The suppressor de-regulation bill known as the Hearing Protection Act (HPA) got heard this week on Capitol Hill by the House Natural Resources Subcommittee as part of a larger, pro-gun omnibus package known as the SHARE Act. Good news, it cleared the committee!!!
At Tuesday’s hearing, though, opponents of the measure wasted no time slamming it, arguing that removing suppressors from the National Firearms Act jeopardizes public safety.
“Silencers mask the sound of a gun, changing the sound into one not easily recognized as gunfire. As a result, ambush-style murders become easier, and bystanders may not know to alert first responders,” said David Chipman, a policy adviser for the pro-gun control organization Americans for Responsible Solutions.
Chipman, a former agent at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, was invited by the Democrats to testify.
“Congress must do more to make our communities safer, not put silencers in the hands of criminals, making it harder for people, including law enforcement, to identify the sound of gunfire, locate active shooters, and keep our communities safe,” continued Chipman.
Proponents of the HPA shot down these complaints, pointing out that criminals already have access to suppressors and that the current restrictions only keep responsible citizens from using them.
“It’s easy to make a suppressor. If you want to make one now you can do it and a person who would not be dissuaded from committing a murder by capital punishment potentially is not going to worry about a National Firearms Act conviction for non-registration of a suppressor,” said Stephen Halbrook, a Second Amendment attorney and guest of the Republicans.
“The fact is we’ve heard a parade of horribles of issues that would apply to criminals and we have criminal misuse of weapons now,” he continued. “This bill would simply make it easier for law abiding people to protect their hearing.”
After all the mindless squabbling by the Democrats, the committee passed the SHARE Act on Wednesday. In addition to HPA, the SHARE Act also contains the following, per the NRA-ILA:
- Securing the future of hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting by increasing access to federal public lands.
- Reforming of the Firearm Owners’ Protection Act (FOPA), which protects the lawful, legal transport of unloaded firearms.
- Strengthening protections for carrying firearms on land managed by the Army Corps of Engineers.
- Removing the undefined and antiquated “sporting purposes test”, which opens the door to arbitrary ammunition bans.
- Returning wildlife management of the gray wolf back to states adversely affected by rising populations.
“Today marks an important step in protecting the Second Amendment freedoms of America’s hunters and sportsmen and strengthening our outdoor heritage,” said Chris W. Cox, executive director, NRA-ILA. “The SHARE Act will cut burdensome red tape that restricts millions of hunters and sportsmen.”
“I would like to thank Chairman Rob Bishop and Subcommittee Chairman Tom McClintock for their leadership and critical roles in ensuring committee passage of the SHARE Act. Thanks to their efforts, we are one step closer to the day that all Americans will have better access to our outdoor heritage and the tools that ensure the safety of hunters and sportsmen alike,” concluded Cox.
Everytown for Gun Safety, the gun control organization funded by Michael Bloomberg, was not pleased with the progress of the SHARE Act, specifically the HPA portion.
“Silencers distort the sound of a gun, and in the wrong hands, they put people’s safety at risk. NRA leadership and their friends in Congress have gone behind closed doors to try to prop up lagging gun sales by making it easy for anyone to buy a silencer without a background check,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown.
“This sham bill is a giveaway to the gun lobby, which cannot be allowed to use Congress to put profits ahead of public safety,” he added.
The HPA’s got a long way to go before it becomes law. But progress is progress and gun owners should be sanguine about its future. Remember, we have a pro-gun House, Senate, and POTUS. If there was a time to get it done, this is it!
The SHARE Act should now head to the House floor for consideration, provided Dems don’t find a way to sidetrack it with another committe hearing.