Americans and the 2nd Amendment. Suppressor laws have already weakened even with Obama in office for 8 miserable years, so we can only expect for things to get better.
Though your safety is your responsibility so suppressor or not always use ear protection. I opt for something like these Surefire’s in addition to muffs (from Amazon), depending on what and where I’m shooting.
On the issue of common sense firearm regulation and laws, most states that haven’t yet adopted private citizen-friendly suppressor laws look to be on that path; the number of states where suppressor ownership is legal is nearing 50!
Also, the with growing number of states taking up the fight of the Firearm Freedom Act, along with a new Trump administration and a newly sworn in conservative Supreme Court justice, things truly seem to be getting back towards the sensible side.
If you haven’t already, go over to SilencerCo’s website here and check out their line up and also see how easy they make the buying process.
How do you feel about suppressor laws in general and in your state? Do you have anything to add to the discussion that I missed or got wrong? Let me know.