You Don’t Need a License to Own a Suppressor: $200 Taxes, Constructive Possession, & Made In Your State Suppressors

Silencer Central

“Class 3 Licenses”

On a regular basis, I hear knowledgeable gun owners say that they’d love to own a suppressor but that they don’t want to get a “class 3” license (not sure what that is). It just isn’t worth the hassle to them. 

Let’s set that straight.  If you’re in one of the states we discussed HERE that you can legally, under state law, own a suppressor in, NO LICENSE needed!  

Stamp Tax!

You do, however, need to pay the ATF a one-time $200 tax for each suppressor that you purchase. It’s literally that simple. Here’s why:

In 1934, Congress (your elected representatives) passed the National Firearms Act (NFA) with the intention of making certain firearms and items like silencers harder to obtain. They weren’t illegal, they just required that you pay a $200 tax. In 1934 that $200 tax created quite the barrier to entry for owning a silencer.  For example, in 1934, a brand new 1934 Ford Model 40 Deluxe Roadster with a flathead V8 motor, 3-speed transmission, and a whopping 85 horsepower, cost just $575. 

Today, $200 barely buys two tanks of gas in a truck! While $200 is nothing to scoff at, it’s not the barrier it once was to owning a suppressor. 

The process for paying the $200 requires submitting an ATF Form 4 for each suppressor that you purchase. You can submit either electronically or via paper. The Form 4 transfers ownership of the suppressor from the dealer or manufacturer to you.  We’ve already covered information about the eForm 4’s HERE. 

If you don’t like how this works, run for congress or support someone that would support changing this stupid law. 

Form 1 –  Making your own suppressor

There is another process for obtaining a suppressor. It’s called the Form 1 and it includes making it yourself. However, the process is fraught with legal liability should you go about it incorrectly. Remember, if you were to do the Form 1 process, don’t buy anything related to the building of the suppressor before you have completed the Form 1, and have approval from the ATF. The ATF has created something of a legal fiction called “constructive possession”, i.e. possessing something that could be turned into something illegal. The idea is that simply possessing parts you intend to use to create the suppressor makes you guilty of owning a suppressor or suppressor parts. The ATF recently asked people submitting Form 1’s to self-incriminate by sending in pictures of the “parts” or kits they had for making the suppressors as part of the application process. Obviously, you shouldn’t send them any pictures. You shouldn’t own or possess those parts when you’re in the application process. You need to have an approved Form 1 before you buy any materials to create a suppressor. You are supposed to be the one that does all the work on manufacturing it as well. The goal here isn’t to start an argument on constructive possession but rather to educate our readers on potential pitfalls. Unfortunately, it appears as though the ATF is actually out to get otherwise law-abiding gun owners on technicalities.

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Here’s an example of the ATF prosecuting a man that was simply selling drawings on steel of a prohibited item. They considered it possession of an illegal item. The people that bought the drawings are also in legal jeopardy.

State Laws Saying You Don’t Need to Pay the $200

There are a few states that have passed laws that essentially have tried to say that if the suppressor is made in our state, the federal government doesn’t have jurisdiction over the item because it hasn’t moved in interstate commerce. Further, these state statutes say that you can own a “made in your state” suppressor without jumping through the federal loopholes and paying the $200 tax.  While it’s a great states’ rights issue, this idea isn’t recognized by the federal government. Idaho, Montana, and several other states passed legislation to this effect several years ago. The law was quickly invalidated by the 9th Circuit. It’s not valid law and if you got caught with a “made in your state” suppressor you’d likely be facing prison. Regardless of the statute being invalidated, dozens of ignorant people that don’t understand have bought or created these suppressors. They are committing federal felonies to save $200. Regardless of whether they should be allowed to do this, Congress passed the act that requires it. It’s valid law and as real as the jail cell you could inhabit for violating it whether you agree or not. 

Texas is one of the most recent states to pass this type of, “made in your state” legislation. Regardless of the state law, it could land you 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Pay the $200 tax and follow the law. You can’t even hire an attorney for one hour for $200.

Interested in getting a suppressor?  Check out GunsAmerica’s Suppressor Academy. 

About the author: True Pearce is the Managing Editor at GunsAmerica. He’s a competitive shooter, hunter, instructor & attorney. You can see and follow his adventures on Instagram. @true1911 https://www.instagram.com/true1911/

{ 21 comments… add one }
  • Ray April 19, 2022, 4:38 pm

    Under “constructive possession” virtually any gun owner could be charged. Do you have a 2 liter bottle and rags, go to jail. Do you have water pipe that is not part of your pluming, go to jail.

  • DJD April 19, 2022, 9:00 am

    It sounds to me as though the suppressor academy is a propaganda arm of the ATF. Next, the ATF will be going after steel pipe, hammers and nails!

  • Kurt March 25, 2022, 6:22 pm

    Let us not forget that if you live in some of the very liberal states as i do (California), Even a tax stamp can not get you a suppressor. In California they are considered Illegal.

    Penal Code 33410.

    Any person, firm, or corporation who within this state possesses a silencer is guilty of a felony and upon conviction thereof shall be punished by imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170 or by a fine not to exceed ten thousand dollars ($10,000), or by both that fine and imprisonment.

  • Scotty Gunn March 25, 2022, 5:33 pm

    Avoid Form 1 right now , period.
    $200 is too much tax for a suppressor.

    • Rattlerjake April 20, 2022, 2:11 pm

      Conforming to unconstitutional laws is why the government gets away with making these laws. It’s pathetic how this site as well as all of the other gun rights organizations, insist on helping you comply with illegal and unconstitutional federal and state laws, when they should be helping us to fight this garbage in court and nullify these BS laws.

  • Dav March 25, 2022, 3:14 pm

    9th Circuit should be disbanded as a treasonous organization and every member that has voted against the constitution and the 9th and 10th amendment should be placed in prison awaiting trial for treason with the maximum penalty.

    • Rattlerjake April 20, 2022, 2:22 pm

      It will never happen because the conservative right refuses to grow a pair, organize, and physically take down our illegal and unconstitutional federal and state corporate governments. We have not had a single legitimate government since the Act of 1871!

  • Ernest Wayne Toney Sr. March 25, 2022, 6:38 am

    You have some very good articles to read about and I didn’t know you can have a suppressor on any of my weapons, Thanks for all tis good info.

  • James Richards March 22, 2022, 1:51 am

    The F Needs to be Removed from the BATFE! The Government is PROHIBITED from Creating Laws Regulating Firearms, so How can They Legally Enforce Them?

    • Rattlerjake April 20, 2022, 2:46 pm

      First, they don’t LEGALLY enforce them. An illegal law cannot be legally enforced! Even the Supreme Court established what is called “Not Laws”. [http://takebackthepower.us/Not-Laws.html].

      Secondly, the government, whether federal, state, or local, get away with enforcing these illegal laws because the people will NOT take a physical, and if necessary violent action, against these ‘law-makers’. Today’s population no longer has the courage or “balls” to fight for their rights.

      And third, the people have been dumbed down to the point that they are unable to properly interpret the Constitution, just as the majority of modern-day Christians are unable to understand the Bible. So they simply listen to the propaganda from the politicians, just as Christians believe the lies of the denominational church cults that preach “popular” Christianity instead of BIBLICAL Christianity!

      Our biggest problem is that we as a nation have failed to support and defend the Constitution. This nation was founded as a REPUBLICAN form of government, NOT a democracy, yet we are allowing it to be run as a democracy! The number one biggest violation of our Constitution is allowing leftists/”liberals” to hold elected and appointed offices, when their entire ideology violates the oath of office.

  • HUGH THOMAS March 21, 2022, 1:05 pm

    FYI, a Class 3 license allows you to SELL NFA weapons and silencers. A $200 transfer tax is one of the points that is objectionable, if the Federal government can place what amounted to a restrictive tax on an item, particularly one protected by the Constitution Specifically, then at what point will the decide to start placing restrictive taxes on anything they object to. Yes, you can own machine guns, Short barrel rifles and shotguns, silencers, AND artillery, but that tax includes a background check by the FBI that can take months, is an additional $200 added to the cost of the weapon, and was originally enacted to keep law abiding citizens from purchase (or making) those items (Criminals don’t obey laws, somehow this fact seems to escape the powers that be).

    In many European countries, suppressors can be purchased over the counter; France you need a hunting license; Norway is unregulated; Information on the web tends to be difficult to obtain for all nations.

    If you can legally purchase a firearm, there should be NO restrictions or excise taxes on what firearms you can purchase. BTW, the maximum bore diameter of a rifle that you can purchase is .50 caliber, yet the BATF unilaterally decides the definition, a rifled shotgun of whatever guage is not covered under this as long as the barrel is at least 18 inches long.

    As a former FFL, you can ask 10 BATF agents a question and get 15 different answers.

    • Rattlerjake April 20, 2022, 7:19 pm

      The already have restrictive taxes on many items that people just accept instead of fight to stop. The states are illegally taxing our vehicles, we bitch and moan t high Heaven when they try to make us register or guns, yet we gleefully accept them forcing registration of our cars. The Constitution specifically addresses COMMERCE, NOT personal travel. To make matters worse they make you re-register your vehicle every year – WHY? Because it amounts to billions of dollars in revenue annually! You can thank the inaction of the people for all of it!

  • Mach37 March 21, 2022, 12:56 pm

    The BATFE seems to be creating law, with the permission of congress, although congress is not legally creating the law. The SCOTUS should be invalidating what BATFE is doing, but in the past there have been too many scofflaws in the SCOTUS who have allowed unconstitutional procedures to pass. One of these days, hopefully, we will get a SCOTUS majority who will honor the intent of the Constitution and tell congress to pass real legislation that nullifies the BATFE rogue regulations.

  • Steve G March 21, 2022, 12:31 pm

    “…stupid law…” I agree 100%. Silencers, suppressors, cans, whatever are weapon mounted hearing protection plain and simple. The fact that silencers were thrown in with hand grenades in the NFA act was then and is now stupid. This is a great example of how once Big Government gets ahold of something they never let it go. Once they take a freedom they never relinquish it. There is a lesson here for today.

  • The Ghostman March 21, 2022, 11:33 am

    When you send in your Form 1, make sure you send it registered mail so someone has to sign for it.
    Reports I’ve read are that the ATFE is “sitting” on some Form 1 paperwork, or just saying “we never got it”.
    With that little green card in hand, they can never say they didn’t get it, and you have the date they received it.

  • Jess F March 21, 2022, 9:24 am

    Just an FYI……The National Firearms Act was passed on 26 June 1934.

    Using the CPI Inflation Calculator at bls.gov, $200 in July 1934 would be the equivalent of $4,234.57 USD in February 2022.

    $575 in July 1934 for a new 1934 Ford Model 40 Deluxe Roadster would equal around $12,174.38 USD in February 2022.

    Based on Bureau of Labor Statistics infomation, the average annual U.S. wage in 1934 was $939.

    So in 1934, both the $200 tax and $575 for the Roadster would have been out of reach by many, if not most, in the U.S.

  • TexDad March 21, 2022, 7:26 am

    What is and is not valid law is not for this author to say.

    The matter is currently being brought before federal court by the Texas Attorney General. If the Tenth Amendment, the Commerce Clause, and the Supremacy Clause have any meaning today, there will be a lot more discussion to be had than “federal wins”.

    As far as thinking twice because of how things might go, however, there’s a point made here.

  • Kev March 21, 2022, 7:13 am

    My understanding is you must pay the 200$ tax and sign a waver that the ATF can enter your home at will to search if they desire. The way things are I simply don’t like that idea. Even if one has nothing to hide that is setting one’s self for search and seizure just because they can. And you signed allowing it.

    • TexDad March 21, 2022, 7:36 am

      Nope. Complete myth. No such waiver.

  • Baker March 21, 2022, 6:46 am

    Class 3 license. That is a C&R license.

    • George March 21, 2022, 8:35 am

      Nope. A C&R is a type 3 FFL, not CLASS 3. Classes are exclusively used to determine the level of Special Occupational Tax certificate the FFL is required to purchase annually from the Feds.

      Class 1, Usage: importer of NFA firearms

      Class 2, Usage: manufacturer of NFA firearms

      Class 3, Usage: dealer of NFA firearms

      To get a Class 1 SOT status, an importer FFL is needed, which are FFL Types 8 and 11.

      To get a Class 2 SOT status, a manufacturer FFL is needed, which are FFL Types 7 and 10.

      To get a Class 3 SOT status, a dealer FFL is needed which are FFL Types 1 and 2.

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