Lawmakers working to silence regulations on suppressors
Thursday, February 16, 2017
As predicted in November, the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States, combined with the fact that Republicans continue to control both houses of Congress, means that we're likely to see some pro-Second Amendment legislation passed at the federal level. So far, lawmakers have put their money where their mouths are.
On the first day Congress was in session, Rep. Hudson (R-N.C.) introduced the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017. A few days later, Republicans in the House and Senate introduced the Hearing Protection Act of 2017, which would dramatically simplify the process of legally purchasing suppressors.
Introduced by Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) and Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) in January, H.R.367 and S.59 — both known as the Hearing Protection Act of 2017 — are duplicate bills introduced simultaneously in the House and Senate that would remove suppressors from regulation under the National Firearms Act of 1934.
The bills are identical to the Hearing Protection Act of 2015 that (now retired) Representative Matt Salmon (R-AZ) introduced back in October 2015. You can learn more about the details of the original bill here. In short, this bill would permit law-abiding citizens to purchase a suppressor after merely passing a background check and would eliminate all the current hoops people must jump through with the ATF to purchase a suppressor.
Even though Republicans controlled both houses of Congress when Rep. Salmon introduced the legislation, the bill went nowhere. Understandably, Republican leaders in Congress probably did not want to spend political capitol working to pass a bill that President Barack Obama was virtually guaranteed to veto.
However, the political landscape now is radically different from 2015. Trump's son, Donald Jr., signaled the potential for support for such a measure in a Trump White House during a recent interview with SilencerCo (I'm sure the location of the interview was no accident).
With this in mind, legislators in both houses of Congress seem to be more motivated to pass this legislation, and both bills already have significantly more co-sponsors (100 in the House and seven in the Senate at the time of publication) than the original Hearing Protection Act accumulated in 2015 and 2016.
Not surprisingly, many gun control advocates (most of whom clearly have no idea how suppressors work) oppose the bill and are arguing that it will make it easier for criminals to acquire suppressors. However, their arguments are pretty weak, and it's not clear that they'll be able to stop this legislation.
A white paper recently published by ATF Associate Deputy Director Ronald B. Turk also advocated (among other things) removing suppressors from regulation under the National Firearms Act of 1934. Basically, he argued that the ATF spends a tremendous amount of time, energy and money processing suppressor applications for little or no public safety benefit.
For instance, Turk stated that since suppressors are so rarely used in crimes that the ATF only recommended prosecution for an average of 44 cases a year for suppressor-related offenses. For this reason, he argues the ATF's resources would be better utilized in other areas.
Looking at it this way, it's difficult to disagree with him.
Even though there aren't many strong arguments against the Hearing Protection Act, you can bet anti-gun groups are going to put up a heck of a fight against this bill. Nothing is guaranteed either way, but the odds of passing legislation have never been as good as they are now.
Make sure your voice is heard. Contact your representatives in Washington, D.C., today to urge them to vote for H.R. 367 or S.59.
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