Reps. Duncan, “Judge” Carter commend ATF Chief Operating Officer’s White Paper on Suppressor regulation

Feb 9, 2017

On January 20, 2017, Associate Deputy Director and Chief Operating Officer for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosive (ATF), Ronald Turk released a white paper on the state of firearm regulation by the United States government. The paper, as reported by the Washington Post, makes recommendations to a variety of government gun regulations.  In the paper he detailed the unnecessary level of current “silencer” – also known as suppressor – regulation under the National Firearms Act. The expansion of lawful suppressor usage has grown to 42 states, where the growing acceptance of suppressors has created a significant backlog of silencer applications with a processing time upwards of eight months. Congressmen Jeff Duncan (SC-03) and John “Judge” Carter (TX-31), lead sponsors of the Hearing Protection Act, are looking to ease the regulatory burden and address the concerns detailed by ATF in the white paper.

Congressman Duncan, who is the co-chair of the largest bipartisan caucus on Capitol Hill, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus, commended the solutions based recommendations in the white paper. “This is a common sense approach to suppressor regulation in the United States,” he said. “There is no legitimate reason to prevent hunters and recreational shooters from access to a device that may help to ease the impact of muzzle noise from a firearm. A suppressor does not silence a firearm. It suppresses the sound by 30 to 35 decibels. Exposure to noise over 140 decibels can permanently damage hearing and some of the most popular firearms are well above this threshold. Suppressors on these sorts of weapons will reduce the noise to the level of a jackhammer. Hearing protection is a real issue for hunters and recreational shooters. With a suppressor, these Americans will have easier access to limit excessive noise exposure. This is a no brainer in my opinion.”

Congressman John “Judge” Carter said, “The ATF’s research underscores why the Hearing Protection Act is so important – suppressors clearly go a long way in protecting the hearing of Texas sportsmen and firearm owners across the nation.  This is common sense legislation that cuts back on burdensome, outdated regulations on an accessory that protects an individual’s hearing. Hollywood wants you to believe a suppressor makes a gun silent,  but in reality, a suppressor is able prevent an individual from suffering significant hearing damage, even though the sound is still comparable to a rock concert.”

The white paper details that ATF has on average over the past 10 years only recommended 44 defendants a year for prosecution on suppressor related violations. The paper goes on to say that suppressors “are very rarely used in criminal shootings.”

H.R. 367, the Hearing Protection Act, would reduce suppressor regulation under the National Firearms Act (NFA) by reclassifying a “silencer” under the Gun Control Act (GCA) where they would be treated as a firearm under the law. This reclassification would replace NFA requirements with a GCA standard National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) – the same legal obligations and prohibitions required when purchasing a standard firearm.

The Hearing Protection Act has been referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means as well as the House Judiciary Committee. Currently, the Hearing Protection Act is supported by 97 cosponsors in the House. The Senate companion bill, sponsored by Sen. Mike Crapo (ID), has seven cosponsors.

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