Republican Offers Up "Common Sense" Gun Bill... But Will Democrats Step Up To Support It?

We’ve heard it over, and over, and over again.

All Democrats want, according to President Obama, Vice President Biden, and Democrat presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Martin O’Malley, is some “common sense” gun control. They swear that they aren’t coming for our guns.

Thanks to Republican Representative Matt Salmon of Arizona, they now have the perfect opportunity to prove that they’re being truthful.

A woman target shooting with a suppressed AR-15. [image via]
A woman target shooting with a suppressed AR-15 and muff-style hearing protection. [image via]
The single most common long-term shooting-related injury is temporary to permanent hearing loss. Even when purpose-built hearing protection is worn by shooters, the cumulative effect of shooting over many years is, quite literally, deafening.

I should know; though I use some of the most effective muff-style hearing protection in the industry, I often come back from a session testing ammunition, patterning a new shotgun, or running drills with a new rifle with a persistent ringing in my ears for hours afterward.

Rep. Salmon is well aware of the hearing loss affecting millions of Americans, and has introduced the Hearing Protection Act in the House of Representatives with the goal of making it easier for law abiding citizens to acquire suppressors for their firearms, without the onerous wait, crippling expense, and absurd legal hurdles currently associated with suppressor ownership.

The American Suppressor Association (ASA) just announced Salmon’s Hearing Protection Act (HPA) in a press release earlier today.

The American Suppressor Association (ASA) is pleased to announce the introduction of the Hearing Protection Act (HPA) by Rep. Matt Salmon (AZ-05). This historic piece of legislation will remove suppressors from the purview of the National Firearms Act (NFA), replacing the antiquated federal transfer process with an instantaneous NICS background check. The HPA also includes a provision to refund the $200 transfer tax to applicants who purchase a suppressor after October 22, 2015.

“The American Suppressor Association believes that citizens should not have to pay a tax to protect their hearing while exercising their Second Amendment rights,” said Knox Williams, President and Executive Director of the ASA. “The removal of suppressors from the National Firearms Act has been our ultimate goal since day one. For months, we have worked alongside Rep. Salmon’s office and the National Rifle Association to craft this legislation. Although we recognize that introducing this bill is the first step in what will be a lengthy process to change federal law, we look forward to working with Rep. Salmon and the NRA to advance and ultimately enact this common-sense legislation.”

Also known as silencers, suppressors are the hearing protection of the 21st century sportsman. 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. In addition to hearing protection, suppressors also mitigate noise complaints from those who live near shooting ranges and hunting lands.

Unfortunately, suppressors have been federally regulated since the passage of the National Firearms Act of 1934. The NFA regulates the transfer and possession of certain types of firearms and devices, including suppressors. Currently, prospective buyers must send in a Form 4 application to the ATF, pay a $200 transfer tax per suppressor, undergo the same background check that is required to purchase a machine gun, and wait months for the ATF to process and approve the paperwork. In stark contrast, many countries in Europe place no regulations on their purchase, possession, or use.

Rep. Salmon’s Hearing Protection Act will fix the flawed federal treatment of suppressors, making it easier for hunters and sportsmen to protect their hearing in the 41 states where private suppressor ownership is currently legal, and the 37 states where hunting with a suppressor is legal. This legislation will remove suppressors from the onerous requirements of the NFA, and instead require purchasers to pass an instant NICS check, the same background check that is used during the sale of long guns. In doing so, law-abiding citizens will remain free to purchase suppressors, while prohibited persons will continue to be barred from purchasing or possessing these accessories.

Despite the make-believe Hollywood treatment of suppressors as being the dead-silent weapon of assassins, suppressors do not make a firearm sounds like anything other than a firearm. Used in conjunction with quality hearing protection, suppressors can cut the sound of a typical gunshot in half, to hearing safe levels.

The NRA is firmly behind the legislation.

“Suppressors significantly reduce the chance of hearing loss for anyone who enjoys the shooting sports,” said Chris Cox, executive director of NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action. “On behalf of the NRA and our 5 million members, I want to thank Rep. Salmon for his leadership on this important bill.”
“Suppressors benefit all involved in hunting and the shooting sports. It’s time to bring the law in line with modern technology,” said Cox.
If leading Democrats really are interested in real, “common sense” firearms legislation instead of merely gutting the Second Amendment, they’ll quick signal their support for Rep. Salmon’s bill, and perhaps even introduce a companion Bill in the Senate to help the Hearing Protection Act become law as soon a s possible, perhaps even this year.
We eagerly await the response from President Obama and other leading Democrats on this important public health issue.