A solvent trap is a gun accessory that can be used as a barrel cleaning accessory which provides an easy way to recycle solvent and save the gun owner some money. It attaches to the gun and can also be used as a silencer which in many cases is illegal.
Some companies that sell solvent traps appear to have been accused of selling them with a bit of a wink, wink to the sale. In other words, they are implied to have meant to sell these products as illegal attachments and not cleaners.
Diversified Machine is one such company and their offices were raided by the ATF in late 2020. As part of the raid they seized computers and have access to the list of people who bought their products. Those people have been receiving letters of warning from ATF agent Keith Krolczyk advising that they may be in violation of Federal law. A copy of the letter is below.
Apparently there are four other companies that are accused of the same violations and their customers will soon begin receiving similar letters. Or at least that is the belief of what is going to happen. It can certainly be nervy to get a letter from the Federal Government accusing you of a felony. So the question is what should you do and what do you need to know?
1. Don’t panic. There are literally thousands if not tens of thousands of people who are getting the same letter.
2. While it’s theoretically possible that you could get prosecuted for this, it’s not realistic as the government doesn’t have the resources to go after that many people nor do they have the desire to do so.
3. Be smart, part one. The only people I see getting in trouble for this are those that give a big middle finger to the ATF and ignore the letter or tell them to pound salt over it. The ATF is being very clear that you can’t possess these items and if you try to fight them on it, that’s your right, but it’s a big risk.
4. Be smart, part two. The ATF is asking people to call them within 30 days receipt of the letter to discuss abandoning the silencers. What is unknown right now is how they want to do that, what they will ask you about your use of this product, what else they might ask you about your life, etc. As the old saying goes, anything you say can and will be used against you. Beyond that, it’s a big crime to lie to a Federal officer. So the safest play is to get an attorney to make the call for you and arrange for you to discard of these items. Nothing a lawyer says on your behalf is going to be used against you.
5. The letter from the ATF is very poorly worded. It doesn’t say which products from Diversified Machine are thought to be illegal. Surely not everything they sold was illegal. So before you get rid of items that you spent your money on, it needs to be clarified what they are actually talking about.
6. While it can be illegal to possess a silencer, I don’t expect people who aren’t difficult to face charges and it’s possible that even the pains in the butt won’t either. If you buy a product that is advertised as one thing, the Government would have to prove you knew it was actually something else. Short of you using the device as a silencer in shooting the gun, I don’t know how they’d do that.
The bottom line is that while it’s something to worry about, it’s not something to panic about just yet. You should never speak to an officer without an attorney. If you are an Illinois resident and would like to hire a lawyer to protect you in making this call, please contact us at 312-346-5320. We will refer you to an experienced criminal lawyer who knows gun laws.