We continue to receive questions about 'solvent traps' ostensibly sold as kits attached to a gun's muzzle to catch cleaning materials and debris. In January of this year ATF stepped up enforcement by shutting down solvent trap companies because, ATF alleged, they had intended the solvent traps to be silencers. Like wrist braces, Can Cannons, and silencer wipes, this is another case of ATF flip flopping. The public must stay informed about ATF policies. An item assumed to be legal to buy today, could later be recategorized as an NFA firearm requiring registration.
ATF issued a letter explaining its enforcement was based on 'constructive intent.' Here is an excerpt:
The stated intent of a solvent trap is to catch and trap gun cleaning solvent during bore cleaning operations commonly performed on firearms. Solvent traps do attach to the muzzle of a firearm but do not have any design features intended to allow a bullet to pass through them. Since as originally manufactured they are not intended to silence, muffle or diminish the report of a portable firearm they are not silencers as defined in 18 U.S.C. 921(a)(24) and thus also are not firearms as defined in 18 U.S.C. 921(a)(3) or 26 U.S.C. 5845(a)(7).
However, if the solvent trapped was redesigned or utilized to assemble a device for silencing, muffling or diminishing the report of a portable firearm or if intent was demonstrated to use the device for silencing, muffling or diminishing the report of a portable firearm, the solvent trap would be classified as a “firearm silencer” as defined in 18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(24) and as a “firearm” as defined in 18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(3)(C) and 26 U.S.C. § 5845(a)(7).
This issue demonstrates the burden on the public to keep alert of changes in ATF policy. To stay informed about firearms law and regulations, subscribe to Arsenal Attorneys email newsletter by completing the subscription form at the bottom of our home page. You can also follow us on Facebook.