While Republicans in the House are pushing legislation to roll back the jumbled federal oversight of firearm suppressors, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) says she is ready to fight efforts to make “deadly gun silencers” easier to acquire.
On January 9, Representatives Jeff Duncan (R-SC-3) and John Carter (R-TX-31) introduced the Hearing Protection Act. This bill points to the hearing benefits of hunting and shooting with suppressors, and it also reduces the cumbersome acquisition process for the devices by removing them from the purview of the National Firearms Act (NFA).
For example, to currently acquire a suppressor, an individual has to be photographed and fingerprinted, undergo a background check, pay the federal government a $200 tax, and register his suppressor with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). This process takes approximately six to eight months. The process is so burdensome that ATF Associate Director Ronald Turk recently described it as “archaic” and suggested that moving the devices out from under the purview of the NFA could correct the problem.
The Washington Post published a white paper in which Turk wrote, “While DOJ and ATF have historically not supported removal of items from the NFA, the change in public acceptance of silencers arguably indicates that the reason for their inclusion in the NFA is archaic and historical reluctance to removing them from the NFA should be reevaluated.”
But Gillibrand is fighting to keep the archaic policies in place. The New York Daily News quotes her saying, “These deadly gun silencers pose a huge risk to our enforcement and our communities and I will do everything I can to stop this ill-thought-out legislation that would allow more criminals to get their hands on these dangerous weapons.”
Gillibrand refers to suppressors as “dangerous weapons,” but suppressors are not weapons at all. Rather, they are an accessory for a weapon, just as flash hiders, collapsible stocks, scopes, and lasers are accessories. The difference between suppressors and the other accessories is that suppressors protect hearing during shooting.
AWR Hawkins is the Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and host of Bullets with AWR Hawkins, a Breitbart News podcast. He is also the political analyst for Armed American Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.