Like many firearms enthusiasts, I have been waiting hopefully for the Hearing Protection Act to work its way through Congress. This bill would reduce or eliminate the current restrictions on firearms suppressors – so called silencers. In parts of Europe, suppressors are encouraged – even required – for many shooting sports, because while they do not make a “gun” as quiet as in the movies, they can eliminate the need for bulky hearing protection for both shooters and others nearby by “muffling” the sound of the muzzle blast. For hunters, less shooting noise also means game will be less skittish, and neighbors close by will not be disturbed.
Unfortunately, at this point it does not look good for the HPA getting passed – however, the type of American business ingenuity often praised (and practiced) by President Trump has resulted in some changes to existing law that DO ease the suppressor approval process.
In the recent past, using an NFA firearms trust could make suppressor ownership less painful, by eliminating the need for photos, fingerprints, local LEO approval, and background checks, but then came Amendment 41F, which gummed up the works by requiring that the Trust owner and each “trustee” listed not only had to have their signature notarized, but now would also have to undergo fingerprinting, photos, and background checks equal to those demanded of the owner of a non-trust NFA item. Reports are that this has slowed down sales of suppressors considerably, by making the rules more, instead of less, restrictive.
In a move that reminds me of when a certain man named Knight pioneered In-line Muzzle Loading rifles that brought the range and accuracy of a modern centerfire rifle to “Muzzle Loader Only” seasons for deer hunting – The Silencer Shop in Austin, Texas, discovered that while the BAFT had regulatory authority over NFA items such as suppressors, machine guns, and short barreled rifles or shotguns – they do NOT have anything to say about US Trust laws. The result of this is the Single Shot Trust – which has to be the very best thing for suppressor purchasers short of complete de-regulation.
Personally, I had been waiting/hoping for HPA to pass to purchase my second suppressor, having already mounted a threaded barrel on my Ruger Standard .22 LR. When the bill did not sail through, I reminded myself of a personal decision to hold off on buying additional firearms until I got that suppressor! To this end I contacted The Silencer Shop and ordered a Tacsol Axium suppressor, using a Single Shot Trust.
So how does the SS Trust work? As the name might suggest, this is a trust for a single NFA item. The cost is a very reasonable $25, so if you should decide later to buy additional items, you just get an additional trust for each one. OR, if you know in advance you will be buying multiple suppressors in the future, there is the “Unlimited Single Shot Trust”. With this option, additional items can be added to the existing trust at any time, and since the original paperwork is already done, the process is VERY easy. Of course, unless you plan to have several NFA items, the “regular” Single Shot Trust might be less expensive than the $130 unlimited option (which is the cost of setting up a “regular” trust).
One good part of 41F was that it changed the requirement for approval (and signature) of the top law enforcement official in you local area to only a need to notify that office.
Also with the Single Shot Trust, “trustees” can be added after the BATF Tax Stamp has been received, actually, at any time. These trustees will NOT have to submit pictures or prints, and their signatures do not require notarization. No background check for them, either, yet they have the same rights as Trustees in a “regular” NFA trust, in that they can possess and/or use the item without the trust owner being present. Silencer Shop has BATF approval for the Single Shot Trust, and it is deemed valid in all US states except Iowa and Vermont.
Another possible benefit (not sure this has been tested yet) would be that since such a Trust only affects a single NFA item, it should be reasonable to expect that such item could be sold by selling the entire trust, thus requiring no new tax stamp or transfer fee, and no wait time for approval. This, in itself, could be a H-U-G-E change!
Although I already had an NFA trust, I chose to buy my new suppressor with a Singe Shot Trust, to see for myself how the experience was. It would be a small compliment to say that this is currently by far the best way to go! Most of the process can be handled online, and SS even has a cell phone app for taking your own passport type photos. Their network dealers also have fingerprint “kiosks”, where a machine resembling one selling lottery tickets allows your fingerprints to be “taken” digitally, on site. Once taken they are automatically transmitted to your account at Silencer Shop. I went through this at the closest dealer to me – DSG Gunworks in Baytown, Texas, and even though I stupidly forgot my paperwork – The Silencer Shop emails a code and scanner image to get you into their system, and if you are buying the item from that dealer, the cost is included in the total price – everything was able to be straightened out over the phone, and went went fairly smooth. In addition, I got to visit with DSG owner Dan Slaven about the collection of fully automatic weapons they had on site.
OK, now I wait 6 – 9 months before I can get my new “toy”, right? Well, hopefully not. Reports are that suppressor sales, and thus applications for tax stamps are down considerably since 41F went through, instead of the HPA. Feeling seems to be that once the “glut” of applications received immediately before 41F is processed, wait times COULD drop to 2 months – or even less. Not sure if it will still be valid, but the original “promise” was that if HPA passed, tax refunds for suppressors purchased between the time it was filed and ultimately passed would be refunded!
Things may be getting a lot quieter around here!