If you have never owned an NFA item, that being a silencer, short barreled rifle or some other regulated item, then you might want to read on as this article discusses a few items about this subject that we have ran across at times. We will reference silencer or suppressor from here on out as this is the most common item people have on the NFA registry that will require a form 4. Please also be aware that we are not lawyers here at Liberty and you should consult a qualified attorney if you need clarity on the laws pertaining to NFA items, with all that said, let’s dive in!
The first thing that comes up is someone such as a law enforcement officer, asks if you have paperwork on the item. This doesn’t happen very often, but it does occasionally happen. First off, there is no law that says you have to prove you own the silencer, SBR, etc. But that doesn’t stop some uninformed LEOs from giving you a hard time and possibly taking your item if you cant prove it is yours. Silencers draw a lot of attention since they are very obvious (and cool) and what we have found solves almost ever problem like this is to have a copy of your transfer form with you while you are out and about with your suppressor. Some people will make 1/4 scale copies and laminate them, but we find that a regular copy stored in the gun case works really well in this instance. It is always with the item and easy to find. Having a copy of this form will neutralize almost all of these encounters and might even get someone else into NFA, who knows?
What do you do if a private citizen asks for your forms? Honestly, it is up to you how you handle this, but I would politely tell them I dont have to prove ownership to them and keep on enjoying my silencer. Just remember, you dont have to prove anything to some random person who is trying to leverage you about your property. This is something that we have ran into in the past more than in more recent times, as silencers get to be more commonplace, we see this one happen less and less. But it does happen. You can flip this too, if you want to win over another “convert” to the world of suppressor ownership, you could explain that it is legal for them to own silencers and that it is a pretty simple form that you file with the ATF and then show them the form and how you did yours to sell them on the idea. Some people are just curious so capitalize on this curiosity.
The next thing to discuss is taking NFA items across state lines. Some NFA items can not leave your home state without a special form being filed prior to taking them out of state. Make sure you check into this before leaving the state with a regulated item, this could turn into a huge problem if you run into trouble and the ATF gets involved. Fortunately, silencers are exempt from this rule so they can be transported into any state that they are legal in from your home state. So taking your silencer from Georgia to Texas to hunt wild hogs is fine without any special forms being filed to do so. Just make sure if you have other NFA items that you make sure they are good to go too before taking off for the Texas hill country.
Also, some other things to prepare for are, people will ask if they are legal and some will ask where you got it. Some will start telling you about their exploits, some of which is probably incriminating… It happens…lol. Another thing is people routinely forget that silencers get VERY hot with even moderate use. I have seen melted range bags, gun cases and even jackets. So keep it in mind and allow time for the silencer to cool before you have to leave so you are not doing the hot potato game with it while heading to the car. Also dont forget that most QA mounts are not quick DETACH as the can heats up and locks the mount into position until it has had time to cool down some letting the part shrink a little and allowing the the mount to release. Another reason to allow the can time to cool before leaving the range.
I also never leave NFA items like silencers on the bench when going downrange to change targets or check grouping and such, it would be almost impossible for you to sprint the 100 yards back to the bench then out to the parking lot to get a tag number if some one grabbed your can while you was down range checking targets. Either have someone sit with the items or take them with you. either way, I cant stress this enough, dont leave them unattended…at all. People get complacent and forget that people will do dumb stuff like score your favorite 22 can when you aint watching… dont trust anybody. I know it shouldn’t need saying, but it is the reality we live in here…
I hope you have enjoyed this little trip down the rabbit hole with me today and in the future, just be safe and careful and you will be fine…till then, keep your powder dry.