WASHINGTON, D.C. – The American Suppressor Association (ASA) is pleased to announce the reintroduction of the Hearing Protection Act (HPA) by Rep. Jeff Duncan (SC-03) and Rep. John Carter (TX-31). This historic piece of legislation, which was originally introduced by Rep. Matt Salmon (AZ-05) in the 114th Congress, will remove suppressors from the purview of the National Firearms Act (NFA), replacing the antiquated federal transfer process with an instantaneous NICS background check. The HPA also includes a provision to refund the $200 transfer tax to applicants who purchase a suppressor after October 22, 2015, which was the original date of introduction.
“The American Suppressor Association believes that citizens should not have to pay a tax to protect their hearing while exercising their Second Amendment rights,” said Knox Williams, President and Executive Director of the ASA. “We are thrilled for the opportunity to work with Representatives Duncan and Carter, who have reintroduced the Hearing Protection Act in this new Congress. Although we recognize that introducing this bill is the first step in what will be a lengthy process to change federal law, we look forward to working on the Duncan-Carter bill, alongside the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation and the NRA to advance and ultimately enact this common- sense legislation.”
Also known as silencers, suppressors are the hearing protection of the 21st century sportsman. Despite common Hollywood-based misconceptions, the laws of physics dictate that no suppressor will ever be able to render gunfire silent. Suppressors are simply mufflers for firearms, which function by trapping the expanding gasses at the muzzle, allowing them to slowly cool in a controlled environment. On average, suppressors reduce the noise of a gunshot by 20 – 35 decibels (dB), roughly the same sound reduction as earplugs or earmuffs. In addition to hearing protection, suppressors also mitigate noise complaints from those who live near shooting ranges and hunting lands.
Unfortunately, suppressors have been federally regulated since the passage of the National Firearms Act of 1934. The NFA regulates the transfer and possession of certain types of firearms and devices, including suppressors. Currently, prospective buyers must send in a Form 4 application to the ATF, pay a $200 transfer tax per suppressor, undergo the same background check process that is required to purchase a machine gun, and wait months for the ATF to process and approve the paperwork. In stark contrast, many countries in Europe place no regulations on their purchase, possession, or use.
The Duncan-Carter Hearing Protection Act will fix the flawed federal treatment of suppressors, making it easier for hunters and sportsmen to protect their hearing in the 42 states where private suppressor ownership is currently legal, and the 40 states where hunting with a suppressor is legal. This legislation will remove suppressors from the onerous requirements of the NFA, and instead require purchasers to pass an instant NICS check, the same background check that is used during the sale of long guns. In doing so, law-abiding citizens will remain free to purchase suppressors, while prohibited persons will continue to be barred from purchasing or possessing these accessories.