By Mike Schoby
When I grew up the thought of owning a suppressor was unheard of. It was never illegal, but the regulatory hoops involved were simply too daunting for most to navigate. Stemming from NFA regulations of 1934, the process of owning a suppressor–much like a machinegun–was never outlawed despite common perception. Rather, silencers were simply taxed out of the reach of the “unwashed masses.”
In 1934 the $200 tax stamp required to own a suppressor represented a significant investment—roughly $4,000 in today’s money. Well today, $200 bucks represents a good meal for two or what AOC would like to raise the minimum hourly wage to if given the chance. The good news is, the federal government isn’t anything if it isn’t inept, and for that we should be thankful. It’s been nearly 90 years since the regulatory tax stamp mandate was passed, and there hasn’t been an adjustment for inflation, so the cost to own a suppressor is no longer much of a barrier to entry.
While the money may not be a problem, the inconvenience still is–or I should say–was.
When I bought my first suppressor nearly a decade ago, finding a Class III dealer (often different from your local gun shop/FFL holder) was difficult. Then you had to go there, order the suppressor, pay for it, pay for their service of processing it, fill out the federal paperwork in triplicate by hand in ink–all the while praying you didn’t fuck up. Then you had to go get official passport-style photos taken—I believe 6 of them were needed (two per copy) then as a final step you had to make an arrangement with your local police department to take your fingerprints. Then you had to snail-mail it all to the FBI and hope it didn’t get lost. Plenty did.
Fingerprinting varied wildly depending upon where you lived. In much of Montana it wasn’t a huge deal—just pop into the local PD any day of the week and someone would help you often for free…thankfully rural locations still have a “serve and protect” mentality. Other (read: liberal) jurisdictions made it a pain in the ass. You know, like, “We only fingerprint one day a month and you have to make an appointment and the appointment wait list is months long.” (Read: more draconian measures in a veiled attempt to discourage legal activities by citizens.)
Enter Silencer Central.
Brandon Maddox, owner of Silencer Central, has spent a pile of money with lawyers since 2005 figuring out exactly what the NFA says, requires and how best for citizens to legally do what they want to do.
The process he coined is simple: Jump on SilencerCentral.com, buy a suppressor, (one of theirs or a competitor’s), and a personal assistant from Silencer Central takes over. This person will get your particulars, set up a trust, fill out the federal paperwork and send you an ink pad and fingerprint card. Fingerprint yourself, take a selfie with your iPhone, e-sign the documents and you’re done.
Now start waiting. Yea, the purposeful (in my opinion) slowdown of the feds is the one thing Silencer Central can’t fix. Wait an undetermined amount of time, generally 9-12 months for traditional paperwork, or as little as a couple of months with the new e-file system and (assuming you’re not a felon) a nice delivery person will ring your doorbell and hand you a box with a suppressor, your paperwork and a tax stamp inside. It’s that simple.
I say this to my friends who haven’t bought a suppressor yet: “The time is going to pass one way or another, so at the end of next year, do you want to have a suppressor or not?”
If so, I’d suggest going to SilencerCentral.com now and get the process started. The barriers to entry have never been this low.