Okay, now this is a common sense gun law I can get behind. On October 22, 2015 the Hearing Protection Act (H.R. 3799) was introduced by Rep. Matt Salmon, R-Ariz. What does this mean for you?
This piece of legislation is designed to remove silencers from the National Firearms Act (NFA) designation. Instead of having to go through the same craziness that you would to purchase a machine gun, you could legally purchase a suppressor/silencer through a traditional ATF form 4473…the exact same process you undergo in order to purchase a regular firearm. Now that, my nappy headed hoes, is common sense.
So why is it that suppressors are so evil? In Criminal Use of Firearm Silencers, by Paul A. Clark, Western Criminology Review 8(2), 44-57 (2007), it was determined that in the United States between 1995 and 2005, only 153 federal cases involved suppressors. Out of that 153 cases, only 15 instances was the suppressor actually used in the commission of a crime. In most of those circumstances, it is a case of “tax evasion.” Meaning the possessor of the suppressor is not in the NFA database as having paid the requisite $200.00 tax stamp, and is thus in violation of the law. It is my belief that lawmakers watch too much T.V. I really do think that they believe that some sinister looking assassin slinking in the shadows is the only individual who would value the use of a sound suppressor on a firearm.
The facts just don’t line up with the perception of this fantastic device. In a Europe, where legal possession or use of a firearm is not a right for the average citizen, an individual can purchase suppressors with comparative ease. In fact, it is considered a matter of courtesy to your fellow man, and a health benefit to use a sound suppressor on your firearm.
Hearing Protection: When teaching young children and adults the shooting sports, the use of a device that makes a firearm hearing safe is a common sense health benefit. There have been numerous studies conducted that confirm this, but it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that continued exposure to sudden, loud noises can cause hearing loss.
Benefits for Hunters: When using a silencer in a hunting situation it’s a benefit that not only prevents hearing loss in hunters of all ages, but is also less likely to disturb wildlife. In addition, the hunter does not have to wear external hearing protection, and can be more aware of his surroundings than if he has reduced his ability to hear all the while protecting his hearing in the event he/she takes a shot.
I don’t think that most people realize that they can legally own a suppressor, much less that it is legal in most states to hunt with one (assuming that you’ve gone through the legal steps to purchase the suppressor). At the time of this writing, it is legal for individuals who have legally obtained a suppressor to use a suppressor in 42 of 50 states. It is legal for an individual who legally obtained a suppressor to hunt with said suppressor in 40 out of 50 states. That last statistic may jump up if the Hearing Protection Act passes, due to the benefits of the use of suppressors while hunting.
It is More Courteous: It is more courteous to those individuals who live or work near a location where someone may be legally discharging a firearm. This could be the neighbor of an individual gun owner, or landowners near a shooting range or a similar situation. If you live in an urban area, you may not have access to local shooting ranges, due to the noise complaints which would prevent most shooting clubs from staying open.
The passing of the Hearing Protection Act might even save the tax payers a little dough. At this point the process to obtain a suppressor is a lengthy one that consumes a large amount of resources by our federal government. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) has to devote quite a bit of time, manpower, and valuable resources to processing all of the Form 1 and Form 4 applications for something that does not make a firearm more deadly, effective, or sinister…its still the same gun…with the same bullet….just quieter.
[The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives…Sounds like my kind of bureau…bet they know how to party. These are a few of my favorite things.]
I would feel much better that my tax dollars are going to pay for a BATFE agent to do lots of other things before making sure that someone doesn’t get a firearm that isn’t as loud. These agents do a great deal to protect this country, and I think that they are too valuable of a resource to be wasted on a device that does not increase the perniciousness of a firearm.
The passage of the Hearing Protection Act (H.R. 3799) would be a benefit to all Americans who exercise their right as granted by God, and codified in the constitution to keep and bear arms. It would simplify the process for a law abiding citizen to exercise that right, and would provide for the betterment of the health of those individuals, and the people around them.
I would suggest that you contact your elected congressmen and congresswomen, and voice your support for this bill. I know it will be a while before it gets out of committee, but there’s no harm in expressing your support for the bill to your congressmen. Either way the squeaky wheel gets the suppressor, right?
Check out this video which does a great job of explaining what this bill will do.
In case you’re interested, in order to obtain an NFA item you must meet these basic requirements:
- Be 21 years of age or older to purchase from a dealer (Form 1); or 18 years of age to purchase from an individual (Form 4), or if you a beneficiary of a firearm trust or corporation
- Be a US citizen
- Be legally eligible to purchase a firearm (duh)
- Be able to pass the BATFE’s background check
- The process takes anywhere from 4 to 9 months
- You must pay a $200.00 tax for each NFA item
- The purchase of a that NFA firearm must be legal to own according to your state and local laws
If you want to see how a person can legally obtain an NFA firearm under the current laws, then click here to go to the ATF’s website. For general information on National Firearms Act (NFA) items, click here also on the ATF’s website for some frequently asked questions.
This post is not legal advise, so if you do something stupid after reading it, and intentionally or unintentionally break a federal, state or local law, then the author of this post is not at fault, and you will go your ass directly to jail. Consult with your local attorney prior to doing anything involving NFA firearms, because the laws regarding suppressors and NFA items frequently change, and are open to interpretation.
UPDATE: ON JANUARY 9, 2017, THIS BILL WAS REINTRODUCED AS THE HEARING PROTECTION ACT H.R. 367.
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