ATF has not made any official public statements as to how they will treat Michigan persons attempting to file transfer forms for NFA regulated items such as transferable machine guns and suppressors. As you are aware Michigan has gone from being a C&R only state to a transferable state at least in regards to state law. The ATF still can not believe this has happened and believe me I expect their working overtime trying to find a way to defeat us and in fact thumb their collective noses at us.
During the past couple of weeks I have been trying to get information updates from various sources such as Ken Houchens at the NFA and from Attorney General Mike Cox’s office. Houchens has said their legal counsel was in contact with our AG’s office in response to my asking him for a status update. This has led me to attempt to verify this statement and I have found this is not the case. Now either somebody is lying or Houchens is being misled. Having just made that statement I have called Houchens office numerous times in an attempt to speak with him. He is not answering the phone. Now either he’s out of the office all the time or he has both my phone numbers pegged on his caller ID, if he has that feature and he does not want to talk to me. I certainly can’t explain why this would be as I have always been extremely respectful and courteous when I have talked with him in the past.
To verify if there was any federal ATF coordination with the AG’s office I sent email directed to the AG’s executive assistant. I received a call telling me who to speak to at the AG’s office and a phone number for him. I spoke with the AG’s man in charge of answering questions about AG Opinion 7183 Bob Ianni. He told me there was no coordination or contact from the fed ATF other than an agent from the Upper Peninsula who was asking similar questions about what was legal as he was being asked the same kinds of questions from law enforcement people and the general public and he wanted to know how the changes would affect him and his job. So I expect this ATF guy was simply a field agent. Now if this is coordination with the AG’s office I’ll be a Monkeys Uncle!
I spoke with Bob for probably 40 minutes talking about the fact that ATF was having a hard time coming to reality or understanding the statute and opinions. I got the impression he was the writer of the opinion 7183. We talked about all kinds of things regarding the opinion such as the superseding issue. I made the point to him that the act of superseding the old opinion had the effect of lifting the state ban on mg’s and silencers. I expect he agreed. Bob proceeded to tell me that silencers had been legal to possess since 1979 and directed my attention to the AG’s footnote 4. This was a reference to a letter opinion from former AG Frank Kelly to then NFA Chief Phillip Price. If this was true I thought this is a SMOKING GUN. I got a copy of the letter in question.
From former AG Frank Kelly to former NFA Chief Price dated Apr 25, 1979 at Price's request (this is in foot note 4 of 7183 opinion) which basically says that due to a change in Michigan law as amended "under section 224 (2), that the general prohibition against manufacture, sale, offering for sale, or possession of a machine gun, muffler, silencer, bomb, etc., shall not apply to a person licensed by the BATF to manufacture, sell or possess such devices.” Price was attempting to confirm that the Michigan statute had indeed been changed and if it had then licensed persons would qualify to possess 224 1 (a) mg, (b) silencer, (c) bomb…. etc. indeed anything under the purview of the NFA items listed in the statute. Kelly concurred telling Price the law had changed and the prohibition does not apply when a person is duly licensed by the secretary to possess a mg and that a person who demonstrates proof of such licensure is not in violation of Michigan law. This is a WOW in my book!
This letter seems to refute all of the things ATF has been telling people such as “well pre-86 mgs might be ok but prolly not silencers”, “the opinion only applies to mg’s it does not say anything about silencers” , “nah ah ahhh that requires legislation” and the latest one “were red stamping all transfer forms from Michigan people cuz were questioning the legality of the AG’s opinion” and who knows what all bullshit their telling people calling in to their offices.
Fact of the matter is the new AG opinion outlines what the state considers to be a license, how you meet the state exception to the prohibitions by getting an approved form 4 from the Director of BATFE etc. etc. and this letter from Kelly to Price which is still valid would seem to validate that we qualify to possess all the NFA regulated items listed under 224 subsection 1 i.e. (a) mg, (b) silencer, (c) bomb….etc. this old document should suffice as the intent of what is legal under state law and that’s everything listed in the statute thats NFA regulated i.e. mg's, silencers, bombs if your duly licensed period.
It should be duly noted that SBR and SBS are strictly prohibited to everybody including dealers and manufacturers under MCL 750.224 B unless they are C&R.
Here’s what my Attorney wrote to Houchens and in fact to others in BATFE such as the Detroit office. The ATF guy from the UP told me any decision on how ATF handles the Michigan issue will come from the Detroit office. Did ATF transfer their legal authority from Washington D.C. to the Detroit office? – Big mistake if they did these people are for the most part biased and anti-gun to an extreme, and in fact anti-freedom. Believe me I have wrangled with them back in the day.
Here's what my Attorney told them;
Dear Mr. Houchens:
I am writing about silencers in Michigan. In light of Attorney General Mike Cox's December 27, 2005 opinion no. 7183 on transferable machine guns to "licensed persons" and that a Form 4 is such a license under state law, and Attorney General Frank Kelly's prior letter opinion dated April 29, 1979 finding that silencers were transferable to persons "duly licensed by the secretary" under Michigan law, there remains no doubt as to the meaning of Michigan law permitting transfer of pre-1986 transferable and registered suppressors to private persons on a Form 4 tax paid.
A copy of the later Opinion is attached hereto. I am asking that ATF legal counsel review same and the obvious conclusion that such transfers are authorized be publicly noted. I have also copied a contact at the Michigan State Police and make the same request. Further delay is not warranted.
I called and talked to the ATF agent from the Upper Peninsula and here is some of what he said. This guy was concerned about how the opinion affects him and how he does his job. He also said he had requests for information about the opinion from law enforcement and people wanting to know what’s legal and what’s not. That was his reasoning for contacting the AG.
While he did not confirm he was the main contact for helping ATF to come to a conclusion he did allude to the fact that any decision would come from the Detroit ATF office which blows my mind but. He also wanted to find out from the AG if the other things listed under subsection 1 were to be included as well.
Apparently he was not getting the AGs office to concur and give a solid yes or no answer. He said he sent a letter to State Rep. Leon Drolet asking for help in making these confirmations as well. I have not been able to verify this. Now I told the guy he could request a letter of clarification just as well as I could. He said he didn't think he had that authority. So it sounds like he wants us to do his work for him.
He said other NFA items like big guns or bombs and bombshells would be a concern and are these transferable to Michigan persons as well. He alluded to the fact that if a letter opinion or letter of clarification was sent in to ATF that that may help them make a public announcement. He gave me the email address for the Detroit office to send anything in that we would like. This guy’s whole focus seemed to be how his job changes as it relates to criminal enforcement and the like based on the new opinion. Kellys old 1979 letter was sent to the Detroit ATF as that letter of clarification!!!!!!!!!!!!
Other things we talked about were transfers. He mentioned that there may be a very large number of transfers coming in to NFA and that they may have to assign additional personnel to assist in the verifications. Now I don't know how accurate this can be but it almost sounded as if Michigan ATF people may be doing the assisting.
He said there really is a time frame in which the applications are supposed to be transferred in and that they cant be delayed forever. We talked about typical transfer times too and he admitted they could run from 60 to 90 days and up to 6 months in some rare cases. I told him about mine that it was in and ATF cashed my check on 1/17 and it was in the system. I also told him he was right and there would be a bunch of applications coming in that was a fact. I told him people have transfers of suppressors and transferable mg's already mailed. We talked about SBR SBS and I acknowledged they are illegal unless C&R we knew that.
Other chitchat included discussion of the finer points of some of the better cans on the market and the nice little handgun/suppressor packages that are available. We talked about what kind of cans that were not worth the money like the titanium ones. LOL. He also said there are guys in law enforcement and the general public that are interested in the silencers too. So he knows where we are coming from. He also said he may be interested in them himself. I expect he can already have what he wants.
Another point of information he made to demonstrate how it would affect his job is if somebody made a report of somebody shooting a mg was if they went to check it out he could not divulge any information to law enforcement or otherwise as the form 4 is a tax document and therefore he could not confirm any thing to the law. I told him if the police came to investigate the same and a guy showed his form 4 then that’s his proof of licensure under state law. He also agreed with that. He also even talked about the safety inspection i.e. green card registration. I did not go along with that too much.
So it sounds like this guy wants to verify the whole deal. As we talked more about the verification he was of the opinion that the law should mean what it says - we agreed! He thinks as one reads the statute from top to bottom 1 (a) thru (e) should all be lawful to possess although not all of those items come under the purview of the NFA. He thinks it should be logical, however he thinks they need confirmation.
He also taked about how law enforcement had concerns about silencers, in fact people at MSP. I told him MSP is notorious for not knowing what their talking about! He said the people he talked with at MSP knew what they were talking about - LOL. He gave an example that they have said silencers were not included in the opinion. I kept bringing him back to the superseding point that the prohibition has been lifted period.... period..... period by the act of superseding.
I went on about how persons with criminal intent would not go to the lengths required to obtain these kinds of things. He also brought up the fact the registered owners of mg's have not used them in any crimes except for one cop in ohio - I knew that!
Well I'm going to cut here and say it looks like we may request a letter of clarification as that will not take months. If we need to we may continue down the AG opinion path. For now the saga continues.
Some of you guys might want to start complaining to your Congress person because it looks like ATF is just going to give us a hard time and perhaps we need to start to return the favor!
without going into a long discussion, did Bob say silencers have been legal in MI since 1979?
That's what I gathered!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Not exactly. The Kelly letter to Price was back in 1979 when Michigan law got changed to allow possession of the prohibited items listed in 224 subsection 1 to people licensed by the secretary of the treasury....
Price then asked Kelly to confirm for a fact that the law had been changed and if it had the transfers would be approved to licensed persons.
So I would expect they concluded that "licensed dealers" would be the persons allowed to possess the prohibited items not the average person as Kellys opinion still stood prohibiting persons from possessing mg's or silencers. Dealers obviously could own silencers since 1979 - YES.
Now that 7183 has eliminated 5210 and it has been determined that a form 4 transfer will be recognized to meet the exception of being duly licensed and based on the still effective Kelly letter to Price it can be concluded that we as duly licensed persons may possess those items refered to in both the statute and talked about in the Kelly letter opinion i.e. mg, silencer, bomb.....
This is because the Kelly letter opinion coincides with the items listed under MCL 750.224 1 (a) thru (e)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
SMOKING GUN in my opinion. However ATF still has to be the BIG BOSS and try to boss us around. Fact of the matter they are on the wrong side of the law.
If you want a pdf of the Kelly letter to Price - email me at
But yes Bob did tell me silencers had been legal since 1979 and ATF records showed 800 licenses in Michigan. I expect they must be 800 FFL dealers.
How do you make this a hot link you can click on to view the Kelly to NFA Chief price Letter?
just add [ url ] before the link and [/ url ] after the link (without the spaces)