An Ohio man is facing prison time for the manufacture and sale of firearm silencers or suppressors. Has the ATF overstepped its bounds?
Brent See of Columbiana, Ohio, was arrested early last month for the firearms related violation of manufacturing and selling illegal firearm silencers. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) executed a search warrant on See’s residence and business—a machine shop—and found 196 suppressors.
See had been convicted of manufacturing and selling silencers in 2014, and as part of his plea deal he was prohibited from possessing and selling firearms and related material.
See sold the suppressors on eBay, referring to them as “muzzle brakes,” for $50 to $80 apiece.
See’s eBay page indicates that “The seller could have privately advertised that this part would work as a monocore baffle stack, complete with barrel threads and bore. Remember, manufacturing any silencer parts requires a federal firearms manufacturing license.” The muzzle brakes appear to do the same job as a single baffle suppressor—a silencer—and were enough to bring the ATF into the case.
According to the ATF, a silencer is any device used for muffling the report of a firearm.
Michael Tobin, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Northern Ohio, said in an email to Guns.com that See had been detained pending a future hearing. “See’s probation officer visited his home in June and saw what were later determined to be three silencers. This lead to a search warrant being executed on See’s residence and place of business, where agents found what they believe to be 196 silencers.”
In the 2014 case, See entered into a plea agreement that placed him in six months house arrest, five years of supervised release and a $300 assessment. See has no prior criminal record.
See is scheduled for a September 28 hearing to revoke his supervised release. The hearing will be before U.S. District Judge John R. Adams, who passed sentence on See in his original 2014 conviction.
This case also raises the issue of government overreach in firearm components regulation. Last year Ohio passed a law allowing firearm silencers for hunting. Prior to that legislation Ohioans could own suppressors but not use them for hunting.
In a state where silencers are legal to own and use, what role does the federal government have in policing the manufacture of firearm add-on components? Are, for example, gun stocks or optics under the same myopic restriction and regulation?
Is See’s arrest and potential conviction fair and reasonable?
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