Silencer Laws in Different States

Knowing the silencer laws in different states can save you from breaking the law. Silencer enthusiasts can even find workarounds if there states don’t allow silencer ownership. Firearm silencers are legal in most states and under federal law. There is a growing movement to legalize silencers because they reduce noise and recoil. Containing the explosion at the muzzle reduces recoil energy, torquing and muzzle flip while suppressing sound. 39 states now allow citizens to own and use silencers, but there are a hodgepodge of silencer laws in different states. [1]

It’s legal to own silencers in all states except California, Hawaii, Illinois, Missouri, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont. Silencers were illegal in Iowa prior to 3/31/16. Individual gun owners can’t own a silencer in Hawaii and New York, but police officers can own and use them under certain circumstances. [2]

It’s also illegal to transport a silencer into a state where suppressors are illegal. One interesting aspect of the law allows Gun Trust members who live in silencer-approved states to buy silencers for the Trust. Members who live in states where silencers are illegal can use them as Co-Trustees in the states where silencers are legal. The silencers can be kept in the legal states for use by visiting Co-Trustees. [2]

Special Silencer Laws in Missouri

In Missouri, owning a silencer is legal, but the owner must hold a federal C&R, or curio and relic, license. This license allows its holders to collect antique firearms. [3] Laws are changeable, so it’s important for gun owners to check with the local office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the state attorney general to get the latest information for specific states.

Compliance with Federal and State Laws

Silencers are regulated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, or BATFE, under the guidelines of the National Firearm Act. State laws also supercede or expand the federal laws. The federal regulations for owning silencers include the following: [1]

  • Silencer buyers must be 21 years of age to buy a silencer from a dealer.
  • People can buy a silencer from another individual if they’re at least 18 years old and file a Form 4 transfer document.
  • 18-year-old citizens can also possess a silencer left to them as a beneficiary of a trust or as a member of a corporation.
  • Buyers must be U.S. citizens and legally eligible to buy a firearm.
  • Silencer buyers must pass a BATFE background check.
  • There is a one-time $200 transfer tax.
  • Buyers must live in states where silencer ownership is legal.

Silencer Laws Are Relatively Simple

Silencer laws are simple in most states where ownership of silencers is allowed. Your specific state might have further registration requirements. The best practice is to check with an attorney in your state. Silencers reduce noise, and according to OSHA, the safe threshold for noise is 140 dB or less. Silencers can work as hearing safety devices for hunters and gallery shooters.

In Texas, HB 1819 removes silencers from the regulations of the National Firearms Act. A simple NCIS check is all that’s needed under HB 1819 to buy a silencer in Texas. [4] Texas gun owners already own twice as many suppressors than the citizens of any other state.

For questions let us know.

[1] Silencer Facts: 39 States Now Allow Sound Suppressor Ownership

[2] What States are Silencers Legal in?

[3] States Where Owning a Silencer Is Legal

[4] Texas Passes Legislation on Suppressors and License to Carry