Supreme Court Denies Case Regarding ‘Illegal’ Suppressors

Suppressors and short barrelled rifles are regulated by the National Firearms Act of 1934. However, for Kansas State residents, they are allowed by the Kansas Second Amendment Protection Act of 2013. Shane Cox and Jeremy Kettler thought that law allowed them to make, sell, and own suppressors, but the ATF said otherwise. (Photo: Levi Sim)

The Supreme Court decided against hearing petitions from men prosecuted for the illegal manufacture and purchase of suppressors in Kansas. Shane Cox manufactured and sold suppressors from his Army/Navy Surplus store.

Jeremy Kettler, an honorably discharged veteran, bought suppressors from Cox and posted videos of their use on Facebook, which eventually lead to the ATF charging both Kettler and Cox with violations of the National Firearms Act of 1934.

Cox and Kettler both claimed that they had not violated the law because the Kansas Second Amendment Protection Act of 2013 specifically says that suppressors are legal to manufacture, sell, and own as long as they are kept within the state of Kansas. Cox kept a copy of the Kansas Act on display with the suppressors he sold. Kettler and Cox claimed that their “reasonable reliance on the Kansas Second Amendment Protection Act rendered the federal prosecution unjust,” as stated in Cox’s petition to the Supreme Court. But the Tenth District Court said they couldn’t rely on that state law to supersede federal law, and continually instructed the jury to disregard the state law.

The two also claimed that this was a violation of their 2nd Amendment rights, but the Tenth District Court said that didn’t apply because suppressors are not firearms and are not covered by the 2nd Amendment.

In the end, Kettler, the buyer, was sentenced with one year of probation while Cox, the manufacturer/seller, was sentenced with two years of probation in 2016.

Their petitions to the Supreme Court in January 2019 would have challenged the constitutionality of the National Firearms Act, enacted 85 years ago, which taxes the sale of suppressors and heavily restricts their distribution and ownership. The petitioners claim the NFA is outdated and no longer reflects the current needs of the country.

The Supreme Court decided against hearing their cases on Monday, June 10th. The Court did not offer comment or dissent on their reasons. This comes less than two weeks after a suppressed handgun was used in the shooting of 12 city employees by a coworker in Virginia Beach, VA on May 31st. The Trump administration advised the Court not to hear the cases.

You can read Shane Cox’s petition here, and Jeremy Kettler’s here. Both contain summaries of their situation.

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About the author: Levi Sim is an avid hunter, and an increasingly avid shooter. He strives to make delicious and simple recipes from the game he kills. He makes a living as a professional photographer, writer, and photography instructor. Check out his work and he’d love to connect on Instagram: @outdoorslevi

{ 15 comments… add one }
  • Roy Spencer January 13, 2020, 8:40 am

    This is what I feared when states legalized Mary Jane contrary to Federal Law. It opened Pandora’s box to any Federal Law being overruled by State Law including illegal immigration, sanctuary cities, states and etc. I personnally don’t object to marijuana so let’s get our lazy politicians off their ass and change that law nationally letting the states decide for themselves what they want to do in regards to that matter, But until then the Federal Law supersedes state law. It should be simple,” fix it.”
    But as a nation of united states moving forward, our lawmakers should heed the advice before putting pen to paper of I believe Clarence Darrow who said,”Laws against human nature will never work.”

  • Geo Ling October 11, 2019, 7:23 am

    The FedGov does not have the constitutional authority to regulate firearms (and actually the States either per the 2nd) but any such regulation would be a State issue, if at all, per the separation of powers in the Constitution. Therefore Kansas’ law and these men’s activity is a State issue not a federal one.

    Stand up for the Republic!

  • Kb31416 June 19, 2019, 7:35 am

    As others have noted, one of the most irritating things about this issue is the double standard between pot and gun laws, especially regarding suppressors. Liberals violate federal law en mass with impunity and the feds do nothing. Make a can for your own personal use and safety, and they come down on these guys like a ton of bricks.
    Not good.

  • Dale M June 14, 2019, 4:46 pm

    Where is federal law on Immigration States are saying they are Sanctuary states against federal law

  • Patrick June 14, 2019, 4:37 pm

    Marijuana contributes to a dumbed-down, apathetic population. This is exactly what the ruling elite want. It is no threat to them. In the final analysis, firearms represent at least a potential threat to the DC/NY/Hollywood oligarchs.

    The laws against murder and mayhem are about as well-enforced as the immigration laws. But you can be assured that any ban on certain or all guns will be pursued with the full force the federal government can muster.

  • Allen June 14, 2019, 12:11 pm

    So State law does not supercede federal law pertaining to fire arms but States are legalizing pot. Does this not count as superceding federal law. Should not all the Federal funding for these offending State but shut off until they are within Federal law compliance.

    • Sepp W June 14, 2019, 4:13 pm

      It’s complicated. State can legalize whatever they want, but if Big Brother says it’s illegal, Big Brother will enforce Federal law. CA complained the DEA was, or still, raiding shops, farms, etc. that peddle cannabis or grow it. Go figure.

      Now the libs argue comparing cannabis to guns is like comparing apples and oranges. Funny things is neither one does nothing on its own, but when picked up by a human that’s a different story. Again, in the liberal dystopia, there are no criminals, only crime.

    • Jeff S June 14, 2019, 6:53 pm

      Amen. What good for the goose is good for the gander….

  • RICk June 14, 2019, 11:00 am

    So, suppressors aren’t covered by the 2nd amendment because they’re not firearms. Then they should be removed from the NFA list.

  • AJ June 14, 2019, 8:42 am

    If suppressors aren’t covered by the 2nd amendment, then they are still covered by the 10th.

  • Roy Gunther June 14, 2019, 7:41 am

    Is it illegal to make a suppressor for your own use seeing it is NOT considered a firearm?

    • DM June 14, 2019, 11:24 am

      They’re non firearms, but they’re covered under the NFA and GCA.

      This case is another example of states pushing back against the fed. The states are saying NFA items aren’t subject to federal law because most laws that govern them are rooted in interstate commerce law. The feds have ruled laws like these are invalid because federal law superceded state laws. So all the “Montana firearms freedom act” and “Kansas second amendment protection act” are ruled invalid by the fed. There’s more state laws like this, but unlike marijuana laws, the feds are still actively prosecuting NFA makers for unregistered silencers as you see in this case, and many more instances that have went to court in recent years.

  • ArtR June 14, 2019, 5:39 am

    Second Amendment or not, if the Trump administration did in fact advise or even suggest the Supreme Court not to hear the cases, isn’t that a violation of the separation of powers set down in the constitution? Regardless if the Court listened or not, it raises the question, were they influenced? It now becomes a Constitutional issue, and could that not be a new argument?

  • Sepp W June 11, 2019, 7:13 pm

    Not to mention they are regulated by the Federal Government. They broke the law and unlikely Congress is going to amend or rescind it anytime soon.

    Do the paperwork, pay the tax, put in a trust, be legal.

    • J Franks June 14, 2019, 9:16 am

      Because playing by their rules works out so well.

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