Silencers are often referred to as suppressors. The best descriptive term is gun muffler. In New Zealand, which has a strong tradition of gun ownership, gun mufflers are unregulated and cheap. They are for sale over the counter or in the mail. The above ads or similar ones can be seen on the online buying and selling site for New Zealand, trademeco.nz. From trademe.co.nz . . .

This Silencer will fit any centrefire rifle with 17CM of exposed barrel with a diameter smaller than 19mm.

Takes away the loud crack (down to about a 22 magnum noise) and helps protect your ears from permanent hearing loss.

Super strong tooling grade alloy construction designed to withstand bursts of Full Auto fire, making it virtually indestructible on a hunting rifle and keeping the weight down to just 370 grams.

There is no licence required to purchase these in New Zealand.

Rimfire gun mufflers are commonly available for under $20. Consider that a New Zealand dollar is current valued a .65 U.S. dollars.

In New Zealand, this economy .22 rimfire gun muffler is selling for about $15. Note the mention at the end of the unregulated status: “There are no age or licence restrictions on silencer sales.” In New Zealand, a 12-year-old boy or girl can make some money doing chores, drop by the local sporting goods store and pick up a gun muffler over the counter for a few dollars.

In New Zealand, a country that even leftists would include in their definition of “developed,” the murder rate is very low: .9 per hundred thousand. It’s a little lower than the U.K., and a little higher than Germany. It’s close to that of culturally similar groups in the United States, where, if you exclude American black and Hispanic crime, the murder rate is about 1.5 per 100k. If you exclude the murders committed by illegal aliens, the U.S. rate for similar cultural groups is even closer.

New Zealand tends to be a darling of the left. The governments move back and forth between far left Socialist and Libertarian philosophies. They do not see the need to place heavy regulation or taxes on gun mufflers. In this they follow much of Europe, where possession and use of silencers/gun mufflers is considered to be polite. Their use protects hearing and reduces noise pollution.

In the United States, a person who desires a gun muffler must submit extensive paperwork to the federal government, pay a $200 tax, wait perhaps six months, and then take possession of a device that most amateur builders could create in an afternoon. Once in possession, they cannot lend the device to a friend without the owner being present.

The law is a holdover from the 1930’s when the Roosevelt administration was attempting to bring as much regulatory power under federal government control as it could. No reason for the $200 dollar tax on gun mufflers was given during the congressional debates on Criminal Use of Firearm Silencers in 2007).

No reason was given for the extreme penalty either. Possession of an unlicensed gun muffler was made a felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. In 1934, $200 was equivalent to  $3,500 dollars today. $10,000 had the purchasing power of $175,000 dollars today.

When considered as a safety device, the restrictions on gun mufflers in the U.S. have been one of the biggest public health fiascoes created by the government. It has resulted in tens of millions of people’s hearing loss over 80 years of draconian regulation. To test this hypothesis, visit a gun show and look for hearing aids, or simply ask older members of the gun culture. You will have to raise your voice.

Cross cultural comparisons are tricky, but the New Zealand and European experiences show that regulation of gun mufflers is superfluous in the United States.

©2014 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
Link to Gun Watch

76 Responses to New Zealand Silencers: Cheap and Unregulated

      • The comment was all in good fun. The USA is making thing things Illegaler at a extremely fast pace. I have family in Australia, they are visiting now. I should have turned the comparison around. I’ve worked with Kiwis in Afghan. One of them delivered me food while in the hospital in bahgram.

    • Apparently not. I’m sure the Kiwis would be insulted.

      BTW, we don’t just regulate the heck out of silencers. We also regulate — with the same penalties — parts of silencers and simply parts that could be used to make a silencer (depending on your “intent,” of course): “In 1986, this Act amended the NFA definition of “silencer” by adding combinations of parts for silencers and any part intended for use in the assembly or fabrication of a silencer.” …if they really wanted to, the ATF could claim that I intended to fabricate a silencer with my drill press and put the screws to me, leaving me bankrupt trying to defend my “intent” for owning a drill press in court against a 10-year felony vacay in Club Fed charge…

      • Makes paying a crack whore $40 to drive a car through their house start to sound “equally” reasonable.
        F your a_ _hole neighbors needing jobs. There’s a reason they don’t work in the private sector and you need to make them explain THAT sh_t to you every single day. They might still lie to you, but they’ll die young of an f-ng anureism trying to keep their story straight.

    • In terms of state regulation vs the lack thereof, it’s more like the other way around. Obviously NZ is not US, but it’s generally more free than Australia. For example, they didn’t ban semi-autos outright, and they don’t have nearly as uptight laws regarding porn and such, and less regulation of the Internet.

      • Bread and Circus Games.
        They guve you slack and all it costs is your tax $.
        Your neighbor needs a new job with no upward mobility.

    • We are like the polite younger brother. We are lucky as our gun laws are reasonable where you undergo a basic police cheak to see if you are a fit and proper person and have a place to secure a firearm. If you want to purcase millitary style or full auto firearms you need additional classes of liscences but that costs $200 and a more secure safe.

      • Nz is an interesting place. It must be pretty awesome considering that they regulate how much you can visit. We just wish the attitude would change on supressors.

  1. “Cross cultural comparisons are tricky, but the New Zealand and European experiences show that regulation of gun mufflers is superfluous in the United States.” The regulation of any firearm or accessory in the United States is not only superfluous but criminally anti-constitutional.

  2. The fact that a country like New Zealand doesn’t even regulate suppressors, even when their firearm regulations are much more strict than ours, is more evidence that suppressors pose no risk to the general public. Although I doubt they will ever be removed from the NFA any time soon, this is an argument that American gun enthusiasts need to make more often. “Hey, they don’t have any problems with them in New Zealand.”

    The number of privately owned suppressors in the United States is quickly approaching 1 million. Yet how often does a silencer actually show up at a crime scene? While the ATF databases surely have enough space to store trillions of Form 1’s, it’s possible there will come a time (likely during a Republican administration, if we ever have one again) that the government just decides that keeping track of suppressors is no longer worth the manpower. Whether they’d be considered firearms, serialized and require a background check or whether they’d just become completely unregulated like in New Zealand is anybody’s guess.

  3. Even in anti-gun England, muffling your gun is just considered good manners.

    I’m glad to see somebody paying attention to prices.

    Maxim silencers used to sell for what, $2 in hardware stores before the $200 tax was enacted?

  4. So if you control for certain demographics and our murder rate drops down to comparable Anglo countries, maybe we don’t have a gun problem after all? Maybe we have one that only the radicals have noticed…

    • This argument, as much truth as it may contain, will never fly. With all the data, all the science, all the math behind the concentrations and geography of the “gun violence problem” we arrive at the conclusion that all must be barred from their rights in order not to shame those who are not responsible with them.

    • Well, you’d have to “control for certain demographics” in those other countries as well, then.

      And, more importantly, if there’s a difference in how much you end up having to adjust, you’ll also need to explain why there is that difference there – what made it so.

      • Ya, the anti’s goal just isn’t worth the tax, much less the price. And the goal is only there becuse they didn’t hear Fu<k You, and STFU enough as a child.

  5. Suppressor regulation, like full auto (for the nube: “kill everything but what you were originally pointing at”) weapons is an evil broke-di<k evil house of blue (D) bullsh_t from stupid pissant small blue POS blue states. Yeah we see you up there Charles Rengel, mr. Not voted on last minute legislative rider a-hole (D).

  6. American silencers are hugely expensive by comparison. Since silencers are so hard to get, manufacturers charge whatever they want.

    • Many of them charge what they want, not because of scarcity, but because the government has deep pockets. They don’t need your money, not from you directly. They have their government contracts and get your money whether you like it or not.

    • American silencers need to be built to last many thousands of rounds, because of all the trouble and expense of acquiring one. So they have to be overengineered and durable and maintainable.

      Where silencers are unregulated, they can make them cheap because their users don’t expect them to be an investment. They’re a consumable accessory.

      $20 suppressors that start to lose effectiveness after 500 rounds and are impossible to clean aren’t going to go over well here where you have to setup a trust, pay $200, and wait 6 months to get one.

    • American silencers are hugely expensive because we expect them to last forever. Thusly they have to be engineered for durability and cleanability.

      Unregulated, unregistered silencers can be built to be consumable items, because when it gets too dirty or worn out you can just throw it in the trash and pick up another for 20 bux.

      You can’t do that when you need to have a legal trust, pay $200 tax and wait 6 months.

      • Ya, we want them to work, so we pay for some R&D, to suppressor mfg. companies who can’t be assured of their continued ability to market their products in our markets (in anything other than marginally small quantities) and also heavily obstructed from export. So they have to make bank earily and often with each sale.
        Plus, get the right one and you will know just holding it, that you have purchased something created with great forethought, and quality.

        I HIGHLY recommend Yankee Hill Machine, and if you do some homework, I believe you’ll agree.

  7. Excellent read Dean, though I gotta admit that I enjoy your all too NFA enlightening appearance in episode 33 more. If you thirst for an end to NFA as I do, you can catch an unprecedented gathering of 2A and gun world stars giving their NFA testimony in episode 35…all at NFAisnotOK.com

  8. I sat and passed my New Zealand Firearms License at 16 and purchased my first firearm at 18, a 10/22. At that time a can was $15 and good for approx. 1000 rounds or so (the 10/22 came threaded). All that taken into consideration I’m glad I can now call myself an American and live in a Second Amendment friendly state (or am I trans-racial, after all New Zealand is three islands in the Pacific so does that make me PacificIslander/American? I’m just so very confused……….)

  9. I find it amazing we are not allowed to muffle a firearm in the USA without a lengthy expensive pile of red tape. The fact a small Country like NZ has greater sense sends the message home, the suppressor thing is 100% political without one ounce of smarts.

    • Same as full auto weapons, …
      The ATF can only regulate what permits it. That means moment-to-moment, so it is absolute Bullsh_t (it is wrongful) for any of them to claim they do it in the name of safety. And if not for safety, your dog’s got to soft a collar and too short a leash.

  10. Wonder why Bloomberg funded Center for Gun Policy & Research at Hopkins doesn’t take a strong stand favoring suppressors? Seems like hearing loss is more akin to a medical problem those claiming violence is a public health problem.

  11. I’ve been saying this for a long time: Silencer/suppressor regulation and taxation makes no sense. It is for the public’s greater good if people quiet their firearms. All those complaints of home owners living next to gun ranges? Would we still have that problem if you could buy rifle silencers for $100 a pop and in nearly every big box store? Probably not. Shooters would do it for their own selfish reasons, namely to preserve their hearing, and everyone would benefit with less noise pollution.

    • Mufflers are on cars. Don’t use that word.

      Nothing causes a car’s engine to burn more fuel than a muffler, not even chaining it to a stump, so we (“global warming” a-hole) “kill the planet” with a device that causes more burnt fuel “pollution” in order to cut down on some “noise pollution”. FU ignorant POS green wing of the evil blue liberal house of (D).

      BUT Yes, suppressors/silencers are awesome. Nothing like broke-back hollywood’s depiction, but still real great.

  12. I’m beating a dead horse here, but suppressors offer a minute tactical advantage. The SOF guys I worked with seldomely used them. The proof that they haven’t been used in many crimes is not the availability, just like SBRs… What am I saying? everyone knows…except not.

    • Aguilla powderless .22 will ~ get you to suppressed .22 LR Decibel level, are available retail, and don’t require the tax stamp.

      Several factory pistol rounds are loaded at or below subsonic level, and could be suppressed by other means.

      • >> Aguilla powderless .22 will ~ get you to suppressed .22 LR Decibel level

        Out of a rifle, yes (CCI CB Long & Short will also do the trick). Out of a handgun, not really. And it won’t cycle any semi-auto.

      • What other means? I’m under impression that anything used to lower the sound level of firearm’s report is considered a silencer as far as ATF is concerned. Even oil filter or plastic bottle duct taped to muzzle.

  13. I sat my New Zealand Firearms License at 16 and purchased my first firearm at 18, it was a 10/22. At that time a can was $15 and was good for approximately 1000 rounds or so (the 10/22 came threaded). All that taken into consideration I’m glad I can now call myself an American and live in a Second Amendment friendly state (or am I trans-racial, after all New Zealand is three islands in the pacific so does that make me pacific island/American.…?)

    • Unfortunately you have to riot and loot to be taken serious these days. Someone told me that alllivesmatter did not in fact matter. It was on the internet so I had to believe them.

  14. Now I don’t know the laws very well but what is stopping you from importing a New Zealand Can and paying the $200 tax stamp…

  15. When I lived in Finland working as a Marine Security Guard, I discovered that cans are similarly unregulated. NADA. ZIP. ZILCH. Walk in with cash, buy can. They were like 120 EUROS for the cheaper ones, and worked their way based on quality of construction.

  16. I wonder how the quality of overseas silencers compare with our domestic ones (Silencerco, Gemtech, Liberty, AAC, Sig, etc).

    • The suppressors we have access to here in NZ are on a different playing field to your domestic units. Because our market is aimed at hunting and not lifetime investments they are generally super lightweight alloys and have 10-30k life expectancies with little service. 3d printed titaniums and carbon fiber are still cheaper than a 1000nzd so about 650usd. I would go as far as saying that our unregulated competitive market has driven innovation to world leading standards.

  17. What I’d like to know is why cans are so expensive in US even after you pay the stupid tax. It’s not like it puts any burden on the manufacturer. Sure, they have to get the license to manufacture (or import) them, and that costs something, but surely not to the extend of adding several hundred dollars to the price of each item?

    • NFA might have something to do with that as well. When the market is very restricted by dumb laws and therefore small, all expenses for R and D, tooling etc. need to be included in price of few products, driving it up compared to mass production.

  18. The bottom line is uncle Sam likes getting the $200 tax. That is not going away. But maybe the extended waiting time to get a muffler can be eliminated. When I can walk out with a gun the same day of purchase why not a muffler also on the same day? American suppressor Association get on it!

    • That’s an incremental goal of the ASA. Get cans off of the NFA and just require a NICS check. Maybe pay the tax as if it were a sales tax, too.

  19. And on a similar subject, can we please deregulate sawn off shotguns? The whole NFA tax stamp 8 month waiting period is total horseshit because it be circumvented by a thug with 10 minutes of free time and a hacksaw.

    • Excuse me while I don’t give a damn anymore.

      Especially when the left-wing politicians ignore racial/cultural demographics and individual responsibility and try to pass more onerous anti-2A laws because that think it will magically solve the violence plaguing their communities. But then push policies for redistribution of wealth or housing, or lowering of standards of education or civil service based on racial demographics.

      You can’t have it both ways.

  20. Suppressors in the US are actually pretty cheap and unregulated too.

    3/8 NPT thread adapter, plus a bulk pack of certain industrial fluid filters. If it turns into suppressor by accident, that’s your fault.

    Gun control fails again. If someone really wants to do it, it’s easy and cheap.

  21. Thank you for using the term “muffler.” Suppressor just sounds pretentious when we’re talking about something that really is just an everyday technology.

  22. interesting points ? i am a New Zealander or (Kiwi) , i grew up on the farm & hunted on the weekends with my cousin’s’ we are a layed back country’ and gun safety is a must ‘ Worldwide ‘ . i would not want children buying suppressors of any kind for fire arms ‘ i will pass this on to mp in N.Z. GOVT to be Resovled ?
    We are a hunting & gathering Nation & the World is Welcome to New Zealand ,bring your Familys & relax with us ‘ or do some Quality hunting in the South island of New Zealand ‘

    here are some links to gun control laws in New Zealand.

    http://www.police.govt.nz/advice/firearms/standard-new-zealand-firearms-licence

    http://www.loc.gov/law/help/firearms-control/newzealand.php

    http://www.new-zealand-nz.net/new_zealand_gun_laws.html

  23. The only reason that suppressors are regulated in the USA is because of Hollywood. They showed movie after movie of suppressor use making the firearm perfectly silent, or nearly so. And politicians got nervous thinking that some ski-mask and leather glove wearing assassin could get them and get away. So they made those stupid laws. Once again, our “entertainment” industry hosed us again.

    • Because Silenced pistol killings in Hollywood was the big thing when the NFA was passed in 1934? Ever wondered why the tax stamp has stayed at $200 for so long despite inflation?

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