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Just got my supressor, what should I do with my paperwork?

Discussion in 'NFA Firearms and Accessories' started by Soapy5, Jan 30, 2013.

  1. Aaron Baker

    Aaron Baker Well-Known Member

    Must according to whom? Cite a law, regulation or at least an ATF recommendation that says that.

    It isn't bad advice to carry a copy with your firearm, but there's nothing legally required. The ATF can ask to see it, as can local law enforcement if there are state laws in your state regarding NFA firearms. If you don't have it on you, it might create a temporary hassle, but once you produce the paperwork, problem solved.

    The law in question is 26 U.S.C. 5841(e). It generally requires proof to be shown, upon request, to ATF agents. Just because they request it doesn't mean you have to be able to pull it out of your pocket right there. They might temporarily seize your firearm until you produce the proof, but you're breaking no law.

    Personally, the only time I've ever met an ATF agent is when I was in an Assistant United States District Attorney's office, and it wasn't a surprise. I doubt you'll encounter them at the shooting range.

    Also, not all NFA firearms require ATF approval to cross state lines. You can cross state lines without approval with a silencer.

  2. Lonestar11

    Lonestar11 Member

    Irritating the authority having jurisdiction is not a good idea. Without the paperwork, the weapon or item is illegal. Having a copy of the paperwork on hand will make your life a lot simpler.
  3. Aaron Baker

    Aaron Baker Well-Known Member

    True, but the ATF is the authority having jurisdiction, and ATF agents don't just wander shooting ranges asking for paperwork. And they only suggest you keep the paperwork with you--it's not legally required. So I doubt it would irritate them much as long as you were nice about it.

    That is absolutely false. If an NFA firearm is registered, it is always legal, whether you have the paperwork with you or not. You may not be able to "prove" to someone on the spot that it's legal, but that doesn't make it illegal.

    Yes. That's true. Which is why keeping a copy with you when going to the range isn't a bad idea. But it isn't legally required, and I've never been stopped by anyone at the range, much less encountered the ATF.

  4. Lonestar11

    Lonestar11 Member


    Everything you said, is true. But without the paperwork, how does the authority having jurisdiction, Game Warden, local Sheriff, etc., know that. They can make you life very miserable until you can prove it is legal.

    The ATF is the ultimate AHJ, but having to involve them at a local because you do not have the paperwork with you or do not want to produce it unless it is to the ATF is simply not worth the hassel.

    I have asked the local Police, Sheriff's office, and Game Warden, and even my local gun range, they all came back with the same answer, YOU NEED THE PAPERWORK with the NFA item. They may be wrong, but I am not willing to challange them.
  5. boricua9mm

    boricua9mm Well-Known Member

    Make yourself some double-sided color copies. I keep one in the car along with my vehicle registration and proof of insurance. In case I happen to get pulled over with it, everything is at hand. I keep a copy in my range bag also.

    Some ranges request to see the "paperwork" and you will find that 9 times out of 10 they have no idea what they are looking at. You will be amazed at the misinformation that's out there amongst "gun people." Congratulations, you now get to explain that there is no such thing as a "Class 3 License" and that there is no license required at all, but rather a tax stamp. You'll also get to explain that you've actually NOT given up all your rights to privacy. Remember, this all started because you wanted to have some fun :D
  6. thorazine

    thorazine Well-Known Member

    You are allowed to do whatever you please with the original as you see fit.

    Mine are setup in an alter like configuration along with spot lights, disco balls, fog machines, flame units and other theatrics all choreographed precisely through my soundboard to the music of my choice.


    They are laminated!! (gasp) :what:
  7. Donut Destroyer

    Donut Destroyer Well-Known Member

    You are correct Aaron, the registration doesn't have to be with the NFA item if you don't mind having it taken from you and going through the process of proving registration. So I guess MUST was not the best choice of words, but it is certainly a good rule of thumb. You are also correct about not requiring prior approval to take a suppressor across state lines, but most other things do require it. As for not seeing any ATF agents at the range, well, don't hang your hat on that one. ATF does not own a single shooting range in the country, so they have to practice somewhere.
  8. Aaron Baker

    Aaron Baker Well-Known Member

    Frankly, guys, I think it is important not to put out misinformation by trying to pass one's opinion off as the law or rule.

    That's why I've said in every post that it's a good idea to have your paperwork with you. As has already been pointed out, some ranges will insist on seeing it. Or you might run into a local law enforcement official that will give you a hassle if you don't have it on hand. Or there's always a tiny chance that you'll meet an ATF field agent some day.

    But while I might think it's a good idea to keep a copy of the paperwork at hand, it isn't legally required, so I don't want to misinform people by saying it is. You won't go to prison for not having your paperwork on you. It might create hassles, and in the cases of some uninformed LEOs, it might be a big hassle, but it isn't illegal.

    Also, unless your state has laws on NFA firearms, which my home state of Kentucky does not, the game warden or sheriff isn't the authority having jurisdiction because he doesn't have any jurisdiction. Where I live, the only laws governing NFA firearms are federal laws. Local law enforcement don't enforce federal laws. That doesn't mean that they might not try, but the statute is clear that only federal agents have the authority to ask for your records. That's the point of citing the statute.

    Then again, I'm a lawyer, so I know what I'm doing when I have a confrontation with law enforcement and so what I choose to do isn't necessarily what other people should do.

    Which means keeping a copy with you is a good idea. It just isn't the law and it isn't illegal to have your NFA firearm without the paperwork nearby. Period.

  9. MasterSergeantA

    MasterSergeantA Well-Known Member

    Aaron makes some very excellent points. And the difference between what is legally required and what might merely be a 'good idea' should always be considered.

    ATF agents are typically taught to always think 'confiscation', so if you were asked for your paperwork and had to go home to get it, you would likely be missing your firearm for a while. I will not fathom a guess at how long that might be or what hoops you might have to negotiate to get it back.

    And with state and local constabulary, being clueless doesn't stop them from acting...at least initially. As the saying goes, you might beat the rap, but not thride.

    So I will continue to keep my paperwork with me and hope that I never had a need of it.
  10. Aaron Baker

    Aaron Baker Well-Known Member

    I think that expression about "beating the rap, but not the ride" sums up exactly my feelings on the issue. It's good to keep the paperwork handy to minimize problems. I recommend it.

    Personally, I don't always follow my own advice, but I'm confident in my chances to prevail in "roadside court" since I know the law and am an attorney. However, I may just be acting foolish, since hardly anyone ever wins in "roadside court." I suppose it's a matter of "do what I say, not what I do."

    But I do think we should tell people the truth about what is legally required because otherwise we're spreading misinformation out of a desire to scare people into acting the way we think is prudent. I'd rather give factual information and good advice, and let adults make their own informed decisions.

  11. MasterSergeantA

    MasterSergeantA Well-Known Member

    I wholeheartedly agree, Aaron. Having the facts is always a better starting point than relying on "he said" or flat out rumour. There is a lot of crap flying around the 'Net and it is always nice to have someone who actually knows the law.
  12. Donut Destroyer

    Donut Destroyer Well-Known Member

    I do agree with putting the truth out, but the thing you have to consider in attending "roadside court" is that, while you may be confident in your chances to prevail being a lawyer, the officer is the judge in that particular court. As a career law enforcement officer, I never lost a "roadside court" verdict. I never met anyone who could talk me out of a ticket, but I certainly met quite a few who could talk me into one. Don't dismiss a local officer's authority to question the registration of an NFA firearm either, even in states with no specific NFA laws of their own. There are many local officers who serve on federal task forces and they are commissioned as federal officers, which may give them the authority to ask for NFA registration. Of course they will have federal ID to prove their commission, but they are still local officers. Just sayin'.....
  13. Bovice

    Bovice Well-Known Member

    So you're admitting to being part of the problem and not the solution.

    This is THR, and LEO or not, your actions are not high road.
  14. Aaron Baker

    Aaron Baker Well-Known Member

    Donut Destroyer, your attitude makes me sad.

    NFA firearms are required to be stamped with the maker's name, city and state. I am confident that anyone who has the ACTUAL authority to ask for proof of registration under 26 U.S.C. 5841(e), which does not include all federal agents and certainly excludes local authorities who are not commissioned federal agents, will know that a person carrying an NFA firearm that is properly engraved or stamped is extremely unlikely to be illegally possessing it.

    In other words, if I have an SBR with my name, city and state stamped on it, or a suppressor made by a suppressor company with their info engraved on it, chances are I'm legally in possession. And "chances are" translates into a lack of probable cause for you to believe it's illegal. And since I've already proven that you don't know the law and that a copy of the paperwork accompanying the firearm at all times isn't a "MUST," you don't have the authority to seize my firearm or my person.

    If you were to seize my firearm or my person without probable cause, especially if you actually lacked the authority to enforce the federal law in question, then it sounds like I'd lose in "roadside court," which wouldn't surprise me in the least.

    But that's nothing compared to you and your department losing a civil lawsuit in federal court brought under Section 1983 for violation of my civil rights.

    Throwing your LEO weight around without the actual legal authority to back it up is definitely not High Road, especially when you're penalizing fellow gun owners for violating what you THINK the law is.

  15. Aaron Baker

    Aaron Baker Well-Known Member

    As a post script, Donut Destroyer...

    Your Gestapo-esque "show me your papers" attitude towards legal, law-abiding gun owners is extremely anti-Second Amendment and anti-American, and it's the unfortunate reason that I DO recommend carrying a copy of your tax stamp when you aren't legally required to. Because cops like you exist.
  16. MasterSergeantA

    MasterSergeantA Well-Known Member

    Hear, hear!
  17. PGT

    PGT Well-Known Member

    random Q which I'm sure has been answered 1000 times; who holds the can while the paperwork goes through? The manufacturer/vendor or your FFL?
  18. Captains1911

    Captains1911 Well-Known Member

    The manufacturer holds it until Form 3 is approved, the dealer holds the item until the Form 4 is approved.
  19. Captains1911

    Captains1911 Well-Known Member

    This is the reason why so many good cops get a bad name.
  20. PBR Streetgang

    PBR Streetgang Well-Known Member

    as a NFA stamp collector ,put your original away some place safe such as nonmovable fireproof safe or in a bank safe deposit box. Make yourself some copies and carry one either with you or with your NFA item.

    In 98% of original stamp loss cases, you will need to reapply and pay another $200

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