According to a news release, Representative Matt Salmon, Republican, Arizona, introduced on October 22 a bill to be known as the Hearing Protection Act, which would remove firearm suppressors from National Firearms Act oversight.
Currently suppressors are classified as NFA Class III “firearms”, just as are Short (under 18 inches) Barreled Rifles (SBR’s). This means to purchase a suppressor a potential buyer has to pass the same FBI background check as if he were buying a fully automatic machine gun, be fingerprinted and photographed, have a recommendation from the head of local law enforcement where he resides, pay a $200 Federal transfer tax, and normally go through around a 6 month waiting period for approval – and this is before purchasing the actual suppressor. Some of these requirements (fingerprints, background check, and LEO approval) can be waived if the suppressor is held in a properly executed Firearms Trust – which is another expense. Except for dealings with officers of the trust, suppressors can only be sold by dealers with a Class III license – and cannot even be passed on to the owners heirs without going through the same type of paperwork – and the same expense. The current permitting process would be replaced with an on-site NICS background check – probably the same one required now to purchase any firearm from a dealer. This would mean purchasing a suppressor would still be subject to a background check, so that persons prohibited from owning firearms would be excluded – just without the ridiculous wait time.
This bill would bring the US into a situation similar to most parts of Europe and some other countries, where suppressor use is actually encouraged, and the devices are much easier – and more economical – to obtain. Any shooter can benefit from the use of suppressors, from target shooters to hunters – if only for the fact that external, personal hearing protection is no longer needed for the shooter or anyone in close proximity.
Although it seems illogical, supposedly President Obama has said he supports this bill and intends to sign it if it crosses his desk. His reasoning, however, seems open to a bit of suspicion, as he says it would benefit inner city youths who ruin their hearing shooting without hearing protection, so they can better get jobs. Sounds like sarcasm to me. To this end, it seems he intends to attach a tag-along legislation to pour $400 million tax payer dollars into hearing protection programs directed at “Inner City Sportsmen”.
I have personally been on the verge of setting up a firearms trust for my current suppressor to protect my heirs, and this legislation would not only eliminate that need, but also encourage me in my desire to add a suppressor to my Ruger .22 LR semi-auto pistol. It would be a sad trade-off to have to see suppressors handed out like free government cell phones to certain groups to reach my goals, but I guess in the “new America”, we takes what we can gets!