Gun laws in Utah are among the most lax in the US. Even so, while silencers are legal to own, you have to jump through quite a few hoops to buy one. This is because federal law under the National Firearms Act (NFA) restricts silencers or suppressors.
You go through the same process as buying machine guns, short-barreled rifles and grenades, which are all Type II firearms. It is no shock that a gun trust lawyer in Utah is so popular nowadays.
Reasons for restriction
It may seem strange that a gun accessory not deadly in itself is restricted. In Utah, you can buy a handgun to attach it to without a permit or license. You would think restricting the sale of gun would be more reasonable. To understand the reasoning behind it, you have to go back to history. The NFA law came out in 1934 because of the St. Valentine’s Day massacre in 1929. Its purpose was to make it harder for gangsters to own certain firearms legally. Of course, they can always get those illegally, but that is another story. It is unclear why silencers were included in the list, as it seems unlikely that gangsters used them at all.
Because it is restricted, it takes longer and costs more to get a silencer than a handgun. When buying any type of firearm, you need to present a photo ID to the dealer (which has to be a Class III one for silencers) and agree to a background check. For Title II firearms such as silencers, you need to
- have your fingerprints taken
- fill in the ATF Form 4, complete with
- CLEO (chief law enforcement official) approval
- pay $200 as a transfer tax (from the dealer to you)
- send the whole thing to the BATFE for approval
The whole process can take up to 10 months. Even stranger is that as a Type II firearm, you are the only one that can keep and use it. These are the reasons why getting an NFA gun trust has become so popular. You still pay the $200 transfer tax once, but everything else becomes unnecessary. In addition, any of your trustees can legally use the silencers, as well as anything else assigned to the gun trust. It is strange, but true enough.