The silencer market between pending legislation, the election, and new companies coming to the forefront is as volatile as the stock market. People are unsure whether to “BUY, BUY, BUY” or “WAIT, WAIT, WAIT.”
At the moment, silencers are legal for purchase in 42 of 50 states. The last 8 states that have not legalized the sale of silencers may be extremely slow to do so. The list is pretty much what you would expect:
- California, Hawaii, Illinois, New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Delaware, Rhode Island
There has been both positive and negative legislation swirling around recently. The most imminent is the “NFA Loophole” that Obama is closing effective July 13th. In what he views as safeguarding against criminals getting silencers, all trustees and the trustor (owner of the trust), will be given a background check starting July 13th. Currently, only the trustor gets a background check when a silencer is sold.
Some more positive legislation that could make Obama’s “NFA Loophole” null and void is the Hearing Protection Act. What the Hearing Protection Act looks to do is de-regulate the sale of silencers. Basically, remove the $200 Tax Stamp and treat silencers like traditional firearms. No more 6 month wait, no more trusts. You buy a silencer and take it home the same day.
The “NFA Loophole” is temporarily driving up the sale of silencers before its enactment. People are purchasing silencers before more hoops are put in place to jump through. Once in place, the “NFA Loophole” will likely soften silencer sales as people are deterred from getting all their trustees fingerprinted and gathering up that extra information. On the flip side, if at any point the Hearing Protection Act passes, you would see a tremendous spike in sales. The two biggest deterrents to not buy a silencer now is the $200 Tax Stamp and the wait time. Both of those elements would be eliminated.
As certain legislative dominoes begin to fall in the coming months silencer sales could become quite interesting (keep your popcorn handy).
It has been well documented that the silencer industry is growing by leaps and bounds. More and more companies are fabricating silencers and the quality as a whole is rising tremendously. Similar to how thousands of companies began making AR-15s in the last 5 years there has been an uptick of machine shops and arms makers producing silencers for the first time.
I, for one, think this is a great thing. Competition breeds excellence and the cream will always rise to the top. Some people wonder how the big dogs like Gemtech, Silencerco, Dead Air Armament, and others will survive with so much competition. Similar to how Daniel Defense, LWRC, and so many other AR companies found new competition in recent years, but are still at the top of their respective product category so will Gemtech, Silencerco, and Dead Air Armament. They are innovating like never before to stay alive. The cream always rises to the top. A lot of these machine shop outfits may not have staying power, but their presence is definitely felt.
All of this competition, aside from the improvement in quality, is driving down the cost to a certain degree. When a handful of companies all offer the same product: similar quality, similar manufacturing processes, and similarly made in the USA, they need to find something to differentiate themselves from others. That can end up being price. Who can offer the best product at the best price. A lot of this correlates to the market and how the consumer is responding to it. There are many components that can drive the average consumer to want a silencer (price, future availability, legislation, etc). Silencers and firearms are unique because they are part of a leisure industry. Silencers are not like bread, milk, and toilet paper where we all need them. Some people may argue they do need a silencer, but I also believe I need a muscle car, but I digress. Jon Stokes from our sister blog, All Outdoor, touches upon many of the elements related to the market in a very well written blog HERE.
Finally, we can talk about the elephant in the room. It is indeed an election year. Just 2 weeks ago an assault weapons ban was proposed again and once again it was struck down. So we all know that our 2nd Amendment Rights, which existentially extend to silencers, are always under attack. So the closer and closer we get to November the more and more on edge everyone is going to be knowing that Hillary Clinton would enjoy nothing more than enacting anti-gun legislation at every turn. But enough about politics. We all understand how powerful a mere televised debate or a full blown election can be for silencer and firearm sales.
One thing that floats under most people’s radars is the background check process we go through. What I am referring to is not how long, redundant, and tedious the system is, but more from a dealer standpoint. When you buy a firearm, your dealer has the option of calling in your background check (5-10 min), or if they are technologically savvy, they can complete it online (1-5 min). In either situation, it is pretty fast.
So you have to ask… Why is there not a similar system in place for silencer background checks? The ATF and NFA have been trying to roll-out an online check system for quite some time and keep failing to finish it. As a gun store owner and Class 3 dealer myself, I was informed that an e-check system would be in place for silencers by last December. That never happened…. Then, I was informed it is being pushed back to April 2016. That never happened… After falling short of that 2nd date I have not been told anything since.
If, and its a big IF, they could institute an online check system and get same day results, even with a $200 Tax Stamp and Obama’s NFA Loophole law going through July 13th, you would see a significant increase in sales because the wait time would be gone. Gun folks like instant satisfaction. A lot of us are extremely impulsive buyers. And if we can stroll through our local gun shop, spot a silencer we gotta have, and take it home the same day, you bet sales are going to go up.
So when you roll pending legislation, growing competition, and an imminent election all into one, we truly have a perfect storm for the silencer market. The only thing we are missing from this jambalaya of chaos is a cameo from Mark Walhberg and George Clooney. But do we really want the input of two Hollywood celebrities on silencers?… Probably not.