Hearing Protection Act: The Moral Dilemma with Silencers

Posted March 29, 2018

With much of the national narrative currently focused on the topic of gun-related legislation, Congress has introduced a bill that would remove restrictions on the use of suppressors (or silencers), treating them instead as firearms. This change would be the first such act since the National Firearms Act of 1934, which placed silencers under the same federal registration requirements as other “destructive devices,” including grenades and rocket launchers.

Silencers first hit the market in 1909, when Hiram Percy Maxim introduced the “Maxim Silencer.” He applied the same technology to mufflers and other machinery with loud gas emissions. The device was a popular hearing protection tool, and was even used by President Theodore Roosevelt on his on his 1894 Winchester lever-action rifle.

While the National Firearms Act of 1934 placed federal restrictions on silencers, ownership is still legal in most states if the owner complies with NFA and Gun Control Act requirements, with the exception of Hawaii, California, Illinois, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

The new Hearing Protection Act bill, introduced in January 2017 by U.S. Rep. Jeff Duncan of South Carolina with support from the American Suppressor Association (ASA), would, according to H.R.367, (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 transfer tax on a silencer after October 22, 2015, may receive a refund of such tax.

While responsible use of suppressors typically includes the purposes of safety training, reduction of noise pollution, and hearing protection, critics of the bill have shown concern that the device would make it more difficult to locate shooters in mass shooting tragedies.

Supporters of the bill say “suppressors are unfairly maligned and make it harder for hunters to hear their surroundings, potentially endangering them and others.”

When used with earplugs and earmuffs for hearing protection, suppressors can reduce the sound to about 100 decibels, or about that of an outboard boat motor.

The bill has yet to have passed through Congress as voting was suspended in June 2017 after House Majority Whip Steve Scalise was injured in a shooting during a congressional baseball practice. The bill remains in a House subcommittee.

To learn more about responsible gun ownership, speak to the knowledgeable professionals at Perry’s Gun Shop at 21 E 3rd Street, Wendell, North Carolina or visit us online at PerrysGunShop.com

Categories: Firearms Education