My friend and fellow blogger Nathan at ModernRifleman.net released an email earlier today that appeared to show SilencerCo warning distributors that Silencer Shop is spreading misinformation to dealers regarding their post 41F fingerprint procedures.
It has been brought to our attention that Silencer Shop is spreading the next wave of Post 41F misinformation to dealers. They are offering to put kiosks and fingerprint scanners at retail locations.
Bottome line is this: DEALERS CANNOT DO FINGERPRINTS AT THIS TIME!!!!! PERIOD!
That email was sent to a large firearms distributor from SilencerCo’s Vice President of Sales, Scott Clinger. Attached was a forwarded email from Silencer Shop explaining the kiosk system and the procedures customers would follow to buy silencers and file their BATFE paperwork.
As a disclaimer, ModernRifleman.net disclosed a current business relationship with Silencer Shop.
Where do I even begin?
I am almost positive that I don’t need to explain 41P/41F to anyone at this point, but if you have been stranded on a desert island and have just returned to the mainland ready to buy a silencer: The ATF rules are changing in mid July, requiring every applicant to submit fingerprints and photographs including entities like trusts.
First, hopefully you remember the exclusive story that TFB broke a few weeks back that outlined Silencer Shop’s plan to place fingerprint scanning kiosks in select NFA dealers throughout the country. If my tone in that story came off as excited, it’s because I was – I thought the idea was extremely forward-thinking and helpful to silencer buyers.
Second, if you stretch your memory back even further, SilencerCo and Silencer Shop parted ways about two years ago. At the time, plenty of rumors flew around to include Minimum Advertised Price (MAP) issues to the change in Silencer Shop’s status from dealer to distributor. In reality, the only people who know what actually ended the sale of SiCo suppressors at Silencer Shop are the two businesses themselves.
Flash forward to today.
I reached out to Scott Clinger for clarification and comments as well as Jeremy Mallette of Silencer Shop for his take on the situation. Both of them called me back quickly.
Clinger, prior to our phone call, sent me a link to the ATF page describing how to get fingerprints taken:
How do I get my fingerprints taken?
Fingerprints must be submitted on Fingerprint Identification Cards, FD–258 that have been issued by ATF. The fingerprint cards must contain the following ORI information: WVATF0900; ATF–NATL EXPL LIC, MARTINSBURG WV. These fingerprint cards may be obtained by contacting the Federal Explosives Licensing Center at 877-283-3352 or the ATF Distribution Center at 703-870-7526 or 703-870-7528. The fingerprint cards must be completed by your local law enforcement authority.
Last Reviewed February 10, 2016
According to Clinger, SilencerCo was responding to distributor questions on Silencer Shop’s plan to put fingerprint kiosks in dealers to process ATF paperwork after July 13th when the 41F procedures finally take effect.
Scott Clinger, VP of Sales, SilencerCo.
As far as we know, the system that Silencer Shop has planned does not meet the current ATF requirements for fingerprinting, which we understand to mean they must be performed by local law enforcement.” said Clinger. “We don’t want customers thinking that they have submitted their documents properly, only to find out months later that their fingerprints don’t meet the ATF and FBI standards.
I asked Clinger why SilencerCo cared whether or not Silencer Shop’s system will work or not, seeing how the two companies are no longer doing business with one another. He stated that since the system proposed by Silencer Shop can be used to process any NFA forms by dealers, not just Silencer Shop purchases, and that there was the potential for SilencerCo customers to be affected.
We want the dealers and distributors to understand that we don’t have final forms from the ATF. We have only seen draft status forms, so things potentially could change over the next 30 days or so. At this time, we prefer to err on the side of caution.
Clinger also stated:
We are behind any initiative that allows customers to buy suppressors easier. If Silencer Shop’s system has been approved by the ATF and FBI, it only benefits the consumer.
Now, according to Mallette, the Silencer Shop kiosk system has already been vetted by the ATF:
Silencer Shop’s kiosk and fingerprint system is 100 percent ATF compliant and meets FBI fingerprint standards. Page 150 of 41f spells out clearly that we are within our rights to operate this system. Our lawyers scrutinized the entire ATF document to make sure we are compliant.
Which is exactly how we first reported the information a few weeks ago.
The final 41F ruling can be found here. Responding to a 41P comment, on page 150 the ATF identifies who can take fingerprints:
Fingerprints may be taken by anyone who is properly equipped to take them (see instructions on ATF Form 1, Form 4, Form 5, and Form 5320.23). Therefore, applicants may utilize the service of any business or government agency that is properly equipped to take fingerprints. Depending on where the fingerprints are taken, the service may require an appointment, and appointment availability may be limited. Some businesses provide evening and weekend appointments and a number of private companies provide mobile fingerprinting services at a location chosen by the customer to be fingerprinted. Additionally, some mobile fingerprinting services offer special pricing to groups of individuals who need to be fingerprinted.
Mallette then continued:
Silencer Shop’s goal has always been and will continue to be to make buying silencers as easy as possible. The kiosk is designed to be compatible with every manufacturer and dealer and to be able to decrease the paperwork burden imposed by the ATF.
Mallette finished by stating:
Too often in this industry, we see companies attempt to leverage the ATF to hurt their competition. We’ve seen examples of this recently with the SIG brace, where letters to the ATF caused the ATF to revise their decision on how the brace could be used, and then later reverse it. In the silencer industry specifically, we’ve seen where these actions caused the ATF to review their decisions on marking a silencer tube that has been damaged, thus causing all silencers to require a $200 tax stamp and new form 4 if the serial number was damaged.
This not only creates rifts not in the industry, but it hurts the ability of the consumer to purchase and use silencers.
If the ATF were to decide that only law enforcement officials could take fingerprints due to the actions of companies within the firearms industry, this would create an de facto ban on silencers where law enforcement officials could choose who to fingerprint or not, thus hurting the entire NFA community and infringing on our Second Amendment rights.
Here’s my disclosure: The majority of the silencers I own are made by SilencerCo. The majority of the Silencers I own came from Silencer Shop in one shape or form. To me, this is like a kid watching his parents go through a nasty divorce.
I could rip out a few paragraphs about what I think is going on here, but what’s the point? I hate drama, so I’m not going to be a part of fanning any flames between these two companies, both of whom are at the top of their game.
What I do know is that NFA owners, especially silencer owners are a small bunch who need all the help we can get. We don’t have the time, energy or resources to fight amongst ourselves. Business is business – it’s not like we expect either SilencerCo or Silencer Shop to be non-profit.
But there has to be a way to end the drama, get back to work making great silencers and finding innovative ways to get them into the hands of consumers quicker and more efficiently.
As always, we’ll keep you posted on any developments.
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