SIG is Suing the ATF After the Agency Declared Their New Muzzle Brake is a “Silencer”
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Just days after it was made public that the ATF gave a favorable ruling that clarifies shouldering SIG’s SB-15 arm brace on an AR-15 pistol is not illegal, SIG got an unfavorable ruling on their new MPX line of carbines and pistols.
The pistol caliber carbines and pistols have an integral muzzle brake which allows a suppressor tube (sold separately, NFA laws apply) to be placed over it and an end cap threads it into place.
The design seemed pretty slick. Pretty slick until the ATF ruled that the muzzle brake itself was a suppressor and thus would be subject to the standard NFA fees and process.
I think I see why the ATF may have ruled the way they did based on the following video (starting at around 1:30).
Notice that it looks like the add-on silencer seems to only be a tube that uses the muzzle brake as part of its internal structure. I believe that is why the ATF made their ruling the way they did. However, SIG says the muzzle brake, as-is, does not in any way reduce the report of shots fired, meaning it should not be classified as a silencer.
I tend to agree with SIG. If the muzzle brake doesn’t reduce the report of the shot without the attachment of an NFA regulated device, how can it be considered a silencer. However, I am no lawyer and when I spoke with Kurt J. Martin, Attorney at Law, he gave some further clarification on the ruling,
I’d say that the silencer TUBE, being detachable from the gun and capable of being filled with another set of baffles or a monocore, IS the silencer here.
Normally any extra baffles or an internal core of a silencer IS, legally, considered a silencer too. Any extra parts for a silencer, above and beyond what the design for your one registered silencer uses and actually has inside it, are all illegal if not registered.
Thanks to all those “silencer internal parts sets” sold in the 1980s (legal as long as no tube was provided, but they could give you blueprints and templates for a tube), and all those “silencer tube kits” (legal as long as that company didn’t sell any internal parts), which many people bought and illegally built unregistered silencers with (The KKK killed liberal Jewish talk show host Alan Berg with such a device), Congress changed the law to make unregistered, untaxed silencer PARTS illegal. Tubes and internal parts.
Here the real issue is whether or not having a silencer core that is not removable from the Title 1 sporting (non NFA) firearm removes it from the definition of silencer parts. You can’t build a silencer using it (without a lot of work, and ATF doesn’t classify devices on what they would look like if you go hacksawing them. Otherwise everybody with a rifle or shotgun and a hacksaw in their home would be in constructive possession of a short-barreled long gun). BUT YOU CAN build a silencer with it if you want that silencer ON that SIG carbine!!
So with that in mind, ATF’s position makes sense. Sig is giving their customers half a silencer. The fact that it is only easy to make a complete silencer on that particular rifle is not going to save it from being subject to the NFA laws.
SIG believes their case is strong and will be taking it up with the courts. According to Sea Coast Online,
Gun maker Sig Sauer has filed a civil suit against the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives claiming the federal agency wrongfully classified a “muzzle brake” Sig designed to reduce recoil, as an item “intended only for use” when making a silencer.
SIG claims that gun silencers are “subject to burdensome legal requirements” and by calling its muzzle brake a part for a silencer, the federal agency is subjecting it to “economic injury.”
“If classified as a silencer, no market exists for the subject device given that it will not silence, muffle, or diminish the report of a firearm and yet it would still be subject to the burdensome requirements set forth above as if it really is a silencer,” Sig argues through Manchester attorney Mark Rouvalis and Virginia attorney Stephen Halbrook.
ATF Director B. Todd Jones is named as defendant in Sig’s lawsuit and has 21 days, after being served, to respond to the civil action, dated April 7.
SIG claims it designed the muzzle brake which “effectively reduces recoil and muzzle rise when a shot is discharged” and as such, it’s not subject to regulation under the federal Gun Control Act.
“Accordingly, it will be highly marketable to consumers and will generate profit,” according to the suit.
Personally, I wish sound suppressors would be made outright legal. They are safety devices and devices which reduce noise pollution from the usage of firearms. In other countries they are considered a standard, non regulated accessory item. The US needs to get on board with this philosophy.
Hopefully SIG and the ATF can get this worked out because the MPX line of firearms looks very promising.