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Suppressors 101

 Suppressors…Silencers…Cans….it doesn’t matter what you call them because they all refer to the same thing. Not only do they make a gun quieter, they can also reduce felt recoil, increase muzzle velocity and improve accuracy.

Currently, the following states allow private ownership of suppressors: AL, AR, AK, AZ, CO, CT, FL, GA, ID, IN, KS, KY, LA, ME, MD, MI, MO, MS, MT, ND, NE, NV, NH, NM, NC, OH, OK, OR, PA, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, WA, WI, WV, and WY. Check with your local authorities to make sure.

Most of our suppressor customers are in Texas. If you’re a Texas resident, we can help you with every step of the registration process. If you live in another State, you’ll need to provide us with the name of a Class 3 dealer to help with the transfer. We can only transfer a suppressor, across state lines to another Class 3 dealer or manufacturer. The dealer-to-dealer transfer takes only a few weeks. After that is complete, your local dealer would transfer the suppressor to you.

Probably the biggest “myth” when it comes to suppressors is that you have to have a “Class 3 license” to own one……NOT TRUE! Assuming that you live in a State that allows private ownership of suppressors, you’re a US resident, and you don’t have too many skeletons in your closet, there are three ways to legally own a suppressor (or a machine gun, for that matter).

-          As an individual

-          As a corporation

-          As a Trust

No matter which of the three methods you choose, the first step is to figure out which suppressor you want and to buy it. That’s the fun part…next comes the paperwork! Let’s take a look at it.

The Paperwork

The single most important piece of the paperwork puzzle is the ATF F 5320.4 ….. otherwise referred to as the “Form 4”….and you have to fill it out, IN DUPLICATE!!!!  The official title of this form is the “Application for Tax Paid Transfer and Registration of Firearm”. In a nutshell, this form tells the ATF what is being sold, who is selling it and who they are selling it to. Buyer (Transferee) info, Seller (Transferor) info and a complete description of the item being transferred….make, model, serial number, length, caliber….pretty straightforward.

 

If you’re going to register the suppressor as an individual, you’ll need to have the Form 4 signed by the Chief Law Enforcement Officer (CLEO) in your county. That is sometimes easier said than done, which is why a lot of people decide to register their suppressors in the name of a corporation or trust….more later about that.

 

If you’re going to go down the “Individual” path, you’ll also need to be fingerprinted and have passport photos taken. Since corporations and trusts don’t have fingers or faces, these aren’t required for those types of transfers.

 

The next piece of paperwork that you’ll need is the ATF F 5330.20 Certification of Compliance with U.S.C. 922(g)(5)(B). This is a simple form, used to establish citizenship. Pretty simple.

 

Another important piece of paper is your check, for $200, payable to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives....and it helps if that check doesn’t bounce!

 

Now that we’ve covered the basic forms required, let’s look a little closer at the 3 different methods of registration …individuals, corporations and trusts.

 

Suppressors for Individuals

 

Probably the easiest way to own a suppressor is to register it as an individual, provided that the CLEO in your county will sign the Form 4. By going the individual route, you don’t have to worry about corporate fees or legal fees setting up a trust. The biggest drawback to this type of transfer is that you are the only one that can be in custody of the suppressor….a friend can use it, but you’ve got to be present.

Pros:      - Cheapest – no legal fees or corporate taxes…just the $200 transfer fee

                -Quickest to get started – no setup time required, as with a corporation or trust.

Cons:     -Requires the CLEO’s signature. (Chief Law Enforcement Officer)

                -Requires fingerprinting.

                -Requires passport photos

                -You are the only one that can possess the suppressor.

-What happens upon your death? Depending on how you handle these item in your will, another transfer will have to be made to your beneficiary…and possibly another $200 tax.

If this is the route you’ve chosen, we’ll help you fill out 2 copies of the Form 4 and a Certification of Compliance. We’ll also provide you with two BATFE fingerprint cards. You’ll also need two standard 2”x2” passport photos…check with your local Walgreens , 1-Hour Photo, etc. You’ll need to attach (glue, tape or staple) one passport photo to the second page of each Form 4 in the space provided.

Your next step is to take the Form 4’s and the fingerprint cards to your local Sheriff’s Department. You might want to call first to arrange a time. Usually, a deputy in the booking area will be the one that fills out the fingerprint cards and actually takes your fingerprints.

While you’re there, hopefully the Sheriff will sign both copies of your Form 4 and you’ll be on your way. You may have to leave the Form 4’s and come back to get them at a later date…it all depends on your Sheriff.

The only thing left to do is double-check all of the forms, making sure that everything got filled in, signed and dated….it’s pretty aggravating to have a delay because of one missing piece of information. Now it’s time to mail the packet to the ATF !

You’ll need to be sure that the packet includes:

-          Two (2) Completed Form 4’s. (ATF F 5320.4) Make sure that these are the originals…not copies. Make sure that the passport photos are securely attached…one to each Form 4.

-          Two (2) Completed BATFE fingerprint cards.

-          One (1) Completed Certification of Compliance (ATF F 5330.20)

-          One check or money order for $200.00, made out to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, or “BATFE”. As long as you’re sure that the check won’t “bounce”, I would suggest sending a personal check….that way, you’ll have a record of when it was cashed. It’s also a good idea to put the serial number of the suppressor in the memo field of the check.

Put all of that in an envelope and send it to the address on the top of the Form 4, and then sit back and wait. This process used to only take a few weeks, but the wait times are now around 6 months. There’s nothing either one of us can do about it…unless you can get elected as President and then streamline the process. Good Luck with that!

Suppressors for Trusts 

Recently, the most common method being used to obtain a suppressor, is through a revocable living trust. Some people do this due to the flexibility that it provides, while others go that route because the CLEO in their county refused to sign their Form 4. Either way, it’s a great choice.

Pros:      -You can have multiple “Trustees”…and any one of them could be in possession of the device. Family members, friends, hunting buddies…the choice is yours.

                - The Trust “keeps going”…it doesn’t end with the death of a single trustee.

                -This method doesn’t require the CLEO’s signature

                -Fingerprints are not required

                -Passport photos are not required

-One-time expense. You can use the same trust repeatedly, for future purchases of additional suppressors or other NFA devices, such as full-auto weapons and short-barreled rifles.

-No ongoing franchise fees or taxes.

 

Cons:     -Initial Time and Expense to set up the Trust. Most gun trust attorneys charge $300-$500 dollars to set up your trust and the process normally takes a week or two.A lot of clients use software packages, like Quicken Willmaker, to set up their own trust. While these trusts may be perfectly valid, I personally had a lawyer prepare mine.

- Some states require that you register the trust. Texas doesn’t.

               

The first step in the paperwork trail for a trust is the trust itself. Whether you do the trust yourself or have a lawyer prepare it, you’ll need to make a few copies of it and have the signatures of any trustees notarized. You’ll need to send one complete copy of the trust in with your packet to the ATF.

We’ll help you fill out 2 copies of the Form 4 and a Certification of Compliance. Unlike an individual transfer, you won’t need fingerprint cards or passport photos….and you don’t need the CLEO’s signature on the Form 4’s either.

After checking all of the forms, mail the packet to the ATF, at the address on the top of the Form 4’s. Make sure that the packet includes:

-          Two (2) Completed Form 4’s. (ATF F 5320.4) Make sure that these are the originals…not copies.

-          One (1) Completed Certification of Compliance (ATF F 5330.20)

-          One (1) Complete copy of your trust.

-          One check or money order for $200.00, made out to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, or “BATFE”. As long as you’re sure that the check won’t “bounce”, I would suggest sending a personal check….that way, you’ll have a record of when it was cashed. It’s also a good idea to put the serial number of the suppressor in the memo field of the check.

The wait begins!

               

Suppressors for Corporations 

The final method for registering a suppressor is in the name of a corporation. Some people choose the corporate option so that they can have multiple people in possession of the items. Others make the decision because the CLEO in their county refused to sign their Form 4. If you’re thinking that these sound a lot like the same reasons for choosing a trust, you’re right. The main difference is that most people who choose this option already have a corporation. ..otherwise, it might make more sense to create a trust.

 

Pros:      -Any officer (or “bona fide employee”) can be in possession of the suppressor.

                - The Corporation “keeps going”…it doesn’t end with the death of a single officer.

                -This method doesn’t require the CLEO’s signature

                -Fingerprints are not required

                -Passport photos are not required

- You can use this method repeatedly, for future purchases of additional suppressors or other NFA devices, such as full-auto weapons and short-barreled rifles.

Cons:     -Ongoing costs associated with keeping the corporation in “good standing”.

                -can be expensive to start-up if you don’t have a corporation already.

               

Assuming that you already have a corporation set up, you’ll need to make a copy of your Articles of Incorporation. You’ll need to send one complete copy in with your packet to the ATF.

We’ll help you fill out 2 copies of the Form 4 and a Certification of Compliance. Unlike an individual transfer, you won’t need fingerprint cards or passport photos….and you don’t need the CLEO’s signature on the Form 4’s either.

After checking all of the forms, mail the packet to the ATF, at the address on the top of the Form 4’s. Make sure that the packet includes:

-          Two (2) Completed Form 4’s. (ATF F 5320.4) Make sure that these are the originals…not copies.

-          One (1) Completed Certification of Compliance (ATF F 5330.20)

-          One (1) Complete copy of your Articles of Incorporation.

-          One check or money order for $200.00, made out to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, or “BATFE”. As long as you’re sure that the check won’t “bounce”, I would suggest sending a personal or company check….that way, you’ll have a record of when it was cashed. It’s also a good idea to put the serial number of the suppressor in the memo field of the check.

The wait begins!