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The usual news sources are reporting that Christopher Dorner had access to 10 silencers and “sniper rifles” among the weapons that have been recovered from the charred wreckage of the cabin in which he died earlier this week. The weapons weren’t displayed during the sheriff’s news conference, they simply had an array of weapons that were “similar” to those they say he had. Nevertheless, the media is bound to fixate on the silencers as proof that Dorner was evil, since, ipso facto, anyone with common sense knows silencers are only used by assassins and secret agents. And thus have no lawful purpose (/sarc). However, here’s one detail they won’t tell you: possession of a silencer in California is already illegal . . .

From the 2008 “Dangerous Weapons Control Law“:


12500. The term “silencer” as used in this chapter means any device or attachment of any kind designed, used, or intended for use in silencing, diminishing, or muffling the report of a firearm. The term “silencer” also includes any combination of parts, designed or redesigned, and intended for use in assembling a silencer or fabricating a silencer and any part intended only for use in such assembly or fabrication.
12501. Section 12520 shall not apply to, or affect, any of the following:
(a) The sale to, purchase by, or possession of silencers by agencies listed in Section 830.1, or the military or naval forces of this state or of the United States for use in the discharge of their official duties.
(b) The possession of silencers by regular, salaried, full-time peace officers who are employed by an agency listed in Section 830.1, or by the military or naval forces of this state or of the United States when on duty and when the use of silencers is authorized by the agency and is within the course and scope of their duties.
(c) The manufacture, possession, transportation, or sale or other transfer of silencers to an entity described in subdivision (a) by dealers or manufacturers registered under Chapter 53 (commencing with Section 5801) of Title 26 of the United States Code, and the regulations issued pursuant thereto.

12520. Any person, firm, or corporation who within this state possesses a silencer is guilty of a felony and upon conviction thereof shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison or by a fine not to exceed ten thousand dollars ($10,000) or by both.

In other words, it’s perfectly legal for the police to have silencers, but average citizens are not permitted to protect their hearing.

When Dorner was a police officer, it was hunky dory for him to own such items. Well, when I say “own” I mean use in the course of his daily duties. He wasn’t supposed to take them home, according to California law. But the second he was fired, he lost his state-granted superpowers. He was once again a mere mortal, with all the attendant restrictions and limitations. And that made his ownership of those suppressors illegal.

Silencers are regulated under the National Firearms Act of 1935 and are subject to a $200 tax and ATF approval before they can be handed off to civilians. Their ownership is recorded in the ATF’s registry, and ATF officials can ask to inspect them any time they damned well feel like it. Click here for the full “Ask Foghorn” silencer treatment, but, in short, there are tons of hoops to jump through before you can get your grubby little civilian hands on a can and it’s not an easy process. And I sincerely doubt Dorner complied with any of those laws.

The best information we have is that Dorner bought the silencers using a trust —  a legal entity that acts as owner of the items. But since corporations don’t have fingerprints or criminal histories, the background check usually accompanied by an NFA application was skipped. In addition, the trust would have to be registered in a state other than California and Dorner would have had to import the items into the state illegally.

And who wants to take bets on how long it will take California Democrats to start brewing up a “sniper rifle” ban bill? Yeah, leaving hunters alone my ass . . .

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  1. The FUD-type hunters have it coming, frankly. As I’ve said before, if you let all the AR folks get kicked out of the game, there’ll be a lot fewer members of the NRA, SAF et al whey they come for your Rem 700 sniper rifles.

    • The .308 rifle is a very dangerous and high powered weapon? All I see is a painted hunting rifle. I thought hunting rifles were mundane and very safe?

      Are these guys that big of jackasses? Oh yeah, its Kalifoania.

  2. Everything Dorner did was illegal. All the laws in the world won’t stop evil men from doing evil things. The law abiding need to be armed in case they encounter a Dorner during thier daily life.

    • As Dorner roamed Big Bear, it occurred to me that there was a moment when one really did NEED an AR and a stack of 30-rnd mags. If I had been one of those skiers in my condo, I would not have felt armed with anything less.

  3. Yeah, and Chicago was displaying a sample of the weapons they’d seized, too. Except that was also just a “similar sample.”

    I’m not saying he didn’t have guns. I’m saying that laying a bunch of “similar” weapons out is showmanship. If the weapons burned in the fire, give us a list. If you think it will be transcribed in error, hand out a printed list. A table full of guns that aren’t the real thing is just a table full of guns.

  4. Elmer Fudds beware – this is where the government turns your 30-06 into a question of “need.” Will you turn your back like you did on the AR, or are have you learned that gun grabber are gun grabbers are gun grabbers.

    Wait, who am I talking to? Elmer Fudds don’t read TTAG.

        • What’s all the hubub bud??? Elmer Fudd is safe he uses a double barrel rifled shotgun that shoots forever without being reloaded, thats safe…. thats what uncle Joe said was great to defend myself, and uncle Barry has a picture shooting an double barrel!

          Now just let me know is is wabbit season or duck season?

  5. Self-inflicted wound my ass! I have trouble believing that a guy who had already gunned down several LEOs, and who by all indication was looking to make stand-off and make it hurt, took his own life – not until an autopsy is conducted by one or more completely independent medical examiners.

    • I have no trouble believing it.

      One last breakout attempt was met with a barrage of rifle fire. The cabin was burning. Dorner had three choices:
      * charge out the door and get shot center of mass, possibly dying slowly and painfully in the snow
      * burn to death as cabin went up in flames
      * quick painless suicide

      Suicide seems to be the most likely explanation by a VERY wide margin.

    • The man was cornered and even said he would not be taken alive.
      How hard is it to understand he killed himself.

  6. If he purchased it while he was an officer it is legal and he would have done the NFA tax stamp. Really he had a 308 hunting rifle big deal? I know MSM wants to play it up, but you would figure they would get their facts straight, oh wait…

  7. Note to LAPD and MSM,:

    Sirs and Madams,

    You are no longer considered sources of factual information. That is all.

    This has been a PSA on behalf of The General Public

  8. “… in short, there are tons of hoops to jump through before you can get your grubby little civilian hands on a can and it’s not an easy process.”

    I have no idea who you buy your silencers though but there sure isn’t “tons of hoops to jump through” and it is an easy process where I have bought mine and I have purchased three from two different dealers.

    One simply fills out the boilerplate trust one time and reuses the same trust for further purchases. Then one fills out the paperwork for the silencer which is really little different than that for buying a gun; actually easier in both places I purchased since they had already checked all the correct boxes.

    I can think of all sorts of things that require more hoops and are a lot more difficult like buying a car or refinancing a house. The most difficult part of buying a silencer is the wait for the stamp. Of course my house refinance is approaching that wait time now.

    If someone wants a silencer just buy and don’t be put off by all the supposed red tape people are always talking about. It doesn’t exist. The paperwork is nothing and any dealer that sells the things can walk you through it. Don’t be discouraged by these rumors. Silencers are not only fun, they save your hearing and reduce recoil. They are worth checking a few boxes and signing your name. And no, you are not photographed or fingerprinted if you use a trust.

  9. That’s all the libs needed. Here they come for your assault scopes with high capacity magnification. No one needs 10x magnification to kill a deer! Laugh but this will soon be reality.

  10. he proves our case for us. No one needs a AR-15 to do a mass shooting and it shows gun bans and silencer bans dont work this man had them and killed cops with them. Gun control is a idiotic idea only idiots promote.

  11. You forgot double naught spies, Jethro would be heartbroken. Poor Granny, they want that shotgun too. I’m sure there is an end to grabber stupidity, it hasn’t made it across this readers flat screen though, Randy

  12. My BS meter pegged on this one.


    “they simply had an array of weapons that were “similar” to those they say he had”

    The fact the cabin wasn’t his so wouldn”t be a place he would have the remainder of any arsenal he possessed is another clue.

    • You may not love the ATF, FBI, whoever wrote the hundreds of rules about them, or the ignorant hollywood types that think they actually “silence” gunshots, but if Hiram Maxim contented himself naming them silencers, it’s good enough for me.

  13. Didn’t his manifesto brag about how easy it was for him to use a trust to get his NFA goodies?(edit: yes) He used quicken wills to make a trust and payed $10 for a notary to get his SBRs and silencers. I thought him having silencers was old news.

  14. Looks to me like a good reason to limit what LEOs can have to only what civilians can have. Seeing how one day they will be civilians too. Maybe Olympic Arms, La Rue, Etc. are on to something more here then just standing up for the 2A.

  15. Until the last opinion issued by Jerry Brown as Attorney General, it was generally believed that officres who purchased weapons when they were workng could keep them when they retired, which included M4s and other fully automatic rifles. LEOs are generally exempted from the limitiations imposed on mere civilians. It is a commonly offered crumb to garner police support of gun rights limitations. Brown determined that when a leo resigns or retires, he isn’t a LEO any longer and hmust turn in such items. I am sure there are thousands of noncompliant firearms in the state.

  16. AP was reporting earlier that Dorner had weapons equipped with flash suppressors that kept anyone from telling where he was firing from. Think of it. A flash suppressor.

  17. First off, I thought police officers were exempt from certain provisions in California Gun Laws. Secondly, they clearly state that the weapons shown were representations of Dorner’s guns. To many people are ready to accept “their” truth of what is going on.

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