Recently, my Silencerco rep stopped by and we discussed the most troubling issues for consumers when buying a silencer. Some people do not like getting fingerprinted. Others fear the wait time or the tremendous paperwork. The most bothersome issue we see is the lack of clarity in regards to the CLEO (Chief Law Enforcement Officer).
Since July 13th silencer sales have slowed to a trickle as a result of the 41F ruling. If you are still unfamiliar with the 41F ruling; in short, it changed the way we buy silencers. It can be confusing, concerning, and the CLEO portion still has people scratching their heads.
Before the 41F ruling, if you bought a silencer as an individual, you needed to get a CLEO to sign off on your paperwork. This barrier alone deterred a lot of people from buying silencers because it can be intimidating.
Now when you buy a silencer, whether it is through a trust or as an individual, you need to send out CLEO copies of certain forms. There is no signature requirement from your CLEO (I promise, this is not a trick). The ATF even sent out a letter to CLEOs so they too could better understand the process.
The most important part of the notification letter is on page 2 boxed in red. The ATF basically tells all CLEOs that it is up to them whether they even keep paperwork on file. It openly says CLEOs can “dispose of notification documents once received.” So you can take heart in knowing that your CLEO does not decide whether you are approved.
So here is the short and sweet version to how your CLEO is involved in a silencer sale.
CLEO —> CAN DO
- Notify the ATF if you break the law or in some way should NOT have a silencer during your approval period (you are declared mentally defective, commit a domestic violent crime, or cannot possess a firearm because of new felony charges, etc.)
- Keep a copy on file of your NFA/silencer purchase
- May also shred their copy of your NFA/silencer purchase (they are NOT required to keep paperwork on file)
CLEO —> CANNOT DO
- Approve your silencer sale
- Visit your home unannounced without probable cause
- Slow down your paperwork because they dislike you or dislike silencers
- Get access to your silencer’s serial number (that information is redacted on their copy)
- Get access to a passport photo of you from your Responsible Person Questionnaire (that information is redacted on their copy)
Some of the items stated may seem silly, but these are all genuine concerns for some people. If you have any further questions, a great reference is Silencerco’s Suppress-Ed website. They outline all of the paperwork you will need as an individual or someone using a trust when you buy a silencer.