Tag Archives: silencer

ATF releases 2018 Report on Firearm Commerce in the United States (Numbers, Bar Graphs, and Pie Charts!)

ATF has released its annual Firearms Commerce in the United States Statistical Update for 2018. As my one friend put it, “Let the nerdery begin.” To be fair, you have to be pretty nerdy to enjoy this stuff, hence me writing about it.

The Annual Firearms Manufacturing and Exportation Report (AFMER) is only current through 2016. This is because AFMER data is not published until one year after the close of a calendar reporting year because the information provided by those whole filed a report is protected from immediate disclosure by the Trade Secrets Act. Which is why you see a two year lag (2016 data reporting in the beginning of 2017 and a year delay between its reporting and publication).

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In 2016, there were a total of 11,497,441 firearms manufactured. This was up from 2015’s number of 9,358,661 by about 20%. The number of exports was up from the previous year by about 9%, from 343,456 in 2015 to 376,818 in 2016.

The total number of imports fell from 5,137,771 in 2016 to 4,492,256 in 2017 (imports are not included not the AFMER report which is why the numbers are more current). Once again, the number of handguns imported accounts for over half the total number of firearms imported.

For those of you NFA junkies, in 2017, there was $6,371,000 in occupational taxes paid (SOTs). This is up again from the year prior and slightly under double that of 2012. Taxes paid were $22,972,00 for 2017, about a third of what was paid in 2016 ($62,596,000). Interestingly, there were 6,749 record checks, which means that ATF searched the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record (NFRTR) that many times to determine if a firearm was possessed lawfully or if the transfer was performed lawfully. That number is up 202 times from 2016.

In 2017, there were 40,444 Form 1s and 184,312 Form 4s filed. These numbers were different from the year prior, but not by a significant margin for the Form 1s (Form 1s were down by about 9,000 but Form 4s were up about 51,000). The total number of forms processed by the NFA Branch was down about a million from the year prior. 2017 number look similar to that of 2014 and 2015.

As far as NFA firearms registered by state, Texas still leads with 637,612. Florida follows with 377,2017. California (thanks Hollywood), Virginia and Pennsylvania round out the top 5. Florida leads the charge with registered machine guns, sitting at 44,484. Texas has an astonishing 265,597 registered silencers. Florida is the next closest with 98,972 registered silencers.


There are currently 55,588 licensed collectors of curios or relics, making it the most popular license type. It is followed closely by dealer in firearms, of which there are 56,638 active licenses. ATF reports 136,081 total active licenses (across the spectrum). Texas holds 10,920 of those licenses, making it the state with the most.

In 2017, 17 license applications were denied. This number is up exactly one from the year prior. As for compliance inspections, ATF performed 11,009 last year. This equates to 8.09% of all licensees in 2017 being inspected.

As always, the annual report helps give some insight as to ongoings within the firearms industry.


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Breaking News: ATF To Issue Two Monumental Determinations

Today, at the NSSF/FAIR Trade Group’s 16th Annual Firearms Import/Export Conference, during the roundtable discussions, the Firearms and Ammunition Technology Division (FATD) stated that it is working on two monumental determinations regarding modular silencers and vertical/angled foregrips.

First, in relation to vertical/angled foregrips, it was disclosed that FATD has received numerous requests for determination. These requests vary greatly in form and substance and resulted in Branch Chief Curtis stating that some form of determination would be issued to the Firearms Industry; hopefully in the coming weeks. He even mentioned that at this point, the degree of the angled foregrip would have to be addressed in the determination, after review of all past determinations, including ones issued by his predecessors and ones which may be in conflict.

Second, in relation to modular silencers, FATD acknowledged that it currently has pending before it a request for determination of legality from a modular silencer manufacture. Division Chief Griffith and Branch Chief Curtis raised concern over the determination request and the issues that must be addressed, including whether modular silencer are legal, when reduced in size. In essence, the concern stems from there arguably existing additional silencer parts that are not part of the modular silencer’s configuration, when it is reduced in length. In the event that ATF would rule that modular silencers are generally lawful, it raises a plethora of other issues, including where the markings must be placed (which is interrelated to ATF’s currently pending rulemaking: ATF-29P) or whether such silencers would require either specific location markings or multiple markings.

This means that if you are a silencer manufacturer, who manufactures modular silencers, there is still time to submit legal arguments to FATD as to the general legality of modular silencers. If you wish to submit legal arguments, contact Firearms Industry Consulting Group (FICG) today to discuss your options.

Although ATF was reluctant to state whether these determinations would be in the form of “policy determinations,” “guidance” or “formal rulings,”  and stated that it could not provide an exact timeframe for these determinations, it was stated that they are overdue and should be expected in the very near future.

Stay tuned for a blog article from Attorney Adam Kraut on other news and revelations from the 16th Annual Firearms Import/Export Conference!

Firearms Industry Consulting Group® (FICG®) is a registered trademark and division of Civil Rights Defense Firm, P.C., with rights and permissions granted to Prince Law Offices, P.C. to use in this article.


Filed under ATF, Firearms Law, Uncategorized

As an FFL, Can You Sell an NFA Firearm Through the Mail?

Often times, Federal Firearms Licensees (FFLs) inquire as to whether they can sell a National Firearms Act (NFA) firearm through the mail, without the buyer needing to be present. To the surprise of most FFLs, you actually can sell NFA firearms through the mail, provided the purchaser is not otherwise prohibited and is a resident in the same state as the FFL.

27 C.F.R. § 478.96 states that where the firearm is being provided to resident of the same state as the FFL and who is not prohibited, the FFL may sell a firearm that is not subject to the provisions of 27 C.F.R. § 478.102(a) to a non-licensee who does not appear in person. Section 478.102(a) requires a National Instant Check System (NICS) background check on most transactions; however, there is an exception, pursuant to subsection (d)(2), if  “The firearm is subject to the provisions of the National Firearms Act and has been approved for transfer under 27 CFR part 479.” Thus, Section 478.96 would apply and allow the FFL to transfer the firearm to the purchaser, who is a resident of the same state, without the purchaser having to be present.

However, pursuant to Section 478.96, the FFL has certain additional requirements to perform this type of transaction. Specifically, the purchaser must provide to the FFL an executed Form 4473, as provided for by 27 C.F.R. § 478.124, and attach “a true copy of any permit or other information required pursuant to any statute of the State and published ordinance applicable to the locality in which he resides.”

Furthermore, the FFL MUST “prior to shipment or delivery of the firearm, forward by registered or certified mail (return receipt requested) a copy of the record, Form 4473, to the chief law enforcement officer named on such record, and delay shipment or delivery of the firearm for a period of at least 7 days following receipt by the licensee of the return receipt evidencing delivery of the copy of the record to such chief law enforcement officer, or the return of the copy of the record to him due to the refusal of such chief law enforcement officer to accept same in accordance with U.S. Postal Service regulations.”

Lastly, the original Form 4473, and evidence of receipt or rejection of delivery of the copy of the Form 4473 sent to the chief law enforcement officer must be retained by the licensee as a part of his/her/its required records. After completing this step, the FFL can now send the NFA firearm to the purchaser, provided that there are no separate state law requirements. Some states, such as Pennsylvania, require additional state forms to be completed, depending on the type of NFA firearm (e.g. if it constitutes a “firearm” under Pennsylvania law, then a Record/Application of Sale form would have to be completed).

Accordingly, while an NFA transfer can occur without the instate purchaser being present, there are additional obligations placed upon the FFL and the purchaser may not be happy with the additional information being provided to his/her CLEO. Thus, it is a best practice for an FFL to only conduct in-person transfers, unless you are familiar with the requirements and have put in place procedural safeguards to ensure that none of the additional requirements are overlooked.

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ATF’s Shocking Position on “Makers” of Silencers/Suppressors, Especially in Relation to Solvent Traps

As many of our readers are aware, Attorney Adam Kraut and I attended the NSSF’s Import/Export Conference on August 2-3, 2016, for which we blogged about many of the statements made by ATF (and other federal agencies) in our blog – News from the Round Table Discussions at the NSSF Import/Export Conference. One issue that we did not discuss is ATF’s statements during the Round Table Discussions relating to ATF’s position on “makers” of silencers/suppressors, especially relative to what been called “solvent traps.”

For those who are unaware, there are a number of business offering “solvent traps,” which are designed to thread on the end of one’s barrel to capture the solvent, typically in an oil or fuel filter threaded on the end.

Oil Filter Suppressor 1Oil Filter Suppressor 2.jpg

While the use of these devices for purposes of collecting solvent is questionable, many of these companies advise their customers that if they want to be able to use the solvent trap as a silencer/suppressor, the customer must first file a Form 1 with ATF to make a silencer and receive approval, before utilizing the solvent trap for purposes of being a silencer. (While we would advise our clients to file a Form 1 and obtain approval of ATF prior to even purchasing a solvent trap or similar device, so to prevent against constructive possession charges, such is beyond the scope of this article).

Under the National Firearms Act (“NFA”), 26 U.S.C. 5801, et seq, one who wishes to “make” an NFA firearm must file an application with the Attorney General, pursuant to 26 U.S.C. 5822. (Although the statute still references the Secretary (of the Treasury), when ATF was moved under DOJ in 2003, it changed to the Attorney General). Under the NFA, pursuant to 26 U.S.C. 5845, “make” is defined as to “include manufacturing (other than by one qualified to engage in such business under this chapter [26 USCS §§ 5801 et seq.]), putting together, altering, any combination of these, or otherwise producing a firearm.”  While the NFA, pursuant to 26 U.S.C. 5841, does differentiate between a “maker” and a “manufacturer” in relation to how one is to initially register an NFA firearm  and does define “make” as mentioned previously, nothing in the NFA differentiates between the rights of a “maker” and those of a “manufacturer.”

Nevertheless, during a discussion on ATF-29p (ATF’s Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking relating to Silencer/Suppressor engravings), ATF’s Mike Curtis and Earl Griffith with the Firearms and Ammunition Technology Division (“FATD”) stated that ATF views “makers” of silencers/suppressors differently than “manufacturers.” Specifically, the example of solvent traps was brought up, where they stated that ATF’s position is that a “maker” of a silencer cannot replace a silencer part without filing a new Form 1, paying another $200.00 and obtaining approval from ATF; whereas, a manufacturer, may lawfully replace a silencer part in a silencer it manufactured, provided that the part that is being replaced is destroyed. While there does not exist any specific statutory provision to support this contention, Mr. Curtis went on to explain that an individual who files a Form 1 to make a “solvent trap silencer” can only use the original oil/fuel filter that is installed and is barred from replacing a previously utilized oil/fuel filter with a new filter, absent a newly approved Form 1.

While Mr. Curtis did admit that to his knowledge ATF has not been asked to make a determination on a solvent trap silencer, he was explicitly clear that if a determination request was filed (or criminal charges brought against someone in such a situation), ATF would specifically find and contend that a “maker” of a silencer/suppressor may not repair/replace any part of the silencer/suppressor without first obtaining another approved Form 1.

Obviously, ATF’s position has a great impact on the Firearms Industry, as many individuals have made their own silencers/suppressors, long before the solvent trap silencers, and have been under the impression that like a manufacturer of a silencer/suppressor, they may lawfully replace a part in that silencer, provided that they destroy the part being replaced.

While Firearms Industry Consulting Group (FICG), a division of Prince Law Offices, P.C., does not agree with ATF’s position, we believe it is extremely important to advise those who have Form 1’ed their own silencer/suppressor of ATF’s position, since non-compliance could result in federal charging.


Filed under ATF, Firearms Law

FICG Files Comment in Opposition to ATF 29P on Behalf of Dead Air Armament

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The Firearms Industry Consulting Group, a division of Prince Law Offices, P.C.,  is pleased to announce that it was retained by Dead Air Armament (“Dead Air”) to prepare a detailed filing in opposition to ATF’s Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“ANPR”) 29P.  Dead Air has combined the brains and passion of both Mike Pappas and Gary Hughes to bring to the market some of the most innovative and anticipated silencers of the past year.

Because there is a delay in the posting of newly filed comments on http://www.regulations.gov, a copy is available for your viewing here.

An inspection of the docket this morning showed that no other silencer companies have filed a comment in opposition to this ANPR, making Dead Air the first in the silencer industry to take charge in the fight to prevent additional, unnecessary regulations.


Filed under ATF, Firearms Law, Uncategorized

The Elusive NFATCA Petition that Prompted the ATF to Enter into Rulemaking Regarding Silencer Engravings

As Chief Counsel Joshua Prince reported back in May, the organization responsible for ATF 41P/F, the National Firearms Trade and Collectors Association (“NFATCA”) had once again petitioned Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (“ATF”) to enter into rulemaking, this time in relation to silencer engravings.


The docket specified that copies of the petition would be available on www.regulations.gov and in the ATF Reading Room which is located in Washington, D.C. After having inspected the docket, there was no sign of the petition which was purportedly available for inspection.

After doing some digging, I was able to obtain a copy of the Petition that NFATCA had filed with ATF back in 2008. As noted in the docket, ATF had previously released guidance to the industry regarding the marking of silencers.

NFATCA in its petition stated “There has been an overwhelmingly negative response from the members of our trade to this particular guidance . . . there is strong policy agreement between ATF and our trade that only the silencer [outer] tube should be marked in accordance with the marking requirements of Parts 478 and 479 of Title 27 of the Code of Federal Regulations. . . . Allowing end caps to be the possible marking location for silencers does constitute a serious public safety issue in the areas of diversion, tracing, and evasion of other NFA rules.”


NFATCA went on to say “[w]e have also been further advised that the Bureau does not see how they would be able to take any adverse legal action against a person or entity that should decide to mark the end caps of a silencer without promulgating a change in the regulations.”

As a result, NFATCA requested that ATF “immediately draft and propose to the Attorney General an emergency regulation prohibiting marking a silencer in a location other than the tube, unless a variance is granted by the Director on a case by case basis for good cause”.

Also included with the Petition are the exhibits that NFATCA references in its Petition.

Of particular interest is that NFATCA, an organization which purports to represent the industry and individual collectors, actually asked for more regulations which would restrict the flexibility of the industry and requested that the regulations be adopted as “emergency” measures without going through the Administrative Procedures Act notice and comment period.

If you are interested in leaving a comment in opposition to the proposed regulatory change, head on over to www.regulations.gov and search for “ATF 29P” or click here. Comments are due on or before August 2, 2016.


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NFATCA Prompts ATF to Enter into Rulemaking…AGAIN – Now Regarding Silencer Engravings…

Not having learned from the debacle that is ATF 41P/F, the National Firearms Act Trade and Collector Association (“NFATCA”) has once again petitioned the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (“ATF”) to enter into rulemaking, this time in relation to silencer engravings.

In a proposed rule that will be published tomorrow, May 4, 2016, in the Federal Register as ATF-29P, the ATF, based on a petition received from the NFATCA, is seeking to restrict silencer marking to the tube of the silencer. You can download a pre-published copy of ATF29P, here.

So, how did ATF come to formulate ATF-29p and enter into rulemaking? A petition by the NFATCA, because it didn’t like ATF’s prior guidance, which provided for MORE marking locations for manufacturers and makers.

On April 17, 2008, ATF issued guidance to silencer manufacturers and makers regarding the engraving requirements and locations. Specifically, ATF stated:

The silencer must be marked in accordance with 27 C.F.R. §§ 478.92 and 479.102. The regulations require that the markings be conspicuous and legible, meaning that the markings may be placed on any external part, such as the outer tube or end cap. ATF strongly recommends that manufacturers place all required markings on the outer tube of the silencer, as this is the accepted industry standard. Moreover, this practice eliminates the need to remark in the event an end cap bearing the markings is damaged and requires replacement. (Emphasis added)

However, NFATCA wasn’t happy with this guidance and sought to have ATF restrict the marking location strictly to the silencer tube.

Specifically, ATF-29P declares:

ATF received a petition filed on behalf of the National Firearms Act Trade and Collectors Association (NFATCA). NFATCA is a trade group representing the firearms and import community. Some of its members primarily manufacture, transport, and possess silencers for lawful use.

According to the petitioner, the industry’s response to ATF’s guidance was not favorable: “There has been an overwhelmingly negative response from the members of our trade to this particular guidance. . . . there is strong policy agreement between ATF and our trade that only the silencer [outer] tube should be marked in accordance with the marking requirements of Parts 478 and 479 of Title 27 of the Code of Federal Regulations. . . . Allowing end caps to be the possible marking location for silencers does constitute a serious public safety issue in the areas of diversion, tracing, and evasion of other NFA rules.”

Really? A public safety concern? On what basis? (Maybe they’ll also petition to have the lettering size increased from 1/16th to 1″ and the depth from .003 to .3 in case the officer doesn’t have his/her glasses with him/her). What does this remind you of? That’s right, NFATCA’s petition, which resulted in ATF-41P.

BUT, NFATCA didn’t stop there. No, it wanted to drive its point home so that ATF would take action:

In addition, the petitioner stated that “[w]e have also been further advised that the Bureau does not see how they would be able to take any adverse legal action against a person or entity that should decide to mark the end caps of a silencer without promulgating a change in the regulations.”

So, let’s analyze this sentence. The “we” refers to NFATCA, which has been “advised that the Bureau does not see how they [sic] would be able to take any adverse legal action.” So, NFATCA, which lauds itself as the representative of the NFA community is seeking to have ATF implement new regulations so that ATF can prosecute our community??? Yeah, that makes sense. What was I thinking? And, let’s not take too much time to consider how NFATCA came into this information regarding the Bureau’s inability to prosecute and NFATCA’s desire for the Bureau to prosecute where a manufacturer or maker complied with ATF’s guidance…

As we documented in our Comment in Opposition to ATF-41P and the accompanying Exhibits, pages 28-30 and Exhibit 25, the President of the NFATCA, John Brown, has a long history with the ATF:

Indeed, as Richard Vasquez — ATF’s Chief of the Firearms Training Branch and previous Assistant and Acting Chief of the Firearms Technology Branch — testified under oath only last year, Mr. Brown “interacted with ATF a lot,” was a friend since at least 2006, had personally transferred two firearms to him, had transferred firearms to other ATF employees, visited ATF “to meet and become personal with a lot of the offices” over a period of years, and provided him with information to pass along to ATF for ATF’s use in a forfeiture proceeding. See Exhibit 25(A), pp. 202, 208-09, 226-32, 251, 255-56. Mr. Brown apparently went so far as to forward e-mails he had received from a FFL involved in litigation with ATF to ATF for ATF’s use in the litigation against the FFL. Id., pp. 232, 270. Indeed, Mr. Brown was not surprised to be characterized as a “confidential source” for Acting Chief Vasquez and ATF. Exhibit 25(E), pp. 611-12. Despite having acquired three machineguns illegally manufactured by George D. Clark, Mr. Brown seems to be the only FFL in that situation that ATF never referred for prosecution. Exhibits 25(A), pp. 255-56, 278; 25(C), pp. 396-97. In fact, ATF knowingly left Mr. Brown in possession of that contraband for six weeks and then promptly destroyed that evidence before the completion of prosecutions of other individuals in possession of Mr. Clark’s machineguns. Exhibit 25(A), pp. 215-26, 278. In addition, during this same time period Mr. Brown, together with the attorney he reportedly hired to prepare the NFATCA petition upon which ATF now relies, hired two thirty-year veterans of ATF who simultaneously worked together with ATF to draft the National Firearms Act Handbook. See id., pp. 227-30 Ernie Lintner — a specialist in ATF’s NFA Branch and one-time Acting Chief of that Branch — testified that he and other ATF employees met Mr. Brown at his place of business to discuss those revisions. See Exhibit 25(B), pp. 282, 332-34. And another NFA Branch employee, Daniel Pickney, testified to additional meetings held at ATF’s Martinsburg, West Virginia, facility. See Exhibit 25(D), pp. 444-45, 459.

As particularly pertinent to this proceeding, Mr. Lintner testified that he and Gary Schaible — another former Acting Chief of the NFA Branch — met with Mr. Brown “about some suggested regulatory changes that we wanted to try and make.” See Exhibit 25(B), pp. 333-34. That is, ATF employees testified under oath that regulatory changes that ATF wanted to advance — quite likely the subject of this proceeding — were the subject of a meeting with Mr. Brown, confirming his statement about working “inside ATF”. Indeed, Mr. Brown testified that NFATCA “deals with ATF on a weekly basis” setting up “meetings with very high-level agenda.” See Exhibit 25(E), p. 650. As noted above, multiple FOIA requests have sought documents from such meetings, at least one dating back to January 2013. See supra note 4.

It appears clear based on the the information provided in ATF-29P and the testimony provided relating to John Brown, that NFATCA is operating as a proxy for ATF, so that ATF can implement further regulations on our community. There is simply no basis for a putative representative of the NFA community to repeatedly request further more restrictive regulations on lawful conduct.

Regardless, the Firearms Industry Consulting Group is prepared to represent silencer manufacturers, makers and other interested parties in this rulemaking. If you desire to file a comment in opposition to ATF-29P, contact us today to discuss your options. As there are only 90 days to file comments, time is of the essence.


Filed under ATF, Firearms Law