Over the last couple months the ATF has been cracking down on “solvent trap” manufacturers — people who sell kits ostensibly for solvent traps designed to make gun cleaning less messy. But these items can readily be manufactured into a functioning silencer.

The ATF is of the opinion that these sealed tubes and loose washers constitute constructive possession of NFA regulated items, and the people selling them are selling illegal silencers. Eventually the ATF will start shutting down Home Depot stores across the country for selling all sorts of illegal NFA items I suppose.

In theory, if these kits are to be converted for use as silencer, it should be done legally; by obtaining an approved Form 1, properly engraving the tube, and only then manufacturing the silencer. Over the last week a man in West Virginia has been sentenced for skipping all that rigamarole and going directly to the silencer manufacture part.

From the Herald Media:

A former U.S. Department of Homeland Security analyst was sentenced Monday to 18 months in federal prison for unlawfully making a firearm silencer at his Martinsburg residence. Hours after Wienke was found in possession of a loaded .22-caliber revolver on June 9, 2016, federal officials searched his East Martin Street home, where they found a pistol with an attachment that appeared to be a silencer, according to court records. Compton told the court that the government found no evidence that domestic terrorism was being planned by Weinke, noting the defendant had no criminal history to speak of, not even a speeding ticket.

The moral of the story is pretty clear here: if you manufacture an illegal silencer, the ATF will come after you. Especially if you are caught illegally carrying a firearm in Washington, D.C. first.

What makes this story noteworthy is a couple gems from the law enforcement officers and judges involved.

When the judge asked Compton for what purpose an ordinary person would need a firearm silencer, his attorney said it was for Wienke’s use at a firing range. “He’s building this stuff to go to the range and fire off,” said Compton, describing Wienke as a tinkerer and a builder.

That’s pretty much question #1 whenever an anti-gun person hears about silencers: what possible use could they have for any law-abiding individual? Obviously they’ve never experienced the fresh hell that is an indoor shooting range on a Saturday afternoon, especially on Bring Your Own Mosin Day. Noise reduction is a safety issue that’s handily solved by the application of a couple inches of enclosed baffles.

Here’s an interesting tidbit:

Assistant U.S. Attorney Anna Krasinski told the court Monday that a federal agent found that the homemade device to be “the most effective silencer that he had ever seen.”

What’s more likely here; a random guy in his garage is a secret genius who put together the best silencer ever designed in the history of the world, or that the federal agent in question has just never seen a silencer better than an improvised oil can or something made by Sionics? You make the call.

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32 Responses to Pro Tip: ATF Still Considers Unregistered Silencers Against the Law

  1. A former U.S. Department of Homeland Security analyst was sentenced Monday to 18 months in federal prison for unlawfully making a firearm silencer …

    For a moment there I thought the article was referring to none other than TTaG’s very own Nick Leghorn!

    (For those that do not know, Nick Leghorn used to do risk analysis or something like that for the Department of Homeland Security.)

  2. “The ATF is of the opinion that these sealed tubes and loose washers constitute constructive possession of NFA regulated items, and the people selling them are selling illegal silencers. Eventually the ATF will start shutting down Home Depot stores across the country for selling all sorts of illegal NFA items I suppose.”

    That slope you have is mighty slippery.

    These are silencers. They were marketed in the same way 80% lowers have been, except that it’s not illegal to make a gun out of a 80% lower. Constructing a silencer and then calling it something else (it’s… uh… a solvent trap! Nevermind that it would function much better without all the parts inside that just happen to make it a silencer!) ain’t gonna fly.

    • Not at all slippery when this same agency considers possession of Brillo pads as violation of the NFA if you also own a registered suppressor. God help us all when they realize some people put liquids/gels in their suppressors.

      • Considering that chore boy copper pad I was using to clean a burnt offering on the bottom of one of the wife’s prize pots last night (you burnt it, you clean it!) would be constructive possession. How much longer will be before ATF will rule owning a firearm with threads on the muzzle, and purchasing a hose clamp, while being in possession of a 2 liter Coke bottle to be a felony? Would you be okay until you opened your Coke and drank some?

        Reduction to the ridiculous? I think we are long past that point with the feds and most state governments.

    • i think Hannibal’s point is similar to what we all know about products like the SIG Brace: it’s the “wink wink this is TOTALLY not what everyone implies it can be used for” that motivates the ATF to take action.

      you can, of course, disagree with the ATF’s position on these things; i might not disagree with you. but we shouldn’t be surprised as to WHY they’re acting on it.

    • I’m with Hannibal on this one. Setting aside how stupid the NFA is, there’s a pretty big gap between raiding Home Depot for selling pipe and washers, and busting someone for selling a nudge-nudge-wink-wink “solvent trap” that nobody ever, in the history of guns, has ever actually used to trap solvent, and which just happens to be, totally coincidentally, a pretty effective silencer if only it just had a few more holes drilled in it. I mean, sure, it’s completely believable that someone would buy a $300 precision machined titanium tube for the sole purpose of catching that Hoppe’s No. 9 dripping out of their barrel, instead of using an old soup can or folded rag. No raised eyebrows there.

      Of course it shouldn’t be illegal to make or sell suppressors (or “solvent traps”, or any other mechanical object, for that matter). But until the law is changed, dicking around with any quasi-NFA item that relies on the goodwill of the ATF or one of their worthless “opinion letters” to keep you out of jail seems pretty foolish to me. Their opinions are capricious and ever-changing, and the ATF has no goodwill toward gun owners.

      • True, true, and it bears repeating: ” Their [the ATF] opinions are capricious and ever-changing, and the ATF has no goodwill toward gun owners.”

  3. Pro tip:
    Toe fungus can be cured by soaking toes in gasoline three times daily.

    This site makes me want to hurl.

  4. Assistant U.S. Attorney Anna Krasinski told the court Monday that a federal agent found that the homemade device to be “the most effective silencer that he had ever seen.”

    Well, now.

    Where do I file a FOIA request for the details of the ‘evidence’?

    Strictly for intellectual curiosity only, of course.

    *cough*

    (I note that that NAPA 4003 is the type of device I plan to modify if the HPA is ever signed into law…)

  5. How about if he put a random string of numbers and characters? Then it would be engraved. Would that have reduced his sentence? One out of three? He may have had the intent to go about it the right way just in the wrong order.

    Comey has stated intent is needed to prove someone broke the law. And if a reasonable person would understand. I think he never intended to break the law. He was planning on registering it, but it is too confusing for a reasonable person. So a reasonable person without special training and education in the way suppressors become legal they would think everything is hunky dory.

    He should have used the Clinton/Comey intent reasonable person defense.

    • He should have used the Clinton/Comey intent reasonable person defense.

      Exactly … although you missed some other notable elements that should be added to his defense. Thus, he should have used the:
      Clinton (Hillary)/Comey reasonable person intent, David Gregory just for illustration, Joe “Double Barrel” Biden blast into the air, Clinton (Bill)/Lynch tarmac grandchildren discussion, Susan Rice “It’s all good” (lie through your teeth), I used to work for government (A.K.A. the “Only Ones”) defense.

      Did I miss any?

  6. Why is the article’s writer and some you commenting, using the liberal BS word of “silencer”? The proper word is suppressor. Please STOP using and feeding into the liberal BS!!

  7. I don’t know a single person that uses a solvent trap to clean their guns or barrels. It seems like a stupid idea anyway. Didn’t we used to just pound a rubber plug into the muzzle end of the barrel and let it soak muzzle end down all night?
    If you are a “prohibited person” then I honestly feel sorry for you. There are appeal processes with the BATFE and I have helped people in Alaska get their gun rights restored so that they can at least use long guns for hunting.
    Silly or not, using an unregistered solvent trap or an oil filter as a suppressor is considered by law to be a felony. You will lose the case and have to deal with a felony record after serving prison time.
    Spend the money and either do a Form 1 to convert a solvent trap or filter into a weak, poorly constructed suppressor ot just do the right thing and go to The Silencer Shop or Allen Arms and buy a high quality unit. It will usually come with a lifetime warranty and yes you will have to pay a $200 tax on top of the price of the can but most of you probably eat that much in ice cream every year… and you sleep a lot better at night.. Trust me…
    And don’t hold your breath waiting for the HPA to pass, it will still be a while before the Act becomes effective and there will be an unprecedented run on suppressors resulting in you probably not being able to get what you want for a while to say nothing of the certain shortage of adapters, pistons and quick lock adapters… And doesn’t the HPA say your $200 tax will be refunded anyway??

    • While there are indeed procedures to restore gun rights to felons, any on the federal level are unavailable as there has been no funding allowed for that purpose for a decade or more, nor would the prohibited person be allowed t fund the appeal on his or her own. At the state level things can be, and often are, different.

  8. 18 months in prison all because he didn’t want to wait 9 months and pay $200. Chicago murdering gang bangers get less.

    F’ing retarded

  9. If they pass the HPA, all those ‘solvent trap’ companies stand to make a nice pile of cash selling DIY silencer kits…

  10. This has been my recent hell. While waiting on my Form 1 to be approved, I researched and made a list of the parts to buy to complete my silencer. Most were to come from SD Tactical. Then the ATF raised them and forced them to stop selling parts. So I looked at solventtrap.com. Made a list, WHAM! Raided and shut down by the ATF. Now my Form 1 is back and approved and I’m still trying to find parts.

  11. I mean, the ATF can’t be that dumb, I’d say they let stuff slide as long as people know how to keep it civil like the arm braces.
    But you know how people are, they can ruin it for everyone.
    Things like this doesn’t help:

  12. These are the same as “Bath Salts” and “Spice” that was sold at the shady bodegas and head shops. Everyone knows (knew in the case of those now controlled substances) what the real intent was. Nobody is going to register a “solvent trap” as a suppressor.

  13. Can’t Trump just shut down the ATF? They seem to constitute “constructive intent” at being a police state level agency.

  14. Joe Blow,
    You are wrong
    Two of my doctor buddies have bought solvent trap kits
    The company even engraved the tube for them
    Just like commenter George Young said to do, they are waiting on the form 1 to be approved before drilling the holes
    It makes for a much cheaper silencer even after paying the $200 tax
    And it is 100% legal

  15. I want to know how they got a warrant to search his home and what those “forged government papers” were.

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