A day after a dramatic product release that included “firearms” toting shooters carrying
silencers moderators across the border into California, SilencerCo has announced that they are suspending sales to some states in the face of pending legal challenges. If you haven’t heard, the Maxim 50 is a muzzleloading rifle that includes a permanently attached silencer which theoretically should not fall under federal firearms laws. The company took to social media today to announce the news to customers:
Upon launching the Maxim 50, SilencerCo received several immediate legal challenges from authorities and lawyers in the states of New Jersey, Massachusetts, and California. Since we have no desire to place any consumer in a situation where they may get arrested and charged with a felony because their state defines a firearm differently than the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE), we have placed orders from those states on hold and are refunding customers pending legal confirmation. We will update our customers as soon as we have multiple source verification.
The legal challenges most likely revolve around the fact that, although federal law does not consider muzzleloaders to be regulated firearms (1), some states have more restrictive laws, requiring them to be sold, transferred and possessed as if they were modern guns. If that is the case, even if permanently affixed, a device that deminshes the report of a primitive a firearm may be considered a silencer by legal definition.
Not withstanding the definition of primitive arms or muzzleloaders, some states don’t differentiate the definition of silencer whether it’s intended use is on a modern firearm or not. A silencer is simply any device that reduces the report of a firearm.
Additional concerns also arise regarding the use of muzzleloaders during muzzleloader-specific seasons in some states. For instance, as many as 10 states only allow for the use of iron sights during muzzleloader season, and the Maxim 50 is not equipped with a front sight post. Also, other states restrict the use of shotgun primer equipped muzzleloaders during restricted hunting seasons.
At its core, the Maxim 50 either appears to be designed as a means to hunt during primitive seasons or a firearm with a moderator available to shooters who either cannot purchase silencers as regulated by the National Firearms Act (NFA) or do not want to undergo the NFA process. However, many of those shooters and hunters are now actually precluded from Maxim 50 ownership and/or use as a hunting rifle.
The restriction and/or regulation of inanimate objects does not make anyone safer. In that vein, silencers, whether they are designed to be used on muzzleloaders or modern firearms should be deregulated along with the rest of NFA guns. Let’s continue that fight until Americans can regain these lost freedoms.
But, I hate to see what may turn out to be wasted energy in an attempt in to bring quieter guns to more restrictive areas. As it stands now, additional research is/was needed before making attempts to circumnavigate laws that have already faced decades of debate and contention. The Maxim 50 has been purportedly in development for a number of years which should have given SilencerCo’s legal team enough time to examine any possible pitfalls.
And let’s face it, the current state of the silencer industry doesn’t leave much time, money or energy for any extended legal battles.