Last week, Senator Mike Lee (R-UT), along with Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX), John Cornyn (R-TX), Rand Paul (R-KY), James Risch (R-ID), and Mike Crapo (R-ID) introduced a bill that would eliminate the federal regulation of firearm sound suppressors.
“Suppressors can make shooting safer for the millions of hunters and sportsmen that exercise their constitutional right to use firearms every year,” Sen. Lee said in a press release. “The current process for obtaining a suppressor is far too expensive and burdensome. Our bill would remove these unnecessary federal regulations and make it easier for firearms users to protect themselves.”
In introducing the bill, called the Silencers Helping Us Save Hearing Act or SHUSH Act (S. 202), Sen. Lee explained that it would eliminate the “onerous and unconstitutional process” that must currently be followed when purchasing a suppressor.
The current process requires filing a petition with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF). To file the petition, a purchaser must fill out two copies of ATF Form 4 (which requires that a passport photo be attached to each copy), obtain two copies of his/her fingerprints on FBI Form FD-258, and pay a $200 processing fee. It takes nine to 12 months for the petition to be processed.
Suppressors would be considered firearm accessories and the current petitioning requirements would be eliminated if the bill becomes law.
The bill already has its critics. David Chipman, a senior policy advisor for the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence and a retired ATF special agent called the bill “reckless” and said it would make the job of a police officer more dangerous.
“The only people that benefit from this bill are gun lobbyists and criminals who want easier access to deadly weapons,” Chipman said. “That’s why this irresponsible legislation couldn’t get passed when Republicans had complete control of Congress. Instead of making it easier for firearms that could be used in ambushes and other attacks to enter our streets, Congress should focus on making the job of police officers who are trained to serve and protect our communities and families safer.”
Kris Brown, the president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, also criticized the bill.
“With public opinion and the majority of new members of Congress clearly on the side of gun safety, it’s a shame that Senator Lee is continuing to push his silencer bill on behalf of the gun industry,” Brown said.
The bill was formally introduced on January 24, 2019. It was read twice and referred to the Committee on Finance for further action. The text of the bill had not been received from the Government Publishing Office at the time this article was published.
This marks the second time that the SHUSH Act has been introduced by Sen. Lee. It was previously introduced in 2017 but never made it out of committee.