On Thursday, House Republicans introduced a bill which would completely eliminate the federal tax on gun silencers and would also greatly weaken licensing requirements that make the devices more difficult to buy than most firearms.
Why did they feel the need to do this? To protect the hearing of gun owners, they say.
The Hearing Protection Act of 2015, which was proposed by GOP Representative Matt Salmon of Arizona, would remove silencers– also known as suppressors–from the National Firearms Act (NFA), instead putting them in the same regulatory category as long guns.
The NFA was passed in the days of Prohibition to combat the extreme violence of bootleggers and gangsters. The devices were included on a list of NFA weaponry and other hardware, alongside firearms like machine guns and short-barreled–sawed-off– shotguns. Currently, anyone who buys a silencer must first pay a $200 fee, which covers an extensive FBI background check that can take months to complete.
Salmon’s bill would make it as easy to obtain a silencer as it is to get any other gun from a Federal Firearms License holder. The $200 fee would be eliminated, and anyone who paid the fee between Oct. 22 and the law’s actual enactment would get a full refund.
The American Suppressor Association said in a statement that the legislation is needed to protect people’s hearing:
“Despite common Hollywood-based misconceptions, the laws of physics dictate that no suppressor will ever be able to render gunfire silent. Suppressors are simply mufflers for firearms, which function by trapping the expanding gasses at the muzzle, allowing them to slowly cool in a controlled environment. On average, suppressors reduce the noise of a gunshot by 20-35 decibels (dB), roughly the same sound reduction as earplugs or earmuffs.”
But Ladd Everett, director of communications for the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, countered that argument by saying:
“The NRA and gun industry view accessories like silencers as potential profit areas, with guns themselves so well-saturated throughout their existing customer base. That’s why we’ve seen this multi-state effort to weaken laws in this area, the obvious consequences for safety be damned. It’s about profit, nothing else.”
Wouldn’t it just be easier and make more sense to simply encourage gun owners to always use earplugs or other equipment when they fire their weapons? Sure it would, but that wouldn’t be the sloppy, wet kiss the GOP wants to give to the National Rifle Association (NRA) with an election just around the corner.
This article was originally published by the same author at LiberalAmerica.org