Legal, responsible gun owners may soon be able to justify the cost of owning silencers. H.R.3799, The Hearing Protection Act is currently in committee in the House of Representatives and the Senate.
Silencers have always been legal to own in the United States. The problem is that they have had to be licensed individually by the ATF. Each permit required a lengthy application process and a $200 fee. This drove the price of the silencers up as well. All of which put silencers out of the budget range of most gun owners.
Contrary to what T.V. and the movies have depicted over the years, a silencer does not make a gun silent. Perhaps a muffler would be a more accurate term. Similar in design and function to a car’s exhaust muffler, silencers can significantly reduce the volume. They do not eliminate it.
Experts agree that exposure to noise greater than 140 dB can permanently damage hearing. This damage can range from dulling the hearing, ringing in the ears, to total hearing loss. Worst of all, this damage is cumulative. Almost all firearms create noise that is over the 140-dB level. Even one trip to the shooting range unprotected can cause permanent hearing damage or loss to the shooter, and anyone else nearby. The hearing protection a silencer affords would not be just for the target shooters. The noise reduction would also benefit hunters, employees of gun ranges, as well as anyone that lives near a range. Personally, I believe the biggest benefit would befall our law enforcement officers. These fine men and women are required to practice and qualify with their weapons for years, on a regular basis. Even with the precautions and safety practices they follow, hearing damage is a real concern. Not to mention a substantial cost to law enforcement agencies, for safety equipment, medical expenses, and unnecessarily putting our officers at risk.
We enforce many noise regulations on industry, we put mufflers on our cars, we have limits for concerts and the local movie theater. We understand the inconvenience and danger of noise in our cities and towns. The EPA maintains sound levels for our homes and work. Why on earth would we not allow shooters to voluntarily reduce their noise levels? Rather than being in the same class as fully automatic weapons and cannons, I would think a silencer should be mandatory.
I know, I can hear it now. Making silencers more available will turn everyone in to assassins. Really? Assassins already have access. You won’t typically find any of them using them, They know how a silencer works. They know Hollywood is fantasy. The sound of a silenced gun is considerably louder than a click and a puff of air. You still know a gun went off, it’s just not deafening,
Hearing Protection Act of 2015 – HR3799
This bill amends the Internal Revenue Code to: (1) eliminate the $200 transfer tax on firearm silencers, and (2) treat any person who acquires or possesses a firearm silencer as meeting any registration or licensing requirements of the National Firearms Act with respect to such silencer. Any person who pays a tax on a silencer after October 22, 2015 may receive a refund of such tax.
The bill amends the federal criminal code to preempt state or local laws that tax or regulate firearm silencers.
While this bill is well supported, Congress needs to know that we support this bill. I urge you to contact your Senator and Representative and tell them to cosponsor and support HR3799.