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CEO Details Boom in Silencer Sales

A new interview sheds light on how former ATF personnel help the gun industry

The National Firearms Act (NFA) of 1934 requires that civilians interested in owning a firearm silencer must first submit an application to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) along with their fingerprints, a passport-style photo, and a $200 tax stamp before undergoing an enhanced background check. Only after being approved by the ATF can someone take possession of a silencer. (To learn more about these dangerous devices, click here.)

According to the ATF, the NFA application process was designed “to curtail, if not prohibit, transactions in NFA firearms,” including silencers.

But this has not stopped Silencer Central, founded in 2005 and one of the country’s largest silencer retailers today, from simplifying the buying process. Not only will Silencer Central create what is known as an “NFA trust” for potential customers for free with the purchase of a silencer — a loophole that allows several people to share ownership of the silencer, and new trustees can be added without undergoing the same NFA background check — but the company will also prepare the customer’s application paperwork, mail them a fingerprinting kit, and once the sale is approved through the ATF’s online eForms system, ship the silencer to the customer’s door. In other words, a potential customer never has to set foot in a brick-and-mortar store to purchase or obtain a deadly silencer.

In a new video interview published by Firearms News, Silencer Central’s CEO, Brandon Maddox, a former pharmacist, detailed how a former ATF employee helped him streamline the silencer-buying process.

According to Maddox, “I hired a consultant…He had originally come from the ATF. He had been pretty high up, came from NSSF, National Shooting Sports, came to my actual house [in South Dakota] where I was, spent two days with me, and we went through everything. But the benefit of working with him is, he had left ATF so recently that he could call the actual people that used to report to him and say, ‘Hey’…so it was perfect.”1David Fortier, “Interview With Silencer Central CEO Brandon Maddox,” Firearms News, June 11, 2023, https://www.firearmsnews.com/editorial/silencer-central-interview-ceo/474895, at 3:10.

Maddox continued, “But really, what we’ve done is, working with the ATF, we’ve created a process where we have four variances, so we’re allowed to do things all digitally.2Ibid, at 3:58.

In the wide-ranging interview, Maddox also boasted about the speed of the ATF’s revamped eForms system for NFA applications, which went online in December 2021 after successful lobbying from the National Shooting Sports Foundation, as discussed in this report. While it previously took several months to receive the ATF’s approval to own an NFA item, Maddox claims that he’s seen eForm approvals “come back [in] as short as nine days,”3Ibid, at 6:40. and that the ATF is “expecting a 45-day turnaround as the new norm.”4Ibid, at 7:09.

Maddox also discussed his company’s “eZ-Pay” financing, another tool to help customers obtain silencers: “We let people pay while they wait. We don’t charge any interest or any fees…If a guy calls me and says, ‘Hey, I want to put $100 down,’ I say, ‘No problem.’ And they’re like, ‘You’re gonna pay my tax stamp and submit it and put your own money on the table and move it forward before I’ve even paid the tax stamp?’ Absolutely. Our goal is to be in the boat with you. We want it approved as quickly as you do.”5Ibid, at 9:13.

It appears that Silencer Central’s streamlined buying process has helped the company grow considerably. According to Maddox, Silencer Central sells “100,000 plus suppressors a year” and has sold $100 million worth of silencers that are waiting to get approved.6Ibid, at 7:33.

“I’m paying close to a million dollars in insurance a year to have all those silencers sitting there. The less inventory I have there, the better off I am financially. So my goal is to just get ’em out,” Maddox said.7Ibid, at 9:40. “We’re convinced that once you use [Silencer Central’s purchasing system], you’re gonna be addicted, you’re gonna be hooked, and you’re gonna call us back, you’re gonna tell your friends, and it’s gonna be a win-win for everyone.”8Ibid, at 10:29.

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