Silencers, which are classified as Title 2 weapons in the United States, require special permits, taxes and approval by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), according to the website of silencer manufacturer Gemtech. The sale, purchase or manufacture of a silencer is prohibited in eight states. California, Iowa, Massachusetts and Michigan allow only class 3 firearms dealers and class 2 firearms manufacturers, not individuals, to own silencers. No one may possess unmarked homemade silencers in the U.S.
Silencer Manufacture Law
According to the ATF, silencer and other Title 2 firearm manufacturers must submit an application for the making and registering of a new firearm, pay a $200 manufacture tax per firearm and receive ATF approval before the creation of such a weapon. Individuals desiring to make a silencer must meet these conditions and obtain permission to act as a Title 2 firearm manufacturer beforehand. Only government-approved and authorized individuals may legally perform silencer repairs in the U.S. Minor repairs involving the replacement of small serial-number-labeled parts must be made with replacement parts with the same corresponding serial number. All silencer parts bearing serial numbers must match. Major repairs include recalibration and main tube replacement, both of which create a new weapon.
Silencer Calibration Law
A silencer modified to fire a different caliber bullet for use with a different caliber gun becomes a different weapon, according to the ATF. Only approved silencer repair facilities may alter silencer calibration. These repairs require manufacturers to submit an application for making and registering a new firearm, pay a $200 new firearm tax and receive ATF approval for the creation of the desired weapon. The ATF believes a weapon modified from the original designed purpose creates a wholly new weapon that, for public safety reasons, must receive the proper documentation and filing as such. For example, altering a .22-caliber silencer for use with an unregistered .38 could potentially allow a person to commit a crime with a weapon easily reported stolen.
Silencer Main Tube Replacement Law
The ATF considers the main tube replacement of a damaged silencer the creation of a new weapon as well. However, different reasons apply to this decision. The ATF catalogues silencers according to serial numbers and strongly recommends manufacturers place these numbers plainly on the exterior of the main tube. The replacement of the main tube requires a newly numbered unit more often than not. The ATF considers this new unit a new weapon. Because all serial numbered components should match, all previous numbered parts must be altered to reflect the new number. The issuance of a new serial number requires the requisite application, fees and ATF-approval.