Newsletter: A Christmas Gift for Silencer Fans From the ATF

Merry Christmas!

I hope you and your loved ones are staying safe during this holiday season.

We did our best to keep on top of the news this holiday week since it was surprisingly busy. First and foremost, the ATF made a significant move yesterday that gun enthusiasts will actually like. The move will decrease the immense wait times associated with registering silencers and other NFA items.

Jake Fogleman looks at how the move will affect the market for the sound suppressors.

We also saw a new study on first-time gun owners during the pandemic, the New York AG’s new course on toy guns, a new NRA ad, a stay in a major California gun law case, and more.

Plus, a conversation with gun salesman turned gun-control advocate Ryan Busse on the podcast.

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A flag flies outside the headquarters of the ATF
A flag flies outside the headquarters of the ATF / Stephen Gutowski

ATF Moves to Speed up Silencer, Short-Barrel Rifle Registration Process
By Stephen Gutowski

It is now faster for Americans to buy sound suppressors, machine guns, and short-barreled firearms.

The ATF delivered an early Christmas present to those looking to buy items regulated under the National Firearms Act of 1934 (NFA) by offering a digital application process on Thursday. The move is part of the agency’s efforts to significantly reduce the months-long processing times for those products. The ATF said that digitizing the tax registration form and fingerprint requirement for transferring NFA items to new owners will substantially impact the overall process.

“This is an ongoing Bureau modernization and data migration project which includes the eForms system,” Erik Longnecker, a spokesperson for the agency, told The Reload. “However, one of the more notable updates is the return of the ATF eForm 4 to the system.”

Click here to read the full piece.

A handsome young reporter fires a shotgun equipped with a silencer
A handsome young reporter fires a shotgun equipped with a silencer / Stephen Gutowski

Analysis: Silencer Sales are About to Explode [Member Exclusive]
By Jake Fogleman

The future is bright for the firearm sound suppressor market. Pre-existing trends combined with recent upgrades to the registration system indicate a suppressor sales boom is imminent. That could lead to normalization of the devices and even further demand.

What are suppressors, and how are they regulated?

Suppressors, commonly called silencers, were first patented by Hiram Percy Maxim in 1909 as a device to reduce the sound of gunshots. He later adapted the same technology into automotive mufflers. Modern suppressors can significantly reduce the noise of gunfire to the point where it is less damaging to the shooter’s hearing.

The devices have been heavily regulated since the National Firearms Act passed in 1934. To purchase a suppressor, buyers must live in a state where they are legal, send in an application including fingerprints and passport photos to the ATF, pay a $200 transfer tax, notify their Chief Law Enforcement Officer, and wait for the ATF to process the application and conduct a background check.

It’s a system that is far more onerous than the nearly-instantaneous process of buying a standard handgun or long gun from a licensed dealer in most states.

If you’re already a Reload member, click here to read the rest of the analysis. If not, buy a membership today for access to this post and other exclusive content! Every membership helps support our independent, informed journalism!

Customers wait in line outside of Hudson's Outfitters & Firearms in Pottstown, Pennsylvania on March 18, 2020
Customers wait in line outside of Hudson’s Outfitters & Firearms in Pottstown, Pennsylvania on March 18, 2020 / Stephen Gutowski

Study: Data Confirms Jump in New Gun Owners During Pandemic
By Jake Fogleman

Approximately 7.5 million people became first-time gun owners in U.S. between January 2019 and April 2021.

That’s according to new research published Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine. The study used survey data on purchasing habits over a 28-month period to determine how levels of gun ownership changed both before and after the onset of the pandemic. It revealed a significant increase in new gun owners.

“In 2019, approximately 2.4 million U.S. adults became new gun owners (0.9% of U.S. adults); in 2020, 3.8 million did (1.5% of U.S. adults),” the study said. “Overall, an estimated 2.9% of U.S. adults (7.5 million people) became new gun owners over the 28 months before the survey, equal to 10% of all U.S. adults who personally owned firearms as of April 2021.”

Click here to read more.

A guns and several ammunition magazines pictured at a shooting range
A guns and several ammunition magazines pictured at a shooting range / Stephen Gutowski

Ninth Circuit Stays California Ammunition Magazine Confiscation Pending SCOTUS Challenge
By Stephen Gutowski

Californians can hold on to their ammo magazines at least a bit longer.

The Ninth Circuit approved a request to stay its decision upholding the state’s confiscation scheme targeting magazines holding more than ten rounds of ammunition. The court agreed to prevent enforcement of the law on Monday while plaintiffs organize an appeal to the Supreme Court. The stay is temporary but will extend indefinitely if the high court takes up the case.

“With this Stay of Mandate granted by the court, it essentially means everything carries on as it has for the past several years,” the California Rifle & Pistol Association (CRPA), one of the plaintiffs, said in a statement on Tuesday. “Those individuals who lawfully own or possess magazines holding more than 10 rounds are allowed to keep them while the case is appealed.”

Click here to continue reading.

Podcast: Debating Gun Salesman Turned Gun-Control Activist Ryan Busse
By Stephen Gutowski

Ryan Busse joins the show this week to talk about his transformation from Kimber sales executive to Giffords senior advisor.

Busse spent decades in the firearms industry but left last year and has now published a tell-all book slamming his former employer, Kimber, and many former colleagues. Kimber has since denounced him, and many I’ve spoken to in the gun-rights movement have questioned how important he was to the company and the industry as a whole. Still, his book has received a great deal of attention throughout the media.

After reading the entire book, I feel it has many flaws common to the tell-all genre. It decries the excesses of the gun industry while extolling Busse’s rise inside of it. Additionally, the book condemns how some in the gun-rights movement demonize those on the other side, but it often does the same thing in the other direction.

To his credit, Busse was willing to come on the show knowing he would face difficult questions. He responded to each of my critiques with his thoughts. And, he challenged me on several points as well.

I strongly believe in having conversations with those from all sides who are willing to have them. And Busse’s critiques aren’t all without merit.

I did my best to avoid a cable-news-style shouting match. Instead, I think we did a good job of not talking over one another. I much prefer having an exchange of ideas where each person can actually present their thoughts in their own words rather than being interrupted.

Of course, even an hour isn’t nearly enough time to discuss everything in Busse’s book. I know there were points where I wish I’d made one point or another. I’m sure Busse feels the same way too.

But, I think the conversation was worthwhile, and people ought to read the book so they can judge for themselves.

Plus, Jake Fogleman and I discuss how Democrats have begun to endorse the model set by the Texas abortion law. Except, they want to apply it to gun-control laws. We talk about how that could end up.

You can listen to the full episode on your favorite podcasting app or by clicking here.

You can also watch the show on our YouTube channel.

A mailer encouraging people to join the NRA
A mailer encouraging people to join the NRA / Stephen Gutowski

NRA Ad Attacks Biden Vaccine Mandate, Border Enforcement
By Stephen Gutowski

Vaccination mandates are wrong and the border is not secure enough, according to the National Rifle Association.

That’s the message in the gun-rights group’s latest ad, which features a border patrol agent and NRA member who has refused the covid-19 vaccination. The ad, released on Monday, is narrated by agent Rolando Cantu. In it, Cantu describes how he is upset at choosing between a “forced vaccination” or his job.

Covid has been the leading cause of death among border patrol agents since 2020, but Cantu said he can’t support a vaccine mandate and decried it as a “political stunt.” He claims the order could lead to thousands of border agents being fired. Several thousand border agents have yet to comply with the mandate. However, Customs and Border Patrol data obtained by The Washington Post suggests only a few hundred of the agency’s 62,000 employees have reported being unvaccinated and not seeking either a medical or religious exemption.

Beyond the mandate, the ad warns of the looming threat of illegal immigration as a reason for most Americans to be afraid.

Click here to read the full story.

Hands up!
A toy gun / Photo by Lavi Perchik on Unsplash

New York AG Targets Toy Guns
By Jake Fogleman

New York Attorney General Letitia James (D.) wants stricter regulations not just on the real gun industry but the toy one too.

In a letter sent on Monday to the U.S. Secretary of Commerce and the Consumer Product Safety Commission, James called for new federal rules concerning the likeness of toy firearms to real weapons. She asked for toy guns, BB guns, and airsoft guns that look too much like genuine firearms to be banned but did not provide specifics on where the new line should be drawn.

“I write today concerning the long-standing need for strong, coherent federal regulations mandating distinct visual differences between three categories of consumer products: 1) toy, lookalike, and imitation guns, 2) non-powder (bb, air and pellet) guns, and 3) firearms,” James said in her letter. “The ready availability of products that are visually indistinguishable from real, lethal powder firearms has, for decades, proven to have dangerous and—far too often—deadly consequences.”

Click here to continue reading.

A Sig Sauer P226 equipped with a silencer
A Sig Sauer P226 equipped with a silencer / Stephen Gutowski

Guam Passes Silencer Legalization Bill
By Jake Fogleman

Suppressors are one step closer to legalization in another U.S. jurisdiction.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Territory of Guam’s legislature passed a new bill that would allow its citizens to own suppressors. The bill passed on a bipartisan basis.

“Therefore, it is the intent of [the Legislature] to remove the restrictions on silencers and suppressors in Guam’s firearm laws, subject to the provisions of federal laws, rules, and regulations,” the bill reads. “The combination of silencers/suppressors and traditional hearing protection such as earplugs and earmuffs will reduce the risk of noise-induced hearing loss from firearms training and hunting.”

Click here to read more.

Pro-gun protesters
Pro-gun counter protesters demonstrate at the March For Our Lives protest in Washington, D.C. on March 24th, 2018 / Stephen Gutowski

Analysis: Are Young Americans Moving Away From Gun Control? [Member Exclusive]
By Jake Fogleman

Following a 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school in Parkland, Florida, support for stricter gun control reached a height not seen since the early 1990s. At the same time, many of the loudest voices leading the call for new laws came from younger Americans. Most notably, the group March for Our Lives, comprised of multiple Parkland shooting survivors, was founded that year.

This groundswell of youth-led activism caused many to prognosticate about a future of younger adults fundamentally changing the gun debate in their push for gun control. But just three years later, several indicators now call that into question.

A series of recent polls have shown Americans taking an about-face on the issue of gun control, with younger adults playing a significant role in that switch in attitudes.

If you’re already a Reload member, click here to read the full analysis. If not, buy a membership today for access to this post and other exclusive content! Every membership helps support our independent, informed journalism!

The Reload in Media

This week, I showed up on Riding Shotgun With Charlie. It was a great time. We cruised along the Potomac River. Went up and down the George Washington Parkway. All while discussing gun politics, problems with media coverage, my background, and what I’m trying to accomplish with The Reload.

Outside The Reload

New Jersey Assembly advances legislation to require new residents to register firearms | The Center Square | By T.A. DeFeo

Chicago Mayor Asks DOJ for More Resources to Fight Surging Crime, Gun Violence | National Review | By Brittany Bernstein

A Flawed Case Against Black Self-Defense | Reason | By Nicholas Johnson

New reforms target US military’s missing weapons problem | ABC News | By Kristin M. Hall and Justin Pritchard

Parents of school shooting suspect say gun was locked away | Bearing Arms | By Cam Edwards

Wayne LaPierre Testified He Fled to the Bahamas for ‘Security.’ Documents and Interviews Tell a Different Story. | The Trace | By Mike Spies

That’s it for this week in guns.

If you want to hear my analysis of these stories and more, make sure you grab a Reload membership to get the exclusive analysis newsletter every Sunday!

I’ll see you all next week.

Stephen Gutowski
The Reload

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