It was announced on June 16, 2021 that S. 2050: The Hearing Protection Act has been reintroduced. S 2050 aims “to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to remove silencers from the definition of firearms, and for other purposes.” The bill is sponsored by Idaho Senator Mike Crapo and co-sponsors include Senators Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Kevin Cramer (R-North Dakota), Jerry Moran (R-Kansas), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Roger Marshall (R-Kansas), John Boozman (R-Arkansas), Shelley Moore Capito (R-West Virginia), Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas), James Lankford (R-Oklahoma), Mike Braun (R-Indiana), Tim Scott (R-South Carolina), Jim Inhofe (R-Oklahoma) and Thom Tillis (R-North Carolina).
The SUSH Act, which the introduction of was reported on earlier this year, is reminiscent of the The Hearing Protection Act (HPA) read on the floor last session, however they do differ. The SUSH Act, in contrast of the HPA, removes the ability for localities and states to regulate suppressors, noting the federal standard will have preemption.
What will the act do? From a press release:
Reclassify suppressors to regulate them like traditional firearms;
Remove suppressors from regulation under the NFA;
Replace the overly-burdensome federal transfer process with an instantaneous National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) background check, making the purchasing and transfer process for suppressors equal to the process for a rifle or shotgun; and
Tax suppressors under the Pittman-Robertson Act instead of the NFA, putting more funding into state wildlife conservation agencies.
As outlined above, the release does point out:
The HPA would not change any laws in states that already prevent suppressors, nor does it get rid of the requirement for a background check.
Any measures to remove these burdens from the lives of responsible gun owners in the United States needs to be applauded and advocated for. If I had to choose SUSH over HPA, I might lean towards SUSH, but none-the-less the HPA would be leaps and bounds for those in favor of freedom. The HPA press release also states some of the important science that gets overlooked by the anti-freedom caucus:
On average, suppressors diminish the noise of a gunshot by 20-35 decibels, roughly the same sound reduction provided by earplugs or earmuffs. By further comparison, the most effective suppressors on the market can only reduce the peak sound level of a gunshot to around 110-120 decibels. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, that is as loud as a jackhammer (110 dB) or an ambulance siren (120 dB). Currently regulated under the National Firearms Act (NFA), suppressors are subject to additional regulatory burdens.
“Follow the science” is a term that’s been tossed around for the last year and a half probably thousands of time. Well, it’s time that our congresscritters follow the science when it comes to protecting the hearing of the citizenry. The HPA is not only a matter of “science”, it’s also just good manners. Previously when covering the SUSH Act the following was brought up:
Believe it or not, the UK actually does a better job of regulating suppressors than the United States, as a 2014 American Rifleman article pointed out:
The reason UK shooters are so keen on moderators really boils down to common sense and courtesy…Even with the small calibers, UK shooters are quite concerned about controlling noise, and thus their reliance on suppressors. Plenty of rural country remains, but most is home to small farms and scattered residences so that shooting and hunting necessarily occur within earshot of others. Brit riflemen want to be neighborly, and that consideration may prove important in preserving the rights they still have.
Tally-ho! It’s frankly civilized to use suppressors.
In a subsequent release, many co-sponsors and proponents of this bill sounded off. The comments are all worth a read, however this succinct quote best sums up the importance of the bill:
“Making it easier to protect hunters’ and shooting sportsmen’s hearing is a commonsense course of action. These law-abiding citizens want to use their firearms in as safe and enjoyable a way as possible, and I’m proud to join my colleagues to help cut red tape and increase their access to suppressors.” – U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-Arkansas)
If progressives find the SUSH Act to be too “aggressive” perhaps they can get behind the HPA? As Boozman pointed out in his statement, this is just “commonsense”. How’s that for a match made in heaven? Common sense and following the science?
Much like many of the other bills that have been introduced in this session of congress which aim to lift unconstitutional provisions from our laws, I don’t see the HPA passing both chambers. Should the HPA get the approval of lawmakers and make it’s way to Biden’s desk, I’m doubtful the right sticks and strings will be moved to draw his signature on the page. We’ll be monitoring the progress of all the firearm related bills in congress, perhaps with a hopeful eye that this measure will gain appreciable traction.