Republicans on Capitol Hill last week introduced bicameral legislation that aims to drop all federal regulation of suppressors and silencers.
The Silencers Helping Us Save Hearing Act, backed in the Senate by Sens. Mike Lee of Utah and Mike Crapo of Idaho, and in the House by Iowa Congressman Steve King, would mandate that suppressors be treated the same as firearm accessories.
“Suppressors can make shooting safer for the millions of hunters and sportsmen that exercise their constitutional right to use firearms every year,” Lee said in a statement from his office. “The current process for obtaining a suppressor is far too expensive and burdensome. Our bill would remove these unnecessary federal regulations and make it easier for firearms users to protect themselves.”
The bill, entered as S.1505 in the Senate and H.R.3139 in the House, would not only remove suppressors from National Firearms Act requirements — a goal of the rival Hearing Protection Act — but also classify them as simple accessories which could be sold over the counter. The Hearing Protection Act, currently with 154 co-sponsors, would eliminate the $200 transfer tax on suppressors by dropping them from NFA rules, but still requires they should be transferred through federal firearms licensees after a background check, regulating them as firearms. Both bills provide for a refund on tax stamps bought since Oct. 22, 2015.
Crapo hails from Idaho, a state that is home to well-known suppressor maker Gemtech as well as a host of smaller manufacturers such as StingerWorx, Ballista and Tactical Innovations; while Lee’s home state of Utah counts SilencerCo and OSS Suppressors among its firearms industries. Iowa, where King’s district is located, became the 42nd state to legalize suppressor ownership by civilians last year.
Gun control advocates, who are opposed to the Hearing Protection Act, immediately slammed the new proposal.
“The bill would end the federal requirement for background checks on firearm silencer sales, and make it legal for convicted felons, domestic abusers, and the dangerously mentally ill to buy and possess silencers,” said Everytown in a statement. “To the satisfaction of NRA headquarters, the legislation would profit gun manufacturers, who could mass market firearm silencers at the expense of public safety.”
The Senate measure has been referred to the Finance Committee while the House version of the SHUSH Act has been double referred to both the Ways and Means and Judiciary committees.