Why You Should Wait to Buy a Silencer, Even if You Have an NFA Trust
Jon Stokes 06.10.16
Yep, I know quite well that the NFApocalypse happens on July 13th, after which point those of us with NFA trusts will be subject to the same onerous requirements as individual NFA item buyers: fingerprints and a headshot with each form. Which means that if you’re like me and your wife is your co-trustee in your NFA trust, you’ll have to drag her down to the police station to fill out a fingerprint card every time, which means that she’ll know every time you want a new NFA toy.
Except, hold on a sec. It seems there’s a way around this fiasco. All is not lost. And if all is not lost, then the smart move is to wait out the panic and buy the dip.
The Fingerprint Kiosk Sounds Orwellian and Awesome
Earlier today, I dropped by The Silencer Shop in Austin and talked to one of the reps behind the counter. He told me that once the rules go into effect the company will have an electronic kiosk on-site, where you can get your fingerprints digitally recorded. They’ll keep the records on file an re-use them for all subsequent NFA applications. This means only one trip (with your co-trustees), and then you’re all set.
When combined with a smartphone app that helps you take a proper passport photo, you won’t actually have to go anywhere to buy successive NFA items. You can still score them online.
After talking to that guy, I went home and hit Google and found out that I shouldn’t know about this kiosk thing already, but I somehow missed the scoop when it went up on TFB. I also know that, as with all things BATF, one or more of these details may be subject to some SIG-brace-style “clarification” and “re-clarification,” and confusion about the rules abounds (see the latest drama here).
Nonetheless, this kiosk-plus-app setup sounds pretty painless. And if things turn out to work this way, then I think the mad rush that’s currently clearing out silencer inventories all over the country will turn out to be much ado about nothing.
Once I figured out that this rule change wouldn’t be as big a deal as I thought, I walked out of the store without the M4-2000 that I had gone in to get.
I had the money and a copy of my trust with me. The reason I bailed on the purchase is this: I’m expecting suppressors to get real cheap in a few months. Here’s why:
Bubble, then Bust
Every time there’s a run on durable goods, the market for those goods inevitably craters once the panic is over. This isn’t true for consumables like ammunition, but it’s certainly true for guns and suppressors. After the post-Sandy Hook buying panic died down, AR-15 prices had well and truly cratered by 2014 and stayed soft until just recently, when the prospect of another Clinton presidency began sending more folks back to the gun store.
The reason this happens, as I’ve explained in previous posts, is that demand is pulled forward from the future. In other words, folks are buying their next few years’ worth of NFA goodies right now, and then they’ll leave the market for a few years because they’re stocked up and tapped out. Meanwhile, silencer companies keep producing their wares, and when a healthy supply meets sagging demand, prices drop accordingly.
I believe that soon after this deadline passes, there will be a drop in silencer prices just as there was in AR-15 prices about a year and a half after Sandy Hook. So I’m planning to keep my powder dry and time my NFA purchases accordingly.
The one major risk factor here is the presidential election. Gun folks aren’t too convinced of Trump’s 2A bona fides, and Clinton may well blow past Obama as Gun Salesperson of the Century. If suppressors get caught up in an election-cycle-driven buying panic, then all bets are off and the market could remain tight for some time.
I should also say that I do worry that Clinton will direct the AFT to antagonize gun owners with crazy readings of the NFA rules, and I don’t hold out much hope for legislative relief of that.
So I guess the take-home here is that if the current run on silencers that’s driven by the NFA rule change does not get extended by the prospect of a Clinton presidency, then I’d expect to start seeing heavy discounting of those items within the next month or two. That’s my baseline scenario, and it’s what I’m betting on.
If, on the other hand, the gun market goes Clinton Crazy and the NFA goodies get swept up in all that, then suppressors could remain scarce until early 2017.