In a calm, cool voice, I have been trying to explain to anyone who will listen that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) upcoming rule change concerning National Firearms Act (NFA) controlled items such as silencers, is not going to be as bad as everyone is expecting. Casually known as ’41F’, the new rules change the way BAFTE Form 4s are submitted and processed – among other details, all responsible persons are now required to submit fingerprints, photographs and undergo a background check. This includes entity applications like trusts and limited liability corporations (LLCs).
What I had not considered, however, is the overall impact on the silencer industry itself: NFA dealers, especially those that conduct the majority of their business through e-commerce, will also have to deal with the new 41F procedures.
Silencer Shop, based in Austin, Texas, is the largest distributor of suppressors in the country, processing up to 300 purchases every day. With that type of volume, Silencer Shop needed to come up with a game-changing process to allow their network of NFA dealers across the US to continue to sell, process and transfer suppressors. And I think they did it.
Sometime before July 13th, when ’41F’ finally takes effect, Silencer Shop will ship out 300 fingerprint-scanning kiosks to select Silencer Shop ‘Powered By’ dealers across the country. Then, after July 13th, when a customer purchases a suppressor from the Silencer Shop website, they select their local dealer of choice, submit payment for both the suppressor(s) and NFA transfer tax(es) and if necessary, uploads their trust or LLC documents. In return, Silencer Shop will email each customer a unique QR code that they can take to those select Powered By dealers to scan and then follow the instructions to use the kiosk to capture an FBI-approved set of fingerprints. (Certain restrictions apply and will be outlined prior to launch.)
The customer’s prints are then securely transmitted to Silencer Shop’s headquarters and stored offline. All of your information is then submitted along with the BATFE Form 4 to initiate the transfer application process. The result is that customers and if needed, their ‘responsible persons’ (we’ll get to that part) will only have to be fingerprinted once no matter how many silencers they buy over the course of months and years to come. And since individuals no longer require a Chief Law Enforcement Officer (CLEO) sign-off, both individuals and entities will also be able to utilize the kiosk system.
The photograph requirement will be addressed by a custom Silencer Shop App for iOS and Android that will take passport-sized images that will also be transmitted to Silencer Shop HQ. Per the BATFE rules, every two years the photographs will be need to be retaken. Customers will simply use the Silencer Shop App to grab another selfie.
Now, I know what you are saying: The whole issue with the new rules surrounding 41F made using a trust with multiple ‘responsible persons’ or trustees seem overly complicated – who wants to drag their wife, brother, father, daughter, uncle or second cousin twice removed down to the police department to get fingerprinted every time you buy a new silencer. And just the thought of this process alone has created the surge in silencer sales we are seeing now. Recently, Silencer Shop sold all 500 Rugged Obsidian suppressors they had received in a single shipment – in an hour and a half.
Thankfully, Silencer Shop’s new system has the “multiple-trustee” issue covered. As the grantor of your trust, you can login to Silencer Shop’s website designate your trustees – no matter what state they live in – and they in turn will also be sent a QR code. They can then take that QR code to any Powered By dealer with a fingerprint kiosk, scan their fingerprints where they are transmitted to Silencer Shop, linked to your trust and submitted with every Form 4 you submit. If the trustee selects a Powered By dealer with a kiosk that wasn’t on the initial purchase, there may be an additional charge. But remember, once the fingerprint and photograph information is in the system, that trustee can now make purchases on their own, without having to upload any additional documentation.
After the initial outset of 300 kiosks, Silencer Shop will continue to grow the service throughout the country. In the meantime, if you live hours away from a Powered By dealer with a kiosk, for a minimal fee, Silencer Shop will send you a fingerprint packet so that you can take your prints manually (see what I did there) where they will be sent back to be scanned and uploaded to their system. Boom.
As if this wasn’t enough, future features of the kiosk system will include transmitting BATFE documentation for any NFA purchase sold by a participating dealer. So if you buy a machine gun, a short barreled rifle (SBR), a short barreled shotgun (SBS) or a silencer that Silencer Shop does not carry, the Powered By Kiosk will be available to transmit your fingerprints, the App will take your photograph and the whole package will be handled from Silencer Shop’s base of operations in Austin.
The entire kiosk system was designed and developed by Silencer Shop itself, literally requiring millions of dollars of investment capital. However, with their huge network of dealers, custom-built technology and sheer volume of sales, I don’t see how anyone else can come close to processing silencer transfers under the 41F rules as efficiently as Silencer Shop.
Here’s to hoping that my Powered By dealer MAC Tactical is one of the initial recipients of the 300 kiosks.
Game Changer. Epic. Whatever you want to call it, Silencer Shop’s system is about as innovative as it comes.
Since plans can change slightly up until July 12th, please wait until all of the details of the Powered By Kiosk program are in place before contacting Silencer Shop for additional information.