Is A Suppressor Delayed a Suppressor Denied?

Matt in FL writes:

I just read an article that ATF Form 1’s are estimated at a year, and with Form 4’s taking 6-9 months, I was just wondering, is there a point where people give up on the system as it is?  If they give up, is it by giving up the acquisition of those items entirely, or by circumventing the process?  Where is that “give up point?”  If wait times increased by another 30%, then suppressor wait times would be at a full year.  I think that the current 6 month wait is already completely ludicrous, but what if it went to a year?  What would happen then?  At what point does it become “too oppressive” if it’s not there already?  The system as it currently exists seems almost completely hopeless, and some may say “that’s the point.”  I’m not entirely sure it is.  I think it’s much more likely to be apathy and bureaucratic inertia than malice.  If they had more staffing at the NFA branch, it’d move faster, but I haven’t really heard anyone advocating (officially, legislatively) for more staff to be added.  How do we make that happen?

comments

  1. avatar Jeff says:

    Why would a government whose outward stance is that “gunz r bad” want to make it faster and easier for people to obtain deadly assassin equipment like suppressors and SBRs? They probably see themselves as doing you a favor for allowing you to have them at all.

    1. avatar pwrserge says:

      Because there is firm legal precedent that an unreasonable delay is tantamount to denial and is therefore unconstitutional.

      1. avatar Avid Reader says:

        Don’t forget it’s complicated by the tendency of this administration to ignore both the law and the Constitution when they find either inhibiting, or even inconvenient.

        1. avatar pwrserge says:

          Oh they can ignore it… The circuits will not and neither will the SCotUS. The idea is to not challenge the constitutionality of requiring a tax. Challenge the undue burden of the delay.

        2. avatar Julian says:

          That’s right, it’s limited to this administration…

      2. avatar Guy says:

        I understand there’s also legal precedent (admittedly, in contract-space) that a person is under no obligation to pursue an exercise in futility, even if required to do so by his contract. I wonder if one of our more legal-minded readers might comment on how that logic could or couldn’t apply to cases like these and NFA weapons applications?

        1. avatar BDub says:

          I’m not certain any contract law would apply here, as we are not talking about a mutually agreed upon situation. In other words, you did not agree to the law, it just IS.

  2. avatar ChainsawWieldingManiac says:

    All I can say is this: that backlog is growing because people clearly can live with waiting that long for their NFA item.

    Also, they did add more folks to the NFA branch – both examiners and assistants. The BATFE is not oblivious to this issue, even if it’s not a high priority.

    1. avatar tfunk says:

      From what I understand the people who were added were taken away due to furloughs. Could be incorrect, though.

    2. Didn’t they run a story on here about the new examiners getting axed because of the sequester?

      1. avatar Matt in FL says:

        My understanding is that the two comments above me are correct. I don’t believe they added any new examiners, but they did add a couple dozen (I think) “research assistants.” The reason they didn’t add actual examiners is because those positions are individually budgeted, and they can’t add more without adjusting the budget, y’know, in Congress. However, the assistants are classified as temporary employees, and their payroll comes from a different pot. Unfortunately, being temporary, they are subject to furlough, and they were only on the job for a couple months when the sequester made that happen.

    3. avatar johnnyappleseed says:

      no, that backlog is growing because people don’t want to go to jail

      1. avatar Matt in FL says:

        And because they have no other choice.

    4. avatar UnapologeticallyAmerican says:

      This is only going to get worse. Reducing the size of Government means reducing the number of people in the ATF office going through our paperwork. They aren’t cutting back on DHS swat teams and equipment, so where are the cuts coming from….. oh thats right, the people who help customers…

      1. avatar William Burke says:

        I agree, to the extent that a downsized clerical staff would increase delays, and that’s exactly what they would downsize, of course.

        But let’s not fool ourselves into thinking the staff is there to “assist us”; it couldn’t be more obvious that they are basically in place to obstruct, rather than facilitate.

  3. avatar OHgunner says:

    The whole NFA system needs to get thrown out. Suppressors, SBRs, MGs, et al. are all items that are utilized by the military and are exactly the items that the founders intended for citizens to have ready in order to protect the state, or fight against a tyrannical government. They should be available at ANY store for any qualified person to buy (aka any American Citizen of military age or above) and they should be able to put down their money and walk out with them.

    The current system IS a deliberate road block to ownership, and that was the intent of the whole system from the get-go. When the NFA was instituted, the $200 fee was specifically chosen because it was an amount that was cost prohibitive to the ordinary citizen to obtain. The wait time is just another roadblock/deterrent.

    1. avatar Howdy says:

      You beat me to this.

      1. avatar Ardent says:

        Likewise, beat me too it. I was looking at suppressors just this very morning and thinking I’d like to have one of those (again). Then there is the forms and the wait and . . . and so I walked away with my ammo and the sight I needed and wouldn’t have thought of the suppressors again if not for this (thanks guys). What exactly is the NFA check that isn’t the background check? How could it be that there is a compelling government interest for an accessory that isn’t there for the weapon it’s self?

        I think we’re just about due for a challenge to the whole process. I’d like to hear the argument that a suppressor is more dangerous than the gun it’s attached to from someone with a straight face.

      2. avatar BDub says:

        NFA & GCA need to be repealed in thier entirety. SBR’s, Suppressors, and hell even post 86 AUTOs should be fair game to anyone who can pass a BGC (period)

    2. avatar William Burke says:

      While I have agreed with countless statements by others as much as I agree with yours, I would like to make it “abundantly clear” that I could NOT agree with you one iota more!

  4. avatar Howdy says:

    We don’t need more government. Need to repeal the tax and NFA status for silencers and short barrels. Just need to be able to purchase these parts like any other non receiver part.

    See, everyone gets what they want. Profits soar for manufacturers. We allow the government to get a cut. (this really needs to be how Americans think about government) Consumers can actually buy things in an instant.

    What other non seasonal goods require a year to purchase? I can’t think of any.

    1. avatar Russ Bixby says:

      A UL certification.

      1. avatar Dr. Kenneth Noisewater says:

        That’s not a legally-required cert issued by a government agency, and there are indeed competitors to Underwriters Laboratories.

        Of course, the Feds could just outsource regulation to self-regulatory organizations they way they have done with securities (FINRA and other NRSROs).

        1. avatar Howdy says:

          Hmm. Interesting. I really didn’t know. Are there other examples? Really.

        2. avatar Russ Bixby says:

          @K,N. — No, it’s not. However, it’s required by certain governmental entities before one can do certain types of business. Also, the question was about “non-seasonal goods,” so I stand by my whining.

          @Howdy — Not to my (admittedly limited) knowledge.

    2. avatar William Burke says:

      I believe I pointed this out once before, but I’m not certain. This business about “silencers” is totally a matter of societal interpretation. In Finland, I have read several times, suppressors are no harder to obtain than a firearm, simply because a premium is placed upon not unduly disturbing one’s neighbors, be it a farmhouse or school or office building that may be within earshot.

      Why is it seen in such a different light in the formerly United States of America? I’d like to hear your opinions. Is it the image of “silencers” derived from gangster movies? What do you think?

  5. avatar Howdy says:

    You beat me to this.

  6. avatar Akira says:

    Agreed with OHGunner (does that happen to stand for “Ohio Gunner?” I’m an Ohio gunner too!) The whole NFA should be repealed.

    I generally agree with the sentiment that “a right delayed is a right denied.” Maybe there’s something I’m missing here, but I fail to see how processing your payment, doing a background investigation, and adding your name to a list of people who are allowed to own NFA items can possibly take 9 months. I’m going through similar crap with my CCW: I took the class and payed the Sheriff all the necessary fees: now they tell me it takes “2 to 3 weeks.” How can it possibly take that long to cash my check, do a background check, add my name to a list of people who are allowed to carry a concealed handgun, and print out a little card??

    Think about it: would people tolerate it if voter registration took 9 months? What if they made you get a special tax stamp to write political opinion pieces, and the approval process took 9 months? How about this: we make gay marriages require a special tax stamp, and it takes 9 months to approve. If any of these situations came to be, there would be an uproar.

    Maybe we need to band together and cause a similar uproar.

    1. avatar Russ Bixby says:

      In the case of expanding the legal definition of marriage, there was a 237 year wait, or thereabouts.

      As for tax stamps on everything, I think we all know what that begot…

      Hopefully our uproar will achieve results a tidge more quickly.

    2. avatar Ardent says:

      Ohio gunner here too. . .

    3. avatar OHgunner says:

      Thanks Akira. It does indeed stand for Ohio gunner, glad to see Ohio well represented here!

      As for the CCW wait, I had mine in hand 36 hours after going to the Sheriffs office. They quoted me 2-4 weeks too. Unlike the NFA, they generally run ahead of schedule in my area. Hopefully they get yours just as fast.

  7. avatar Shire-man says:

    I’ve been writing my reps about this for a while. Some are more responsive than others. Most recently I wrote Ayotte about it. Asking why with NICS I can walk into a shop and be out with a gun and ammo in 10 minutes or less but for a safety device that would make me a better neighbor I have to wait 9 months or more.

    I also asked what is it that an BATF check is doing that makes it more thorough than a NICS check and against my better judgement I threw in a line something like “if NICS is so flawed then shouldnt all firearms purchases go through the BATF check?”

    No response yet. Not even a form letter.

    There’s something wrong with a system that supports laws and regs in the face of blatant contradiction and stupidity.

    1. avatar Russ Bixby says:

      Now I’ve horrible visions of all store purchases going through BATF, and therefor taking several years.

      1. avatar Robert M says:

        You should buy a handgun in Maryland. It took 3 1/2 Months to get the OK back from MD state a process that under law should take no longer then 7 days.

        Thanks
        Robert

        1. avatar Russ Bixby says:

          Ouch. I’ll stick to Kansas, but thanks just the same.

  8. avatar Henry Bowman says:

    You don’t fix the problem of government by making it larger. The best way to ensure folks receive their suppressors faster is by abolishing the ATF, not by adding more bureaucrats.

  9. avatar TangledThorns says:

    Write your state’s US Senators like I have.

  10. avatar Russ Bixby says:

    A few years back, the winter hereabouts actually got tidge chilly. That happens now and again, albeit less and less often.

    At its chilliest, for no technical reason of which I’m aware, the nearest (by several miles) filling station/convenience store programmed their pumps to go from fast to slow $1.50 before the end of a prepaid fill, with slow being at about 1.2¢/second.

    That’s right: over two minutes of pump crawl in sub-zero with heavy wind. While I’m O.K. in those conditions, a lot of people would give up in disgust and flee to the comfort of their auto without finishing their fill or getting change, which was (I firmly believe) the point.

    I found a new station, but beforehand I told ’em why was leaving in a nastygram left on their door. They’re now under the third new management in as many years.

    Unfortunately, it’s a tidge more involved to go find a new government or via boycott force a rapid change in the national management.

  11. avatar tfunk says:

    I agree that the NFA should be repealed. Will that ever happen? I dunno. What I DO know is that I have been waiting for over THREE MONTHS for approval of a Form 3 transfer from a dealer in GA to my local dealer. Which means I haven’t even started the wait for the actual transfer to ME. This is BS.

  12. avatar Tim U says:

    Never going to happen.

    You will receive exactly 0% support from the Democratic party, and nowhere near enough Republicans care about the issue to do anything anyway.

    NFA wait times are just going to get worse.

    The only hope, distant at best right now, would be to get the SC to strike the NFA down because of constitutional causes. Given how DC v. Heller went, I doubt we’ll see this happen.

    1. avatar pwrserge says:

      We can have it struck down on “unreasonable delay” grounds rather than constitutionality. I think a 1983 suit would work great in such a case as it will be hard to argue that a 1 year delay on purchasing an otherwise legal item does not constitute an undue burden.

    2. avatar Russ Bixby says:

      Hmmm… Good point. I’ll have to see if I can find one stamped “made in Kansas.”

  13. avatar Scott says:

    I just wish I could have this “problem” in Iowa.

  14. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

    I used to do background checks. Through local, state and federal. Unless there was a close match on something that needed further checking, a thorough check takes less than 5 minutes.
    Fingerprint scanners take a bit longer, smudges, light rolls, etc.. add another 30 minutes.
    A check on a serialized item, suppressor, firearm, etc., another 3 minutes.
    So even at a slackers pace with coffee breaks, pee breaks, lunch breaks… well, you get the drift. A person can do a LOT of checks per day.
    I’m at month 9 for my suppressor.

  15. avatar Kyle V. says:

    I submitted my paperwork in June. June 28th my check was cashed. I called them for an update and they said it was 11 months from date of check cashed at best.

    292 days to go!

    Sad.

    1. avatar Russ Bixby says:

      There are federal commerce laws against not providing a product within one half year of accepting payment.

      It’s not like building a ship, an endeavor in which a significant delay would be understandable.

      Plonkers.

  16. avatar In Memphis says:

    I was considering an SBR or Suppressor at one point but not anymore. Trying to buy ammo is an effing joke as it is.

    On another related note. I dont inderstand why a short barrel shotgun without a stock is an NFA item but a short barrel rifle without a stock is just a pistol. Fvck logic, I guess.

  17. avatar S&WFan says:

    The regulation of suppressors is total BS at its finest, but they are not a firearm. They are merely a firearm accessory that isnt required to make a firearm function. I feel that we should be able to purchase them along with short barrels just as easily as say picking up some new grips for a 1911, yet I fail to see anything in the 2a that mentions a right to these items. This is not a constitutional issue, but an issue of (actual) common sense. Anybody can buy a hacksaw or sweat a tube full of grommits and brass mesh onto a barrel, but of course nobody would EVER do that because its illegal unless they allow you. Disband the ATF and repeal NFA, its a horrible waste of resources that only harasses the law abiding.

    1. avatar Ardent says:

      I think it is a constitutional issue. It’s an arbitrary law lacking a clear governmental interest that creates an undue burden. There’s two constitutional challenges already.

  18. avatar Ardent says:

    This is more of the same as CCW laws, gun free zones, SBR, SBS, suppressors and full auto. It makes it illegal to have something that might be a precursor to a crime and as such fails constitutional muster. Further it lacks the ability to prevent any of these things from coming into criminal possession. Clearly with a few parts and some googled information, lacking a permit one could be strolling into a gun free zone with a concealed, full auto, suppressed SBR in a matter of hours. If homicide is on your to do list committing a host of lesser crimes is hardly an obstacle.

    “Imagine my chagrin when after I killed those people I was charged with the lesser offenses of possessing an unlawfully altered gun” said no murderer ever.

    1. avatar C says:

      Bubble wrap, duct tape, dremmel. That’s about all you need.

      1. avatar C says:

        ….or so i’ve heard…..

  19. avatar jwm says:

    Suppressor? SBR? NFA? Said the California resident. How are you going to get the SCOTUS to rule on the constitutionality of a processing delay when California has no process to delay? The SCOTUS will probably say that the Ca. system works fine, let’s use that as the national model.

  20. avatar Matt in FL says:

    So from the comments above, the answer I’m getting is basically “it’s hopeless.” Am I reading that right?

    Although the act of circumventing the system is easy, the punishments are so draconian as to make that an unreasonable course of action, save for the “solvent traps” that some folks may or may not have waaay in the bottom of the toolbox for use only in the event of TEOTWAWKI. Nobody is actually making and using their own silencers anytime soon.

    I realize that repealing the NFA laws (or at least certain relevant portions) and abolishing ATF is the preferred outcome, but I don’t see either of those reasonably on the horizon in the near future, just because the votes aren’t there, but that doesn’t mean we give up on it. A reasonably possible solution is the addition of examiners, but that requires someone to put it in the budget, and I don’t see anyone racing to do that. Why are our representatives not responsive to our needs in doing either of these things, and how do we change that?

    I want to fix the hopelessly broken system, but I don’t know where to start or what I, personally, can do. Lots of people bitch about (or at least acknowledge) the problem, but for most of them that’s where it stops. Very few people are actually doing anything, and I want to be part of that group, and encourage others to do the same, but I don’t know where to begin. Ideas?

    1. avatar jwm says:

      Sorry, Matt. This is the interwebz. We don’t solve problems. We just spend hours gass bagging.

    2. avatar Thomas Paine says:

      another option is to promote gun ownership. Take that neighbor to the range this weekend!

      1. avatar Matt in Idaho says:

        This! NFA items are becoming way more popular and really really fast.

        The only reason gun control has ever been stopped had nothing to do with the constition or facts or what’s right and fair for a free society.

        The only reason gun control has ever been stopped was 100% because voters demanded it of the people who’s financial incentives depend on votes.

        Once there are enough gun owner’s who have a short AR and a can then the NFA or the hughs amendment will be in trouble.

    3. avatar Henry Bowman says:

      “Government is not the solution to our problem, government IS the problem.”
      – Ronald Reagan

      We must address the problem itself, not merely the symptoms. But appealing to the cause to fix itself is an exercise in futility. I began by recognizing that I am FREE and that any attempt to abridge that freedom is unjust and unworthy of any recognition of legitimacy. Then, I began the daunting task of helping others to recognize that they are also FREE. When enough people recognize that humanity is most happy, prosperous, and safe when interacting voluntarily, the problem will wither away.

      I don’t know if you count that as “doing anything”, but I’ve seen progress with it. YMMV.

      1. avatar Matt in FL says:

        Of course TTAG’s resident anti-government commentator would say that. But that doesn’t fix the immediate problem. I want a silencer (and an SBR, and …) and I would prefer not to wait a year for them. Proclaiming myself to be FREE doesn’t get that done in any form or fashion. I suppose if I was really FREE then I’d just make my own, damn the torpedoes, and to hell with the consequences. However, I’m not willing to lose my life and livelihood in pursuit of a range toy. So what else you got?

        1. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

          How about trying to get a member of congress to sponsor a bill. One that says after a certain time, with no answer, it is presumed in the affirmative. Say 60 days. That’s plenty of time. Especially when one can show that their check was cashed, and that the item was paid for.
          I’m in a blue state so no go here. Texas maybe? Ted Cruz anyone? Someone?

  21. avatar stateisevil says:

    It is beyond outrageous that SBR’s, suppressors, and full auto’s are regulated at all. At minimum, full auto’s and SBR’s should be treated like any other firearm. Gun mufflers should be treated like flash lights or magazines.

    1. avatar Russ Bixby says:

      Just so long as your flashlight hasn’t too many light sources or use too more than 7 cells…

  22. avatar Bob says:

    I’m in total agreement, NFA wait time blows.
    My Form 1 SBR took 6 months, coming in on Feb, 14th, this year. It was for a Sig522P so the stock addition process was a single pin out add stock single pin back in. It wasn’t bad because I already paid for and had the sig in hand to play with in pistol form. Just had to wait until a stock showed up on gbroker and store it at a friends house. Out a very limited amount of cash.

    Form 4’s are painful because you hand over a large lump of money and then have to wait to be “allowed” to take the item home. If I could “buy” it, wait and then actually pay for it when the stamp comes back I would care much less about the wait. Or even put it on layaway or something. I trying to pick up a 7.62 suppressor for an eventual Blackout build and I’m having serious trouble parting with the $$ with nothing to play with until potentially a year later. Hard sell.

  23. avatar justin says:

    Not trying to be a debbie downer, but talk about it all you want… they’ve proven nothing will change… ever.

  24. avatar Matt in Idaho says:

    The only reason marijuana is becoming legal is because a big enough number of voters felt it was important.

    IMHO, the number of NFA owners within the gun community is still really small but it is growing at an incredible rate.

  25. avatar mike says:

    Let’s flip this around for fun. Here’s the government’s own official inflation calculator:

    http://www.bls.gov/data/inflation_calculator.htm

    The NFA was enacted in 1934. $200 back then is roughly $3485 today. Would you rather 1) pay $200 and wait a ridiculous amount of time, or 2) pay $3485 and have your NFA item approved within a few weeks. Basically the silver lining is…. just be glad the gov’t isn’t adjusting for inflation like everything else out there in the economy.

  26. avatar mike says:

    Let’s flip this around for fun. Here’s the government’s own official inflation calculator:

    http://www.bls.gov/data/inflation_calculator.htm

    The NFA was enacted in 1934. $200 back then is roughly $3485 today. Would you rather 1) pay $200 and wait a ridiculous amount of time, or 2) pay $3485 and have your NFA item approved within a few weeks. Basically the silver lining is…. just be glad the gov’t isn’t adjusting for inflation like everything else out there in the economy.

  27. avatar SpeleoFool says:

    Here’s how we make that happen: drop the NFA status for suppressors!

    Suppressors are more of a safety accessory than a dangerous item that warrants control and regulation. We could either keep throwing more ATF employees at the problem to bring the wait time down, or we could take suppressors out of the queue so that the remaining items can be processed faster.

    I’ve already written my reps recently to ask for exactly this. IMO, anything over 30 days is unreasonable. 6+ months for a suppressor is well into absurd territory, and a 1+ year wait would be inexcusable.

    1. avatar Russ Bixby says:

      Y’know, in this area most European nations have us beat.

      Suppressors are good for ears. ‘Nuff said,

      Kinda embarrassing, it is.

      1. avatar SpeleoFool says:

        The Wikipedia entry for suppressors mentions a variety of regulations for suppressors in Europe ranging from total ban on civilian ownership, legal-but-with-Draconian-restrictions that make practical ownership impossible, regulations consistent with firearm ownership (e.g., each requires a permit) to no regulation at all. There’s at least precedent to deregulate suppressors. Not that we should be looking to Europe for legal precedents. It’s interesting that there’s such a wide variety of regulations for suppressors, though.

  28. avatar DAN III says:

    How many of you would be willing to cough up $500 – $1,000 to hire and feed an attorney for a civil rights lawsuit against the BATFE ? It would most likely cost $30k – 50k to do this.

    Thoughts ?

    1. avatar Steve B says:

      If we hired a good attorney and this had a real chance, I would be willing to contribute to the legal fees along the lines of $500.00. Perhaps even a $1000.00 if it really looked promising.

  29. avatar GS650G says:

    I bet SWAT gets silencers in a month tops. After all, they can be trusted with gear like this but you can’t/

  30. avatar William Burke says:

    “I think it’s much more likely to be apathy and bureaucratic inertia than malice.”

    It may be worth pointing out that a policy handed down quietly from the Executive Branch (ehem) or from DOJ does not necessarily imply any malice on the part of the ATF in handling your request.

    1. avatar Matt in FL says:

      What policy is that, exactly?

      1. avatar William Burke says:

        A policy to add undue delays on application approvals. Did you think I was talking about Obama cheating on his golf scores?

  31. avatar Anton says:

    how about starting a kickstarter project to collectively fund a lawsuit to repel NFA (and/or ATF)
    and to change popular image of suppressors, sbr, etc.

    1. avatar Steve B says:

      I like this idea a lot. Those Kickstarter programs are capable of raising a nice sum of funds

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