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.