Hearing Protection Act (H.R. 367) Introduced in Congress
We may see a big change in how sound suppressors are regulated in the future, if new legislation from the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC) becomes law. On January 10, 2017, Rep. Jeff Duncan (SC) and Rep. John “Judge” Carter (TX) introduced H.R. 367, the Hearing Protection Act (HPA). This law would remove suppressors (aka “moderators”) from National Firearms Act (NFA) control, eliminating requirements of extensive paperwork, and purchase of a tax stamp. If the Hearing Protection Act becomes law, suppressors could be purchased through an FFL (after a NICS background check), just like a normal, non-NFA firearm. This would make suppressors more affordable in the 42 states where suppressors are legal to own. What’s more, the new legislation includes a provision to refund the $200 transfer tax to applicants who purchased a suppressor after Oct. 22, 2015.
Suppressors function by trapping the expanding gasses at the muzzle, allowing them to slowly cool in a baffled chamber. On average, suppressors reduce the noise of a gunshot by 20-35 decibels (dB), roughly the same sound reduction as earplugs or earmuffs. In addition to hearing protection, suppressors also mitigate noise complaints from those who live near shooting ranges.
“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.”
Guns.com explained how the Hearing Protection Act will change current law: “Since 1934, the federal government has treated devices designed to muffle or suppress the report of firearms as Title II devices that required registration under the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record and mandated transfers that included a $200 tax stamp. The Duncan-Carter bill would repeal this requirement and treat suppressors as firearms — which would allow them to be transferred through any regular federal firearms license holders to anyone not prohibited from possessing them after the buyer passes an FBI instant background check.”
This video discusses an earlier version of the Hearing Protection Act, H.R. 3799:
“For the past five years, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) has worked alongside the state legislative sportsmen’s caucuses in the National Assembly of Sportsmen’s Caucuses, the American Suppressor Association, and many other partners at the state level to normalize the use of suppressors throughout the nation,” said CSF President Jeff Crane. A similar bill was introduced last year by Rep. Matt Salmon (AZ) but that legislation never made it out of committee.
If you have purchased a suppressor in the last year, the HPA could put money back in your pocket. As drafted, the HPA also includes a provision to refund the $200 transfer tax to applicants who purchased a suppressor after October 22, 2015.
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