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Tech Spec: V20N3

By Rick Vasquez

Silencers have been regulated since the enactment of the National Firearms Act (NFA) of 1934. The NFA is under Title 26 of the United States Code, which is the tax code. In an effort to curb violence by organized crime hierarchies and celebrated criminals, congress wanted to regulate certain firearms with the passage of the NFA. The population at the time would not accept gun control, so to get around this congress passed a “making” or transfer tax of $200.00 on firearms that would be enumerated in the NFA.

Statutes and regulation regarding silencers

Until 1968 the only firearms regulations were the regulations in the NFA. In 1968, with the enactment of the Gun Control Act (GCA), firearms would now also be regulated by the criminal code and a silencer would be identified as a firearm. The GCA is Title 18 of the United States Code and this is part of the criminal code. Unlawful use of a firearm or possession of a silencer by a prohibited person would now also be a violation of the criminal code. As we previously stated the NFA is a tax code. Though there is a significant penalty to violate the NFA, Title 18 has more robust penalties for violations.

Prior to 1986 a silencer was simply defined as “a muffler or a silencer for any kind of gun whether or not such a gun is included within the definition of firearm in the bill”. The silencer definition remained unchanged until the passage of the Firearms Owners Protection Act in 1986 (FOPA). The definitions of silencer would now also include all of the separate components of a silencer. Definition of a firearm in in Title 26 enacted in 1934:

Since 1934 treasury regulations of the NFA, 26 C.F.R. §179.11 also defines silencer as “Muffler or Silencer. Any device for diminishing the report of a portable weapon such as rifle, carbine, pistol, revolver, machine gun, submachinegun, shotguns, fowling piece, or other device from which a shot, bullet, or projectile may be discharged by an explosive, and is not limited to mufflers or silencers for “firearms”...


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