Analysis of the Proposed Federal Regulation 27 CFR 478 & 479
Firearm Silencer Serial Numbers
This week I have decided to talk about the proposed Federal Regulation for 27 CFR Parts 478 and 479 were:
“The Department of Justice is considering amending the regulations of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) to require licensed manufacturers, licensed importers, and non-licensed makers to place identification markings on the outer tube of firearm silencers and firearm mufflers. The Department wishes to gather information and comments from the public and industry concerning whether or not the regulations should be amended.” (Identification Markings Placed on Firearm Silencers and Firearm Mufflers. (2016, May 4))
There are a few specific nuances that are important to explain before getting started; there are no regulations currently on the location of identifying marks on a silencer or muffler for a firearm. The ATF while not making an office CFR or utilizing an applicable USC has provided ‘direction’ in their Frequently Asked Questions section of their website under the Silencers section at https://www.atf.gov/questions-and-answers. The ATF has published the following (since 2008):
“The silencer must be marked in accordance with 27 CFR 478.92 and 479.102. The regulations require that the markings be conspicuous and legible, meaning that the markings may be placed on any external part, such as the outer tube or end cap. ATF strongly recommends that manufacturers place all required markings on the outer tube of the silencer, as this is the accepted industry standard. Moreover, this practice eliminates the need to remark in the event an end cap bearing the markings is damaged and requires replacement.” (Identification Markings Placed on Firearm Silencers and Firearm Mufflers. (2016, May 4)).
It is my opinion that this on the surface seems to be a simple and equitable solution, but to what problem? There is no indication in the proposed rule document that specifies what the exact problem is. They (the Department of Justice; Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Agency) have eluded to the fact that firearms must be marked clearly in certain areas and have redundant serial numbers placed on the firearm in specific areas (Identification Markings Placed on Firearm Silencers and Firearm Mufflers. (2016, May 4)). This does not explain what is the Federal Government's overwhelming interest that would cause them to create another regulation that would cost private industry money, additionally it would create an excess burden on anyone who has a silencer currently and has to have their end cap replaced. The burden from having this pass and the end user who currently has a silencer trying to replace an end cap would result in the end user having a difficult time having someone re-stamp a serial number on the end cap when the new regulation would require it to be on the outer barrel, even if that person is grandfathered in. There is no clear indication to what extent this has been a problem or will be a problem therefor showing no immediate need for government intervention.
Now that I have stated my opinion on unnecessary government intervention into the matter; this is not a bad idea. The centralized and clearly defined process eliminates the ambiguity or confusion that may arise when buying a firearm silencer or muffler. The end result in this matter is the correct one; however, I feel the government should make a more compelling argument to manufactures as well as consumers as it the purpose and need, not the want. Silencers and mufflers are already extremely difficult to purchase and possess, when you add an additional step or an amendment to current regulations it will always put a more substantial burden on the producer and the end user.
This is a good idea, executed poorly, but when providing feedback to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms I would agree with the decision to modify the existing regulations. It is unfortunate that we as a society though would be generally unaware of a website such as this; it allows the citizen the opportunity to make their opinions here. While voting is supposed to be a reflection of the population by picking representatives that will express the opinions of the people they are there to represent. This website allows the laymen to see suggested changes and voice their opinions on matter that are important to them. It is not possible for the United States to have a losing situation if everyone would voice their opinions in a constructive way in the appropriate forum and without crossing boundaries. This of course ties back into last week and the First Amendment issues.
Identification Markings Placed on Firearm Silencers and Firearm Mufflers. (2016, May 4). Retrieved May 15, 2016, from https://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=ATF_FRDOC_0001-0031