U.S. Rep. Matt Salmon, R-Ariz (AZ-05), has proposed legislation that would remove suppressors and silencers from National Firearms Act regs and treat them as regular firearms. Here are more details about the bill.
This legislation (H.R. 3799) will remove suppressors from the purview of the National Firearms Act (NFA), replacing the federal transfer process with an instantaneous NICS background check. The act also includes a provision to refund the $200 transfer tax to applicants who purchase a suppressor after October 22, 2015.
It is currently legal to hunt with a suppressor in 37 states. Forty-one states allow private ownership of suppressors.
“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 American Suppressor Association (ASA).
Also known as silencers, 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 gases of ignited gunpowder at the muzzle.
On average, suppressors reduce the noise of a gunshot by 20 to 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.
“The removal of suppressors from the National Firearms Act has been our ultimate goal since day one. For months, we have worked alongside Rep. Salmon’s office and the National Rifle Association to craft this legislation,” said Williams. “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 with Rep. Salmon and the NRA to advance and ultimately enact this common-sense legislation.” 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 that is required to purchase a machine gun, and wait months for the ATF to process and approve the paperwork.
“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.
According to the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record for 2015 (and listed as Exhibit 8 in the Firearms Commerce in the United States Annual Statistical Update), there were 792,282 silencers registered in the country, up more than 221 thousand from 2014’s total of 571,150.
Civilian silencer ownership jumped 37% in 2013, when the tally was half a million, compared to 360,000 in 2012 and 285,000 in 2011.