Time for the feds to deregulate gun suppressors
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Thanks to President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump nominates ambassador to Turkey Trump heads to Mar-a-Lago after signing bill to avert shutdown CNN, MSNBC to air ad turned down by Fox over Nazi imagery MORE’s election, there is renewed interest in promoting safe and responsible firearms use. That includes promoting gun safety in the form of hearing protection. Given precedent and Republican control of all branches of government, it’s incumbent upon Congress to pass the Hearing Protection Act to deregulate suppressors.

Suppressors are gunshot-muffling devices retrofitted for rifles, shotguns, and pistols. When a gun is fired, propellant gases travel from a small barrel chamber into open air. As pressure and temperature change, it results in the blast we commonly associate with guns. When a suppressor is attached to the barrel of a firearm, it allows the gasses contained there to have more space to dissipate and cool before being exposed to open air. Therefore, a suppressor will reduce gunshot noise to safe hearing levels below 140 decibels. This doesn’t mean forgoing hearing protection altogether. In turn, it will reduce gunshot noise by roughly 20 to 35 decibels—which is the equivalent of wearing earplugs or earmuffs.

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The Hearing Protection Act has a good shot of passing in the 115th Congress. Why? Renewed interest in deregulating suppressors (also known as “silencers”) came last fall after Donald Trump, Jr. met with SilencerCo, a Utah-based company that manufactures silencers.

 

“It’s about safety,” Trump Jr. explained in a September video interview with SilencerCo’s founder. “It’s a health issue, frankly.”

Trump is absolutely correct. Suppressors are a hot commodity in the firearms industry. Over 900,000 were sold, per ATF estimates, as of February 2016. Gun owners and other firearms enthusiasts are very concerned about hearing protection. That’s why members of Congress have jumped on board to deregulate them.

House and Senate versions of the proposed legislation were introduced on Jan. 9, 2017. H.R. 367, also known as the Duncan-Carter Bill, was introduced by Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) and has 81 co-sponsors. The latter—S.59—was introduced by Sen. Mike CrapoMichael (Mike) Dean CrapoOn The Money: Lawmakers race to pass border deal | Trump rips 'stingy' Democrats, but says shutdown would be 'terrible' | Battle over contractor back pay | Banking panel kicks off data security talks Hillicon Valley: Lawmakers press officials on 2020 election security | T-Mobile, Sprint execs defend merger before Congress | Officials charge alleged Iranian spy | Senate panel kicks off talks on data security bill Senate Banking panel kicks off talks on data security bill MORE (R-Idaho) with Sens. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulBusiness, conservative groups slam Trump’s national emergency declaration The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Kidney Care Partners — Trump escalates border fight with emergency declaration On The Money: Trump declares emergency at border | Braces for legal fight | Move divides GOP | Trump signs border deal to avoid shutdown | Winners, losers from spending fight | US, China trade talks to resume next week MORE (R-Ky.), John CornynJohn CornynPoll shows competitive matchup if O’Rourke ran for Senate again On The Money: Trump declares emergency at border | Braces for legal fight | Move divides GOP | Trump signs border deal to avoid shutdown | Winners, losers from spending fight | US, China trade talks to resume next week How the border deal came together MORE (R-Texas), and Jerry MoranGerald (Jerry) MoranSenators optimistic about reaching funding deal GOP senators read Pence riot act before shutdown votes On The Money: Shutdown Day 26 | Pelosi calls on Trump to delay State of the Union | Cites 'security concerns' | DHS chief says they can handle security | Waters lays out agenda | Senate rejects effort to block Trump on Russia sanctions MORE (R-Kan.) as co-sponsors. Similar legislation was introduced in the 114th Congress but failed to garner traction. However, it’ll likely pass this session.

Suppressors are currently legal in 42 states but are difficult to obtain. Those interested in purchasing them must undergo a rigorous process due to current federal and state regulations currently in place under the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives National Firearms Act. In order to purchase a suppressor, one must be a resident of the U.S., must be legally eligible to purchase a firearm, and consent to a BAFTE background check. Moreover, one must be at least 21 years old to purchase it from a dealer or at least 18 years old to purchase it from another person.

If HPA passes, it will remove suppressors from the NFA, meaning the purchase and transfer of suppressors would be treated like long guns. Those interested in purchasing suppressors will consent to an instant NICS background check following purchase and a maximum transfer tax valued at $200. Following passage of this bill, anyone paying the $200 transfer tax on a suppressor after January 9, 2017, will qualify for a tax refund.

Suppressors have many added benefits in addition to hearing protection. They reduce firearm recoil by making it easier for increased accuracy while target shooting. The American Suppressor Association also notes suppressors help contain the explosion of gunpowder at the muzzle of a firearm by reducing recoil and helping decrease muzzle flinch—leading to improved accuracy, precise shot placements, and more humane hunting harvests.

Like many other responsible gun owners out there, I would like to access and purchase suppressors with greater ease one day. Why? I hope to enhance my target shooting experience and continue practicing the safe handling of firearms. Suppressors not only protect a shooter’s hearing, but also enable shooters to shoot more precisely and not disrupt nearby surroundings.

Let’s hope Congress acts on this important safety measure during this 115th session.

Gabriella Hoffman (@Gabby_Hoffman) is a conservative media strategist and consultant based in Northern Virginia.


The views expressed by contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.