A bill passed by the Texas state legislature this weekend could remove federal licensing requirements for suppressors manufactured, purchased, and possessed within state borders, and provide a blueprint for other states to circumvent National Firearm Act restrictions.
In contrast to the state’s constitutional carry and Second Amendment sanctuary bills, this bill, HB 957, has received almost zero media attention. But it could be just as impactful, especially as red states around the country look for new ways to stick their collective finger in the eye of the gun-grabbing Biden administration.
The bill amends the state penal code to remove suppressors from items regulated within the state under the National Firearms Act. If passed and signed by Gov. Greg Abbott, the bill would (theoretically) allow Texas residents to purchase suppressors over the counter without paying a $200 tax stamp or going through the NFA approval process.
“A firearm suppressor that is manufactured in this state and remains in this state is not subject to federal law or federal regulation, including registration, under the authority of the United States Congress to regulate interstate commerce,” the bill states.
The bill requires all suppressors to be stamped with the words “Made in Texas,” and prohibits owners from taking the items to any other state.
For a suppressor to be considered “manufactured” in Texas, the can must be made in Texas from “basic materials” and without the inclusion of any part “imported from another state other than a generic and insignificant part.”
“Basic materials” can be sourced from outside the state because, according to the bill, basic materials, including unmachined steel, are not firearm suppressors and therefore not subject to federal regulation.
“Insignificant parts” are defined as those items that have manufacturing or consumer product applications other than inclusion in a firearm suppressor, including springs, screws, nuts, and pins.
The bill also includes a provision to allow prospective suppressor manufacturers to seek a judgment from a federal district judge on the constitutionality of the law. A manufacturer notifies the Texas attorney general, and the AG seeks the declaratory judgment from the feds. In other words, even if Gov. Abbott signs the bill, Texas residents SHOULD NOT start manufacturing their own suppressors right away.
The bill is premised on the idea that the U.S. Constitution only allows the federal government to regulate commerce “among the several states,” i.e., between states. If a suppressor is manufactured, sold, and possessed entirely within the state of Texas, the thinking goes, Congress can’t make a law regulating that item.
We won’t pretend to be constitutional scholars, but suffice it to say that Texas’ new suppressor bill sets up yet another showdown to determine the extent of state and federal power.
Gov. Abbott has not said whether he plans to sign the bill, and his press office has not returned a GunsAmerica request for comment.
HB 957 passed along party lines in the Senate (18-13) but picked up 13 Democratic votes in the House (95-51) without any Republican defections. The bill has 29 sponsors and co-sponsors in the House and three sponsors and co-sponsors in the Senate.