This article was STOLEN from Sean Cody's website Contact Sean to setup your Trust so that you can pass down your NFA devices to your family.

Silencers have never been illegal at the federal level. A few states banned silencer ownership and/or use. Silencers have been regulated since the 1934 NFA (National Firearms Act).  the act, when enacted, placed a $200 tax on the transfer of Machineguns, Short Barreled rifles, short barreled shotguns, Destructive Devices, AOWs and silencers.

Currently, these state allow private ownership of silencers:
AL, AR, AK, AZ, CO, CT, FL, GA, ID, IN, KY, LA, ME, MD, MS, MT, NE, NV, NH, NM, NC, OH, OK, OR, PA, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, WA, WI, and WY.

Of the fifteen states that do not allow civilian ownership, CA, IA, KS, MA, MO, and MI allow Class 3 dealers and Class two manufacturers to possess silencers.

Buying a silencer from a local dealer
Buying a silencer is not a difficult task. The purchaser will need to complete forms, mail the forms to the ATF with a check for $200 and wait for the forms to be approved. It is that simple!

The dealer will help the buyer fill out the form 4 and the certificate of compliance (Citizenship).

The certificate of compliance identifies the buyer either as a United States citizen or a legal resident alien.

The BATFE will take approximately two to three months to review and approve the forms.  The forms will then be sent back to the selling dealer. The dealer then calls the buyer to come pickup the silencer.

Transfers to individuals
Form 4 transfers to individuals require a significant investment of time.  the buyer must obtain fingerprint cards, have his fingerprints taken, have his passport photos taken, and obtain a Chief Law Enforcement Officer (i.e. chief of police or Sheriff) signature by meeting with teh CLEO and explaining why the buyer would want an NFA weapon.

Transfers to corporations
If a corporation is buying the NFA item, instead of sending passport photos and fingerprint cards with the Form 4, the buyer will send one copy of the corporation's articles of incorporation. On the Form 4 the buyer's name will be the legal company name. No CLEO signature is required for a Form 4 transfer to a corporation. Also, the approval process is usually much faster than an approval for an individual.

Are there any down sides of corporate ownership of NFA items? Maybe not so much "down sides" but there are a few unique things regarding corporate ownership of NFA items. A corporation typically has some annual maintenance. Corporations must be renewed. There is typically a fee for renewal. For example, in GA the annual renewal fee is about $30. What happens to the NFA items if you fail to renew the corporation on time? Depending on the type of corporation, there may be tax implications for the NFA items.

A good thing about trust ownership of NFA regulated items is that any trustee may possess the NFA regulated item.   Therefore, if a couple brothers formed the trust they could effectively share the NFA Regulated items. For an individually owned silencer, the owner must be present when the silencer is being used.

Transfers to Trusts
A Trust is an estate planning tool. It is a legal entity that can own NFA regulated items.  It is a simple task to setup a Texas Gun Trust.  Contact Attorney Sean Cody and he will prepare a Texas Gun Trust for you and your family. 

Transferring a silencer to a Trust is very similar to a corporate transfer. The Form 4 must be completed using the Trust's name as the buyer.

No fingerprint cards or passport photos are needed.  The CLEO signature is not required. A notarized copy of the Trust is sent with the Form 4 and the certificate of compliance. The approval time for a Trust transfer is usually two to three months.

The Form 4?
The Form 4 is the form used to transfer an NFA regulated item from a seller (either a dealer or an individual) to a buyer. The form contains information about the NFA item (i.e. a description of the item, serial number, manufacturer, etc.), information about the seller and information about the buyer. The back of the form contains questions that are similar to the questions found on a 4473 form used to transfer a firearm to a buyer.

The Form 4 is a taxable transfer form.  it is used for $5.00 (AOWs) and $200 transfers between buyers and sellers. Transfers between dealers are typically done on a Form 3.

Form 4 approvals generally take two to three months. This is NFA-Examiner dependent. Transfers to Trusts and corporations usually take less time than transfers to individuals.

Copies of the Form 4 - Make them!
The Form 4 is a tax document. The silencer owner is not compelled by any law to disclose information on the form. That said, it I strongly advised my clients and all NFA owners to keep a copy of the Form 4 with the item regulated by the NFA at all times. Use this copy to educate any law enforcement officer who questions the legality of the silencer. Remember, MANY people don't know silencers are legal. If showing a copy of my Form 4 to a police officer keeps my client from spending a night in the local jail, I'll gladly advise him to display the form upon request.

Keep the original copy of your Form 4 is a safe place.

CLEO signature
The CLEO signature is not required on the Form 4 for transfers to corporations and Trusts.

What is a CLEO?
The Chief Law Enforcement Officer (CLEO) who signs the Form 4 can be any of the following people:
Chief of Police
Head of State Police Agency
District Attorney
A judge with the power of arrest
Any other law enforcement officer approved for this procedure by the National Firearms Act branch of the BATF.

CLEO won't sign! Now what?
The most common obstacle to purchasing a silencer is the CLEO signature. Many if not most CLEOs in Texas refuse  to sign Form 4s for political and philosophical reasons.  Many CLEOs simply believe that ordinary citizens should not own machineguns and silencers. If your CLEO won't play ball, have no fear. You can always have the silencer transferred to a Texas Gun Trust.

CLEO will sign . . . . Why should I get a Texas Gun Trust?
Even if the CLEO will sign, the Trust is the better option:

  • Time:  Your time is worth money.  You may have to take time off work to get fingerprinted, photographed and explain to the CLEO why you want an item that is regulated by the NFA.  Even if you do not have to take time off work you will be using your free time or vacation time from work.  YOUR time is valuable and as your NFA collection grows you will spend more time value in jumping through these hoops than the cost of the trust.
  • Even if the CLEO signs today, there is no guarantee that he will sign tomorrow.  Times change . . . . Politicians retire or new ones who are not NFA friendly get elected.  Some CLEOs have signed for one NFA regulated item, but when asked to sign for a second item have told the applicant that they "don't need another".
  • Flexibility:  The Trust can allow more than one member of your family to possess the NFA regulated items
  • The trust is easily amended as your family's needs change. The individual form 4 is stuck in the exact condition that it was approved forever. 

 Inspired by Mark Kuczka's article on Polite Society's website.


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