This week, Congressman Jeff Duncan (R-SC) and Congressman John “Judge” Carter (R-TX) introduced the highly anticipated H.R. 367, the Hearing Protection Act (HPA).
The Hearing Protection Act is a big, big deal as it would make suppressors cheaper and easier to purchase by removing them from the National Firearms Act (NFA).
Under current law, if one wants a gun muffler they have to wade through a bunch of NFA red tape (registration, photographs & fingerprints, CLEO sign-off), which includes paying a transfer tax of $200, and wait months before receiving their can.
If HPA is approved, the purchasing process would be entirely streamlined and would be analogous to purchasing a firearm from an FFL or gun shop dealer. There would be no NFA paperwork to deal with, no transfer tax, no lengthy waiting period. Instead, all one would need to do is pass a FBI National Instant Criminal Background Check. Easy-peasy.
Sadly, though, this would only be the case for the 42 states that have legalized suppressors. For citizens living in California, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and the District of Columbia, where suppressors have been explicitly outlawed, well, you’d be out of luck.
“I’ve enjoyed the shooting sports since I was a young child – beginning with plinking with a .22 rifle and dove hunting with my dad,” said Rep. Duncan in a press release. “My hearing has been damaged because of gun noise. Had I had access to a suppressor, it may have protected me, as well as millions of other Americans, from this sort of hearing loss.”
“This is a health issue even recognized in Europe,” continued Duncan. “It just doesn’t make any sense to regulate suppressors the way we do presently. I think it certainly is questionable from a constitutional standpoint. It’s striking that even Britain, which has some of the strictest gun laws in the world, has no restrictions on suppressors.”
The bill enjoys bipartisan support and has 43 original cosponsors. It’s also supported by various gun-rights organizations and groups, including the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus, and the National Rifle Association.
“Many gun owners and sportsmen suffer severe hearing loss after years of shooting, and yet the tool necessary to reduce such loss is onerously regulated and taxed. It doesn’t make any sense,” said Chris W. Cox, executive director, NRA-ILA. “The Duncan-Carter Hearing Protection Act would allow people easier access to suppressors, which would help them to better protect their hearing.”
Naturally, anti-gunners vehemently oppose the measure. They believe it would make it easier for criminals and potential mass shooters to perpetrate attacks.
“They want the general public to think it’s about hearing aids or something,” Kristen Rand, the legislative director of the Violence Policy Center, told The Washington Post. “It’s both a silly and smart way to do it, I guess. But when the general public finds out what’s really happening, there will be outrage.”
Of course, that raises the question of “outraged” over what? As the NSSF notes, “Suppressed firearms are clearly not the choice of criminals. The fears and concerns about suppressor ownership and use are unfounded and have not been seen in the over 100-year history of suppressors.”
Plus, and it’s worth circling back to this point, they’re legal to use in many countries in Europe! If it’s not even an issue for our neighbors across the pond who have notoriously stringent gun laws, then why aren’t suppressors already a mainstream accessory here in the U.S.?
The fact that they’re so heavily regulated makes zero sense. And judging by comments made by Donald Trump Jr., the son of our soon-to-be president, he gets it.
“It’s about safety,” said in a September video (see below) interview with Joshua Waldron, the founder of SilencerCo. “It’s a health issue, frankly.”
We’ll keep an eye on the HPA. Keep in mind that this is one of several pro-gun bills that have been launched in recent weeks. Two other bills to keep and eye on are the “Safe Students Act” (H.R. 34), a bill that would repeal the Gun-Free School Zones Act (GFSZA) of 1990 and the “Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017.”