On Thursday, October 22, Rep. Matt Salmon (R-AZ) introduced H.R. 3799, the Hearing Protection Act (HPA) along with 10 co-sponsors, including Representatives Frank Guinta (R-NH), John Carter (R-TX), Mike Kelly (R-PA), Chris Collins (R-NY), Glenn Thompson (R-PA), Tim Huelskamp (R-KS), Trent Franks (R-AZ), Mia Love (R-UT), Doug LaMalfa (R-CA), and Chris Stewart (R-UT). The HPA would remove silencers from regulation under the National Firearms Act (NFA), leaving them to be treated as ordinary firearms subject to the usual NICS check and Form 4473 for dealer sales.
Currently, silencers are subject to the NFA process with “CLEO sign-off,” a 4 to 14 month wait and a $200 tax. In and of itself a silencer is completely harmless (unless you batter someone over the head with one!). Their primary function is to reduce the sound signature of the firearm to which they are attached, protecting the hearing of the shooter and reducing noise and disturbance to those close by.
Although they have been subject to heightened regulation under federal law since 1934, silencers have become increasingly popular in recent years, as more and more hunters and firearm enthusiasts have discovered their benefits.
The process has been made incredibly easy the past few years by a company known as silencershop.com who is like the Amazon.com of the NFA world. As a distributor they keep a huge variety of silencers in inventory and can help buyers establish a trust if they need it. Simply order on line, pay for it and select a local dealer to have the item delivered once the paperwork clears.
At times it may be easier or more convenient to buy from a local dealer, but many simply do not have the selection that silencershop.com offers and the folks at silencer shop play an extremely active role in protecting our second amendment rights with regard to NFA.
Still, as easy as silencershop.com makes it to purchase silencers, it is high time that these safety devices were removed from the purview of the NFA.
Silencers may be legally obtained in 41 states, and they are lawful for hunting in 37. Ironically, US regulation is one area where American firearm owners are at a relative disadvantage to their counterparts in other countries. Many European nations place no regulations on their acquisition or use. Here in the U.S., it is inconsistent, to say the least, that while mufflers are legally required or commonly included on a various noise-producing tools – including cars, lawn mowers, and chainsaws – the law discourages their use on firearms.
They are considered “firearms” under the federal Gun Control Act of 1968, and they would continue to be so under the HPA. This means that their commercial manufacturers and dealers would have to be licensed. Background checks on buyers and record-keeping requirements for dealers would continue, and people with serious criminal histories or prior mental health commitments or adjudications still could not possess them. They would, however, be more readily available to law-abiding gun owners who could benefit from their use.
To ensure the possibility of passage of the HPA does not discourage people from exercising their rights to acquire silencers in the meantime, the Act would allow those who buy one after October 22, 2015, but before the Act’s effective date, to obtain a refund of the NFA’s $200 tax.