There’s likely never going to be a better time than the present to buy a suppressor. The ATF has finally moved the process for buying a suppressor into this century with online eForms that now support electronic Form 4’s (Form 4 is the ATF name for the application you use to transfer a suppressor, pay the tax, and register). This will substantially cut the time required to purchase and possess a suppressor or silencer.
Traditionally, after purchasing a suppressor, the buyer mailed a paper Form 4 to the ATF. The old paper process is taking from 9-14 months. You could literally join a dating app, meet a woman or man, date, and have a baby faster than the Federal gov’t could approve you to own a suppressor. Imagine stacks and stacks and stacks of paper in the form of fingerprint cards, trusts, corporate documents, passport photos, checks, and Form 4 applications in a disorganized pile on a government bureaucrat’s desk. To be more exact, 200,000ish applications sitting on 25-35 desks. You sent papers in and they had to enter all of it into a computer. It’s no wonder that they were so behind. That’s how the application process worked up until just a couple of weeks ago.
What changed? The application process (Form 4) was moved to a computerized cloud-based eForm system. There are several things that speed the process up, including no more U.S. Mail going back and forth. The biggest factor is that you digitally input all the information, saving the ATF from doing the data entry. Essentially, as soon as your application is in, the approval process can begin.
If you buy a suppressor now using the new eForms system, you’ll jump in front of the thousands of paper applications still sitting at the ATF waiting to be processed. The ATF believes that electronic Form 4’s will eventually be processed in as little as 30-90 days.
Is 30 days or less actually possible? Yep. The ATF has been accepting eForm, Form 1 applications (the name of the application you use to make and transfer your own suppressor or make an SBR) via their slow and crappy website for several years. We had several writers here at GunsAmerica get eForm, Form 1’s approved in as little as 12 days in just the last few months. The longest one took was 33 days, so 30 days is certainly possible. Regardless of whether it takes 12 days or 87 days, the sooner you apply, the sooner you’ll get to reap the benefits of having a suppressor.
There are several options available for using the new eForm system to buy a suppressor.
Buy a suppressor online from your house. I’m currently in the process of buying a suppressor online through Silencer Central. Silencer Central is a dealer for most major brands of suppressors. Silencer Central will set you up with a Gun Trust (included in the price of the suppressor), they manage the entire eForm application process, and then once approved they deliver the suppressor to your doorstep. They also have an eZ Pay plan option where you can make payments if that’s easier for you. I’ll be reporting back on how this process went for me, but so far it’s been incredibly easy because they do all the hard stuff. If you prefer doing stuff face-to-face, they also often have booths at outdoor trade shows where they can get all of your stuff done while you’re there. I believe they’ll be at SCI (Safari Club International) in Las Vegas next week.
- Find a local dealer that has the suppressor you want in stock. Generally, you can’t do this in your underwear.
- Pay for the suppressor.
- Find a lawyer that understands the ATF and pay him to create you a gun trust. They’re state-specific. Make sure it’s legit. If it’s not you could be illegally in possession of an NFA item that carries up to 20 years in prison.
- Register on the ATF’s eForm website. The register button is at the bottom of the page. They’ll assign you a Username (it will come in an email). You create a password and PIN.
- Fill out the electronic version of the Form 4 using the eForms website.
- Go have a passport-style photo taken.
- Visit the State Police or your local jail and have them take your fingerprints.
- Mail the fingerprints into the ATF or upload them on the website.
- Upload your photo to the eForms website.
- Upload your trust into the eForms website.
- Add Responsible persons and their photos and fingerprints.
- Pay the ATF $200 electronically.
- The ATF will email you or notify you of where they are in the process.
- When you are approved, drive to your dealer and do a 4473 background check before taking home your suppressor.
For now, the ATF will still accept the snail mail paper Form 4’s. So, if you prefer the old school paper application process and don’t mind getting a year older waiting, that is still a viable option.
Regardless of which option you use for purchasing your suppressor, now is a great time to get one and it’s easier than ever. Watch for future articles regarding the process of purchasing a suppressor as well as look for an upcoming installment on why you should use a gun trust.