Hearing Protection Act – What you should know
The Hearing Protection Act and Silencers / Suppressors are used in the same sentence and regardless of your opinion of the matter, suppressors have a bad rep. Some call them “silencers,” when in reality all it does is suppress the noise decibel. Some may be quieter or louder than others depending on the make, model, size, caliber, and type of ammunition used. Whatever way you slice it, some form of noise is produced once that hammer strikes the primer of your round. There is virtually no way to make a firearm 100 percent silent. Unfortunately, due to sheer ignorance and a lack of information, many non-firearm friendly individuals insist that these items can easily be used by criminals. Due to that, all suppressors are considered a NFA (National Firearms Act) item and owners are required to purchase and be approved for what’s known as a “Tax Stamp” prior to personal ownership of said item.
The National Firearm Act was made official in 1934 as an attempt to curb firearm violence with the gangs and mafia of the timeframe. Basically, any rifle or shotgun that was shorter than 18,” niche weapons that were considered “Any Other Weapon (AOW), machine guns, and suppressors were all under scrutiny by the NFA. To own any of these items that fall under the NFA, the potential owner must apply and be approved for what’s called a “Tax Stamp.” These stamps are $200 each (which hasn’t changed since 1934), must be bought per NFA item, and currently in 2019 have on average a 12-month turnaround time. In laymen terms, you dump a big chunk of cash, submit paperwork, wait, wait, wait some more, hopefully get approved, and then have to pay for the cost of the actual suppressor. This process has to be repeated every time for any additional suppressor, AOW, or short barreled rifle/shotgun.
Now the notion behind the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives is that it would somehow curb gun violence. As an example of how absurd this is, go back to any number of active shooter/gun violence event and see how many were committed with a legally possessed suppressor. The answer is not one. No individual that has gone through the long arduous process to own one, will then throw it all down the drain. If someone does use one in illegal activity, it was more than likely homemade. Never doubt human ingenuity. So, in comes the Hearing Protection Act, a law that could change all of this for the better.
The HPA was originally released to the world by Rep. Matt Salmon (R-AZ-05) in 2015. For four years now, it has consistently been vetoed yet reintroduced to hopefully be passed one day. This bill would in theory allow suppressors to be removed from the NFA list and be treated as a traditional firearm. That would mean no more $200 Tax Stamp or wait time. You could just walk into your local FFL and purchase a suppressor in the same fashion as you would any other firearm on the counter. In the next installment, we’ll look at how this can affect you as the end user.
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