As Texas & U.S. Law Shield have previously reported, advocates of hearing protection want to pursue new legislation to make suppressors easier to buy, and a key backer is Donald Trump, Jr.
“It’s about safety,” Trump Jr. explains in the video interview above recorded last September with the founder of SilencerCo Joshua Waldron. “It’s a health issue, frankly.”
“Anyone who has ever worried about hearing loss from shooting might want to lend their ears to this cause!” said Emily Taylor, an attorney at the Houston law firm of Walker & Byington.
Now the issue is advancing on several fronts.
On January 9, 2017, Congressman Jeff Duncan (R-SC), co-chair of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC), introduced H.R. 367 to remove suppressors from the National Firearms Act control and treat them the same as long guns, replacing the outdated federal transfer process with an instantaneous NICS background check.
The measure picked up 42 Republican co-sponsors, including fellow CSC member Congressman John Carter (R-TX), and one Democrat co-sponsor, CSC Co-Chair Gene Green (D-TX). The measure was immediately referred to the House Ways and Means Committee and the House Judiciary Committee.
The bill, whose official title is “To provide that silencers be treated the same as long guns,” takes a public-health angle to safeguard the hearing of the nation’s 55 million gun owners.
Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) introducted the similar Hearing Protection Act of 2017 (S. 59) in the Senate.
“This legislation will enable gun owners to have better access to hearing protection products and improve safety for the shooting sports by removing extensive wait times for burdensome paperwork processing that does not advance public safety,” said Lawrence Keane, NSSF senior vice president and general counsel. “NSSF is appreciative of Sen. Crapo’s leadership on this firearms safety issue and his willingness to stand alongside lawful American gun owners, hunters, and shooting sports enthusiasts.”
An earlier measure with the same goal is H.R. 3799, known more widely as the Hearing Protection Act of 2015.
About all the bills, Taylor explained, “Currently, the manufacture, purchase, and possession of firearm silencers are regulated by the ATF and must comply with the requirements laid out in the National Firearms Act. Similar to a short-barreled rifle or shotgun, anyone who wants a firearm suppressor must first get approval from the ATF and pay the required tax. An extended waiting period comes along with the time it takes the ATF to process these requests.”
“The Hearing Protection Act seeks to amend the law so that firearm silencers are treated the same way as long guns,” Taylor added. “The bill would make it so that there is no longer a tax associated with the transfer of a firearm silencer, and anyone who pays a tax on a silencer after October 22, 2015 could receive a refund of such tax.
“Additionally, anyone who possessed a firearm silencer would be treated as meeting any registration and licensing requirements of the NFA. Lastly, the bill would preempt certain state laws that tried to impose taxes or registration requirements on firearm silencers.”