January 8th, 2021

Legislation (H.R. 95) Would Make It Easier to Buy Suppressors

Hearing Protection Act suppressor silencer thunderbeast
Thunder Beast Arms suppressors from the SilencerShop.

A bill has been introduced in the U.S. Congress to make it much easier to buy a suppressor (aka silencer). Well it’s about time! While other countries permit (and even encourage) suppressor use with minimal regulation, the USA still requires local police involvement, lengthy waits, onerous background checks, fingerprints, and a $200 tax stamp just to own a metal cannister that reduces the noise of a firearm. That doesn’t make sense. At last some politicians are working to change those restrictions.

The Hearing Protection Act (H.R. 95)

U.S. Congressman Jeff Duncan of South Carolina has introduced H.R. 95, The Hearing Protection Act. This bill would remove firearm suppressors from the 1934 National Firearms Act (NFA), eliminating onerous and duplicitous background checks. Instead, suppressors would be regulated under the 1968 Gun Control Act (GCA) with the same background check that is required for a retail firearm purchase.

Hearing Protection Act H.R. 95 Jeff Duncan NFA GCA

It makes sense to change the law. Currently it is a major, costly burden to obtain a suppressor even though firearm suppressors are legal to own and possess in 42 states. Some countries actually REQUIRE the use of a suppressor when hunting or recreationally shooting. In Europe, suppressors are widely available and can often be purchased in a hardware store without a background check. So why is America so different? Because we have stupid, antiquated laws that do not recognize the many benefits of suppressors.

H.R. 95 Hearing protection act suppressor silencer law tax stamp Class III

How to Obtain a Suppressor Currently — Too Many Hurdles and “Red Tape”
Under current law, an individual purchasing a suppressor must locate a retailer that is regulated as a NFA Class III dealer, complete a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Form 4 with the model and serial number of the suppressor, and obtain two passport photos and fingerprint cards from a local police department. The local chief law enforcement official must receive a completed copy of the application. Then the form, photographs and fingerprints must be sent to ATF along with a check to pay the $200 tax. Currently, it takes ATF about nine months to process the paperwork. Then, the customer can obtain the suppressor from the NFA Class III dealer upon an additional background check through FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).

Congressman Duncan’s legislation would eliminate those requirements and make suppressors available with the same paperwork, record-keeping, and background check procedure that is currently required for purchasing a firearm. So if you can buy a rifle, shotgun or pistol now, you could also buy a suppressor, with no extra fees, licenses, tax stamps, fingerprinting, or police approvals.

H.R. 95 Hearing protection act suppressor silencer law tax stamp Class III

“This legislation removes barriers to owning an accessory that makes recreational shooting and hunting safer, more accurate and allows shooting ranges to be better neighbors”, said Lawrence Keane, NSSF Senior Vice President and General Counsel. “Firearm suppressors are a safety device designed to make recreational shooting safer. They were originally listed under the NFA over concerns of poaching during the Great Depression, but that never bore out. Even today, suppressors are exceedingly rarely used in crime.”

H.R. 95 Hearing protection act suppressor silencer law tax stamp Class III

Firearm suppressors reduce the report of a firearm from a level typically about 165 decibels — roughly equal to that of a jet taking off. Sound levels that high can cause instant and permanent hearing loss. A quality suppressor can reduce the sound by 30 to 35 decibels. That suppressed noise level is still loud, but will not permanently damage hearing. Suppressors work similarly to a car’s muffler, redirecting exhaust gases. The suppressor/silencer was first patented more than 100 years ago by Hiram Maxim.

H.R. 95 Hearing protection act suppressor silencer law tax stamp Class III

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