Gun rights are a hotly debated topic in the United States, and gun silencers are heavily regulated. Some states -- including California -- have banned the use and possession of gun silencers. The silencer law allows for some exceptions, but members of the general public are not allowed to possess silencers.
History of Silencer Laws
In the early 1900s, silencers were widely used and available in the United States. Howeve,r in 1934, a federal law subjected silencers, machine guns and other guns to a $200 tax. Shortly thereafter, the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (BATF) classified silencers as a Title 2 weapon, which requires substantial regulation and taxes to own or manufacture.
California Silencer Laws
It is illegal to possess a silencer in the state of California. The state legislature defines a silencer as any device meant to silence, diminish or muffle a firearm. This device can be officially manufactured as a silencer or created by the gun owner. Possession of a silencer is a felony in California and can lead to imprisonment, a $10,000 fine or both.
Exceptions to California's Silencer Laws
Peace officers in California are allowed to own and carry silencers. A peace officer is defined as any military or naval officer, a sheriff, undersheriff, deputy sheriff, chief of police, chief executive officer of consolidated municipal public safety agencies that perform police activities, police officers, marshals, deputy marshals, port wardens, port police, inspectors and investigators in the district attorney's office. This list comes from Section 830.1 of the California Penal Code. These peace officer must be regular, salaried, full-time officers and can use silencers when on duty or during the course of duty.
Manufacturing and Transporting Silencers in California
Silencers can be manufactured and transported to peace officers in California. All silencer manufacturers must be registered under Chapter 53 of Title 26 of the United States Code. This code governs the marking, manufacture and distribution of silencers.