Landmark legislation introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives last week would significantly alter and simplify how firearms suppressors are purchased and sold in the United States.
The Hearing Protection Act (HPA) removes suppressors from the regulatory authority granted under the National Firearms Act (NFA), replacing the current federal transfer process with a standard National Criminal Instant Background Check (NICS). Introduced this week by Rep. Matt Salmon (AZ-05), the Hearing Protection Act was created with the guidance of the American Suppressor Association (ASA) and is supported by the National Rifle Association.
The manufacture and sales of suppressors, also know as silencers, is strictly regulated by the federal government under the National Firearms Act of 1934. Currently, those intending to purchase a suppressor are required to complete an application to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) and pay a $200 transfer tax for each suppressor unit. In addition, the same background check required for ownership of a machine gun is performed on the individual, resulting in a process that may take several months.
Rep. Salmon’s measure removes the $200 transfer tax and would only require buyers to pass the same background check criteria as law-abiding gun purchasers now undergo through a federally licensed firearms dealer.
It is currently legal to hunt with a suppressor in 37 states, and 41 states permit private ownership of suppressors.
Interest in suppressor use has increased exponentially in the past few years, as shooters and hunters have become more aware of potential hearing damage caused by firearms. Suppressors also reduce recoil and muzzle rise, and in many cases may help increase accuracy. The noise reduction offered by suppressors is seen as a benefit for hunters seeking permission to hunt on private land and in areas of expanding urbanization where hunting is permitted, as well as at shooting ranges located in developing areas.
“Suppressors significantly reduce the chance of hearing loss for anyone who enjoys the shooting sports,” said Chris Cox, executive director of NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action. “On behalf of the NRA and our 5 million members, I want to thank Rep. Salmon for his leadership on this important bill.”