Gear, Parts and Accessories

Hearing Protection Act of 2017 — Call Your Congressmen Now!

Suppressor mounted on the end of a rifle barrel

Walking through the manufacturer and exhibitor booths at the 2017 Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor, Trade (SHOT) Show’s Industry Day at the Range, I had a chance to speak with several suppressor manufacturers as well as several dealers. The news was mixed but consistent. All were optimistic that a national bill would be passed, which is great news. However, none believed it would happen in the first 100 days of the President Trump’s term.

Suppressor mounted on the end of a rifle barrel
The Hearing Protection Act (HPA) would remove sound suppressors from regulation under the National Firearms Act (NFA) and treat them as ordinary firearms under the Gun Control Act of 1968 (GCA).

This is one of the very few times I hope the gun industry is wrong—the sooner the better. While it is the lawmakers in Congress that will have to do the ultimate work, you and I can do our part with a simple call or email. Here is the full release from the NRA.

On Monday, Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID) – joined by co-sponsors Sens. Jerry Moran (R-KS) and Rand Paul (R-KY) – introduced S. 59, the Hearing Protection Act of 2017 (HPA). Similar legislation was introduced in the House by Reps. Jeff Duncan (R-SC) and John Carter (R-TX) – along with 42 co-sponsors – as H.R. 367.

The HPA would remove sound suppressors from regulation under the National Firearms Act (NFA) and treat them as ordinary firearms under the Gun Control Act of 1968 (GCA). As with other firearms, commercial manufacturers, dealers, and importers would still have to be licensed, and the items’ retail sales would be subject to the GCA’s background check and transfer form requirements.

Currently, suppressors (misleadingly referred to as “silencers” in federal law) are subject to the NFA’s cumbersome and lengthy application process and a $200 tax stamp. Lawful purchasers can expect a raft of red tape and months of waiting. This is so, even though the devices themselves are completely harmless and very rarely used in crime.

Like a muffler on an automobile, suppressors reduce the muzzle report of the firearm to which they are attached, protecting the hearing of the firearm’s operator and reducing noise and disturbance to those in nearby vicinities. Recoil is also dampened.

“Gun owners and sportsmen should be able to enjoy their outdoor heritage with the tools necessary to do so safely. This bill makes it easier for them to do that,” stated NRA-ILA Executive Director Chris Cox.

Contrary to their portrayal in movies and television shows, suppressors do not render firearms all but soundless. They do, however, make them safer and quieter to operate.

Suppressors have soared in popularity in recent years, as more and more hunters and firearm owners have discovered their benefits. Private ownership is legal in 42 states, and they are lawful for hunting in 40 of those states.

Ironically, regulation of suppressors is one area where American gun owners are at a relative disadvantage to their counterparts in other countries. In England – which has gone a long way toward eradicating private firearm ownership – suppressors are nevertheless encouraged for private firearm owners and mandatory for uses such as pest control.

It is inconsistent, if not incoherent, that mufflers are commonly used or even legally required on noise-producing tools in the U.S. – including cars, lawn mowers, chainsaws, etc. – but legally discouraged for use on firearms.

It’s also the height of hypocrisy for gun control groups posing as “safety organizations” and pushing so-called “smart gun” technology to oppose legislation that would increase the safety and reduce the collateral effects of lawfully-owned guns.

The NRA strongly supports the HPA and thanks its sponsors and co-sponsors in the U.S. House and U.S. Senate for their leadership in this important effort. We also commend the American Suppressor Association, which has provided valuable insight and expertise on this issue.

“Gun owners and sportsmen should be able to enjoy their outdoor heritage with the tools necessary to do so safely. This bill makes it easier for them to do that,” stated NRA-ILA Executive Director Chris Cox.

Please make sure your U.S. senators and congressional representative hear from you on this legislation to protect Second Amendment rights and the health of the American gun owner. It is long past time to discard America’s antiquated and unsupported approach to suppressor regulation.

You can contact your member of Congress via our Write Your Reps tool by clicking HERE or use the Congressional switchboard at (202) 224-3121.

The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (8)

  1. supressors are no different than any other add on for a gun. you can put all sorts of things on most any gun that help the person to be a better marksman and this is no different. Look at a scope they aren’t regulated but can make someone able to hit a target at 500-1000 yrds and if that was a person they would never hear the shot fired. whats the difference?

  2. “Hearing Protection Act of 2017”

    That has to be the stupidest name for a law I’ve ever hear, and the analogy to cars and lawnmowers is a tortured one. A loud gun affects the owner; the others affect everyone.

  3. I hope when suppressors are legally available they’ll standard on the thread size. Although I have a number of firearms, I’d like to hunt squirrels with a suppressor with my air rifle which is already threaded with 1/2-20 threads.
    I also hope they don’t retain that $200 tax.

    1. @ Spencer: no $200 tax stamp, that’s the point of having them removed from NFA ’34…

      @ Frank: they’d xfer on a form 4473 just like a firearm. Won’t be “more bureaucratic b.s., since presently they’re grouped with machine guns, short-barreled rifles & -shotguns with the finger printing, sign off by local chief LEO, $200 tax and 6 mos. wait on processing that entails. Still won’t be legal here behind the Granola Curtain: the People’s Republik of Kommiefornia bans suppressors outright. But at least those living in Free America will have better access to on-gun hearing protection!

    2. The Hearing Protection Act also preempts state laws on the regulation of suppressors. So, they should be legal in all 50 states!

    3. While stupid, it’s WAY less stupid than classifying them the same as machine guns and destructive devices. At least you could go buy one at a gun store the same day, after a background check. Currently it takes 6 months and a bunch of useless paperwork.

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