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Legally Armed: V20N3

By Teresa G. Ficaretta, Esq. & Johanna Reeves, Esq.

Regulation of Firearm Silencers Under Federal Law

In the past few years there has been a significant surge in consumer interest in firearm mufflers or silencers. This is due, in part, to changes in state law that previously prohibited private consumer possession of silencers. Now that state laws in over 40 states allow consumers to lawfully acquire silencers, and in light of the advances in silencer design and manufacture, silencers are one of the fastest growing segments of the firearms industry. Given the increasing volume of silencers being manufactured, imported, and distributed in the United States, it is essential that federal firearms licensees (FFLs) have a thorough knowledge of the laws regulating these devices. This article provides an overview of federal law pertaining to the manufacture, importation, and distribution of firearm silencers.

I. Regulation under the Gun Control Act and National Firearms Act

Silencers are regulated as “firearms” under the Gun Control Act of 1968 (GCA) and the National Firearms Act (NFA). GCA regulation means that silencers are subject to the following requirements:

NFA firearms, including silencers, are subject to more stringent regulation, including the following: