Two Republican senators have introduced legislation that would make suppressors for firearms—or silencers, as they’re more commonly known—more easily available to the American public. The bill would eliminate federal taxes on, and regulations of, suppressors.
“By properly classifying suppressors as a firearm accessory, our bill would allow sportsmen to have better access to hearing protection and preserve the hearing of sportsmen, gun owners, and those who live near shooting ranges,” Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, said in a press release.
Crapo introduced the bill, called the Silencers Helping Us Save Hearing Act, on Thursday with Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah.
Many Americans know about silencers only from what they see in the movies—a stealthy gun accessory that helps criminals more easily kill by suppressing the sound of the gunshot.
But “silencers,” Second Amendment advocates say, is a misleading way to describe these firearm accessories because they don’t actually silence the sound of a gunshot.
Instead, they argue, silencers should be more easily available because they protect against hearing damage. In short, proponents view silencers as a safety issue.
Current laws regulating suppressors date back to 1934. Suppressors require registration, a $200 tax on every transfer, and an eight- to 12-month waiting period.
Removing the tax and waiting period, gun advocates say, will make suppressors more widely available to people in the shooting sports industry who face hearing loss over the loud sound of gunshots.
“Suppressors can make shooting safer for the millions of hunters and sportsmen that exercise their constitutional right to use firearms every year,” Lee said in a prepared statement, adding:
The current process for obtaining a suppressor is far too expensive and burdensome. Our bill would remove these unnecessary federal regulations and make it easier for firearms users to protect themselves.
The Crapo-Lee legislation faces an uphill battle, with groups such as the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence arguing that making suppressors more widely available could facilitate crime.
“Lawmakers introduced this bill in the name of safety, yet continue to oppose Brady background checks for all gun sales,” a spokesperson for the Brady Campaign told The Daily Signal in February. “Instead of making it harder for dangerous people to get guns, Congress is trying to make it easier for everyone to get silencers.”
The Daily Signal’s feature series, “Underreported,” explored the regulation of suppressors. Watch the video above to learn more.