By Anne Vinnola
Legislation was introduced this week by Arizona Republican Matt Salmon, to allow for instant background checks for silencers. This would replace the current outdated federal transfer process.
As the cumbersome and frustrating law stands now, a purchaser is required to first buy the silencer (suppressor), leave it with the retailer, apply for a $200 tax stamp, then wait for months to have the retailer receive the stamp. After the retailer receives the tax stamp, the purchaser has to go through a regular firearm background check. Then, upon approval of that background check, is finally able to take the silencer home. The entire process is exceedingly long, leaving the buyer to wait months just to receive the product he or she already paid for.
Silencer purchases are steadily rising as people see the benefits to shooting and hunting with them. While it’s impossible to completely silence the discharge of a gun, silencers lower the decibels to safer levels. The Hollywood stigma of “bad guys” only having silencers is rapidly being replaced by the understanding that hunting and range shooting is a much more enjoyable experience with a silencer.
According to the latest figures from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the number of registered silencers rose 38% last year… from 571,750 to 792,282 licenses in March 2014.
Rep. Salmon’s Hearing Protection Act (H.R. 3799) will hopefully lessen the federal government’s suppressor stigma, and create an environment to make it easier for sportsmen to protect their hearing. This legislation will remove suppressors from the burdensome requirements of the National Firearms Act (NFA), and allow silencer purchases to be conducted through the normal National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). With this legislation, law-abiding gun owners will still be free to purchase suppressors, while prohibited persons will continue to be barred from purchasing or possessing them, as with any other firearm.
The measure would also repeal the $200 tax and, if passed, a refund will be issued to anyone who pays it while the legislation is being debated.
The NRA-ILA is in support of The Hearing Protection Act and will undoubtedly assist in the efforts to pass the legislation, with the support of their members.
“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. “On behalf of the NRA and our 5 million members, I want to thank Rep. Salmon for his leadership on this important bill.”
Magnum Shooting Center will be keeping an eye on this legislation, and invite you to contact your legislators to let them know your views about the Hearing Protection Act.