“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!
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.