February 18th, 2023

Legislation Introduced to Simplify Suppressor Purchase Process

suppressor ATF Form 4 Tax stamp

U.S. Senator Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) has re-introduced the Hearing Protection Act which will make it easier to obtain suppressors in the USA. The legislation, S. 401, is co-sponsored by 24 additional senators. This U.S. Senate bill would provide greater access to firearm suppressors/silencers by removing them from the 1934 National Firearms Act. With this change in the law, suppressors could be acquired relatively easily, as is the case in the vast majority of other first-world nations. There would be no massive fees, burdensome applications, and long wait times to obtain an official $200 Tax Stamp. With a quick NICS check, a suppressor buyer could be approved, and not have to wait for months.

suppressor ATF Form 4 Tax stamp
Wait times for processing Form 4 ATF applications for suppressors now average 11 months (315 days).

“This no-nonsense legislation by Senator Crapo would remove unnecessary and onerous regulations for an accessory that is nothing more than a muffler for a gun”, said Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF Sr. VP and General Counsel. “Suppressors are safety tools that reduce the sound of gunfire to a level that won’t cause instant and permanent hearing loss, enables more accurate marksmanship, and allows shooting ranges to be better neighbors. The Hearing Protection Act would reduce unnecessary barriers for this accessory that is currently regulated the same way as automatic firearms. Suppressors were originally listed under the National Firearms Act over poaching concerns during the Great Depression, but those fears proved to be unfounded. Suppressors don’t completely silence a firearm, only reduce the report from a level equal to a jet taking off to one similar to that of a jackhammer.”

The Hearing Protection Act would reclassify suppressors by removing them from the 1934 National Firearms Act. That would replace the current burdensome federal transfer process with a rapid National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) verification, making the purchase process for suppressors similar to acquiring a standard rifle or shotgun (not short-barreled). The legislation would also tax suppressors under the Pittman-Robertson Act instead of the National Firearms Act, putting more funding into state wildlife conservation agencies.

Proposed Federal Statute Would Not Change State Laws
The proposed Hearing Protection Act would not change any laws in states that already prevent suppressor use or ownership, nor does it eliminate background check requirements. Suppressors are legal to own in 42 states and 41 states allow them for hunting. Similar legislation, H.R. 152, was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives earlier this year by Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.).

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