New Legislation Introduced to Remove Silencers from NFA, Provide Clarity on “Armor Piercing Bullets”

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There are some big things going on in Washington, and right now it looks like there is some serious momentum behind a new push for pro-gun legislation. Two bills have surfaced in the last couple days that would significantly improve the lives of gun owners in the United States. The first would remove silencers from the National Firearms Act (making them available without a tax stamp and 6 month wait), and the second would streamline the process for ammunition companies to find out if the ATF thinks their lead free hunting rounds are actually evil “armor piercing” bullets. Both of these would be fantastic common sense gun laws, but there are some serious challenges ahead.

First, the silencer bill. From the American Suppressor Association:

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 key details here are that this bill would remove the registration and taxation requirements for silencers, but a background check would still be required to purchase them. This would bring the United States into line with most of the European nations (which Obama claims to want to emulate) which think of silencers as a safety device instead of an evil assassin’s tool. It’s a common sense step, but one that has an uphill battle since silencers still retain that Hollywood-imposed stigma.

The other legislation being introduced is a bill that would make it easier for ammunition manufacturers to find out if the ATF doesn’t like their projectiles.

U.S. Rep. Brian Babin (TX-36) today introduced the Alternative Ammunition Manufacturing Act (H.R. 3802) to ensure ammunition manufactures have the certainty they need to produce alternative types of ammo.  H.R. 3802, which is endorsed by the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), National Rifle Association (NRA), and Gun Owners of America (GOA), requires the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to issue a ruling within 60 days of receiving a waiver application, or else the application will be automatically granted.

Ever since the ATF started declaring more and more cartridges as “armor piercing” (seen by some as a backdoor attempt at gun control and increasing annoyance of gun owners) there’s been a concern that lead free hunting projectiles such as those required in the state of California will be similarly declared “armor piercing.” Keep in mind that the ATF’s definition of “armor piercing” doesn’t actually marry up with reality — they only care about the composition of the projectile, not whether it will penetrate a Level IIIa vest. Even standard “ball” lead ammunition will pierce “bullet proof” vests, but the ATF doesn’t care about actually improving safety. They just seem to want a mechanism to ban as much ammunition as possible.

The proposed legislation wouldn’t actually help much. All it does is require the ATF to tell a manufacturer if their projectile meets the arbitrary and capricious definition of “armor piercing” within a certain time period, and doesn’t really provide any assistance for those whose projectiles are deemed too terrible for public consumption. It’s an okay first step in a right direction, though.

The problem with both of these pieces of legislation is that their probability of passage is slim to none. President Obama has stated publicly that his biggest disappointment is that he was unable to introduce new gun control legislation in the United States. Given his statements on the topic it is highly unlikely that we will see him actually put pen to paper on either of these bills. What’s even more probable is that they will never see the light of the Oval Office in the first place. We’ve seen through the Democratic primary debates that the Democratic party sees the NRA as “the enemy,” and since guns are their new hot button issue I’m anticipating that every (D) within the legislature will jump all over these bills and make every effort to stop them.

That’s the real shame. These are actual “common sense” bills that everyone could get behind — if they understood the reality of the situation instead of relying solely on their biases and party rhetoric. But the probability of the Democrats getting over their hatred of the NRA is as likely as Hillary Clinton becoming a regular TTAG contributor.

comments

  1. avatar TX Gun Gal says:

    Snowball’s chance in Hell

    1. avatar Mark says:

      Literally that was my exact first thought!

      1. avatar NineShooter says:

        That’s okay. Make the anti-gun folks vote on-record against the stuff. Then it’s easier to see who’s really with us, and who’s not.

        This “We might as well not even try” attitude is preventing us from getting the hard data that we need to make future informed decisions. Make ’em vote it down. Make ’em vote again to support the veto. Don’t mix anything else with the bill that might muddy the waters.

    2. avatar What The Heck Is That says:

      It’ll likely sail through the House, pass the Senate with some trouble. Then Obama will veto it.

      The only way I could see Obama signing these bills if they included provisions for nationwide universal background checks (elimination of all private firearm sales), a nationwide gun registry, nationwide magazine capacity restrictions, an assault weapons ban or any combination thereof. He’ll only sign it, in other words, if the bill will do more harm to our rights than good.

  2. avatar Ralph says:

    The federal government is a lunatic asylum run by the clinically insane, so this proposal is gong nowhere.

  3. avatar fishydude says:

    Suppressors would still be illegal in many states regardless this change because liberals are stupid.

    1. avatar Jeremy S says:

      Well they’re already legal in 41 states. If they were dropped from the NFA it would be easier to make progress on the other 9. …and even with the stigma and the NFA the number of states allowing them has changed a lot in the last decade (for the better). In WA here, everything NFA was banned and just in the last three years that was changed to allow silencers and then SBRs. And the legislature and governor are heavily D, too, and the state has voted D for pres every election since the ’88 one…

      1. avatar Lost Down South says:

        So IF…IF they fall off the NFA…will they become more affordable?

        Can’t afford them currently, even w/o the $200 tax.

        1. avatar William says:

          If they become regulated like a standard firearm you could manufacture your own for personal use without any penalty.

        2. avatar Rambeast says:

          At first, you will see a huge spike in prices as everyone and their brother scrambles to get a suppressor or 10. After that dies down, you will see more and more companies get into the game, and the price will drop to a reasonable range thanks to good ol’ supply and demand.

        3. avatar Sian says:

          With the $200 tax in place, people tended towards high-end, user-serviceable cans that would last a lifetime of use, for obvious reasons.

          Without the tax, and without the 3-8 month wait for permission, cheap, consumable cans will be viable. A $40 sealed .22LR suppressor that you can just dispose of after it’s full of lead. $100 ‘kits’ that let you assemble your own suppressor at home. The market would open up in a huge way.

        4. avatar Wee Liam says:

          Here’s how it’s supposed to work in a “free market” (yeah, YEAH, RIGHT!) economy: restrictions lifted = increased demand = more suppressor manufactured = falling prices.

          SUPPOSED TO.

        5. avatar B says:

          They’re like $100 in New Zealand. Without the giant paper anchor and potentially year long accounts payable these things should drop in price after the initial rush.

      2. avatar irock350 says:

        If you removed silencers from the NFA regisetery, then you would create a defacto ban on purchasing unregistered silencers in Texas. In Texas the law states that NFA item has to be registered for it to be legal, changing the federal law would require many states to change their state laws to match. The other dirty secret is that NFA items are not protected by the Second Amendment which means that States could enact a ban on all NFA items which could not be overturned by the courts. It would be great to be able to buy a silencer without having to pay the tax stamp, but the states would still be able to enact their own version of the NFA registery.

        1. avatar B says:

          If silencers were removed from the NFA, they wouldn’t be NFA items. Hence state laws referring to NFA items wouldn’t apply to silencers. State laws requiring silencers to be registered with the state would be another matter, unless the silencers being removed from the NFA removes the basis for the state law. But I’m taking words at what they mean, not making whole new meanings based on what black trench coated tyrants want them the law to say.

        2. avatar Alex says:

          The point is that they wouldn’t *be* NFA items anymore, I believe. Am I reading the bill wrong here? Because you do raise an important point that needs clarification.

          There is a difference between suppressors no longer being NFA items (no *registration*, tax stamp, or approval process), and them still being NFA items but now just a NICS check is required and no tax stamp (but still *registered*).

      3. avatar Ben says:

        I agree. I’m so tired of hearing this negative nonsense from gun owners “oh that will never ever pass, blah” and so they wont fight for it. I’m just glad we have groups like the GOA that fight anyway even if its an “obvious” lost cause (and then they win). Lets take a moment to look at this “impossible” situation why don’t we? In the past decade or so we have made it legal in nearly every state to carry a concealed weapon. More and more states are making it legal to hunt with suppressors, and more and more states are making it legal to own all sorts of NFA items. Even with the obnoxious NFA requirements people are hoovering up suppressors as fast as they can be made and the ATF can issue stamps. 10 years ago when I got my first suppressor nearly everyone was stunned that you could even buy such a thing. Now days my tiny local gunshop has a cabinet dedicated to suppressors and its rare I talk to a gun owner who doesn’t know its legal to own one and a growing majority have at least handled and fired one and quite a few now own them.

        10 Years ago the same people now saying its a waste of time and will never happen were saying the same thing about everything I just covered. We own congress and the senate. Lets make use of it instead of whining that it will never work.

    2. avatar Jack Griffin says:

      Eh, If you bust it open at the top level, the local level is easier to erode on a case-by-case.

      The local level was always going to be a crapshoot anyway. People’s Republics abound.

      1. avatar Juanito ''Johnnie'' Ibañez says:

        Stateswise: it would be difficult to disallow ‘suppressors’ (“silencers”) reducing “noise pollution” from firearms, while at the very same time requiring ‘suppressors’ (mufflers) on every automobile on their city streets and highways.

        Ask your state legislators to _explain_ that bit of “logic.”

        1. avatar Matt says:

          Especially when you consider how many shooting ranges get noise complaints or are stuck to operating within certain hours to be good neighbors. That makes it even more difficult on a local level.

  4. avatar Hillary Clinton says:

    As a first time poster here, I just wanted to say I support the Second Amendment, but we need to have a conversation about common sense gun laws, like they have in Libya.

    1. avatar Adub says:

      Yeah, but that last gun buy back didn’t go so well, did it?

    2. avatar Joe R. says:

      yay

      Mortars and RPGs for everyone

    3. avatar Wee Liam says:

      I’m sorry I missed that surface-to-air missile buyback.

    4. avatar Geoff PR says:

      “As a first time poster here,”

      Hillary, you’ve been under a lot of… How shall I say…

      Stress recently. Yes…

      I happen to know a single guy who would be happy to help relieve your stress.

      Like you, he’s a lawyer, (and face it, your’e gonna be needing a lawyer boy-toy soon), he loves cats and lives in Mass…

      Ralph, I’d like to introduce you to Hillary… Quite a delightful.. er, … ‘lady’, don’t you think?

      Give her a night of pleasure so she’ll stop riding our collective asses for the next 5 years, O.K.?

      🙂

    5. avatar DAN V says:

      America wants to know: did you post that from a personally-owned device or from a gov’t-issued one?

  5. avatar Nate says:

    All my “representatives” (and I use that term facetiously) are Dems that vote no less than 95% with their own party and have a very unfavorable approval percentage. I sent them all letters asking for their support. They vote against it, we vote against them.

  6. avatar vv ind says:

    Its a step in the right direction and to show my support and approval NRA just got two new Junior members in the form of my 2 children

  7. avatar BDub says:

    I am convinced these bills are simply goodwill vote-getting on the part of the GOP. They know they can get behind them and win kudos from their base, but don’t have to worry about having them used against their rep later, as they will never pass.

    1. avatar Joe R. says:

      Hopefully it will put everyone on-record. No voting “present” because they didn’t have time to ‘adequately review the legislation prior to the vote’, when they gave us Obamascare without reading it.

  8. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

    While the legislation has no chance of becoming a law whilst we have a third world grifter as POTUS, it has value.

    Sometimes, ideas have to be put up for a vote several times. Look at how the legalization of dope has proceeded. It took many attempts over the last 20 years. Finally, by the time it got to a ballot issue in some states, the populace no longer saw it as a whacky idea.

    This is the first step in shifting the Overton Window on NFA policy.

    1. avatar Mitch says:

      Agreed.

    2. avatar Jeremy S says:

      I wouldn’t be surprised if it passed through congress. Whether it could survive an Obama veto or not seems much less likely. But now that I’ve seen silencers and then SBRs become legal in Washington State, which is more Dem-controlled than congress and has a Dem governor, I wouldn’t rule this out so quickly on a national level. I’m sure they’ll end up tacking some sort of special excise tax on them to make the bill more palatable to the gun-agnostic Dems in congress…

      1. avatar Juanito ''Johnnie'' Ibañez says:

        The thing to do here is use the old Democrat tactic of adding it as an amendment to one of their “pet bills”, assuring its passage to get what they want.

        1. avatar Geoff PR says:

          ^^^ Right There…

      2. avatar LKB says:

        My modest proposal — the bill could:

        1. Drop suppressors from the NFA, but put a 10% excise tax on them. CBO scoring should indicate that this will result in a net revenue increase (due to the greatly increased number of suppressors sold and the reduced cost of dealing with processing suppressor tax stamps at the BATFE). [I don’t like any kind of tax increase, but this is in order to facilitate #2.]
        2. Attach this to a spending bill (preferably a “must-pass” one). It can thus get through the Senate under reconciliation, so no 60-votes threshold needed. More importantly, because is it revenue-neutral or revenue-positive it won’t have a 10-year automatic sunset (a-la Bush tax cuts).
        3. See if The Annointed One (TM) is willing to veto an omnibus spending bill and shut the government down over this. (I’ll bet he will not.)
        4. If it passes and becomes law, *then* start moving to cut or eliminate the 10% excise tax in a future budget bill. (Tax cuts are always easier to pass.)

        Is is perfect? Of course not.

        Does it provide a path to start rolling back the NFA that might actually have a chance of happening? Yup.

        1. avatar Sian says:

          He enthusiastically and publically (with a press conference) vetoed the NDAA which was considered ‘must pass’, I have no expectations that he won’t set the entire country on fire if he has to in order to not sign such a common sense bill as the loosening of silencer regulation.

      3. avatar What The Heck Is That says:

        There is zero question that Obama will veto these bills. They’ll get through Congress just fine, that’s not the issue. They don’t stand a snowball’s chance in Hell of getting past the President’s famous pen.

  9. avatar Spectre_USA says:

    It is refreshing to see the term common sense used in the correct manner,
    and not as a stupid, moonbat buzzword.

    I’d snap up a few suppressors on the day this passes, as I am sure the prices
    would spike shortly there after.

    Tough row to hoe, but I sure hope so!

    1. avatar Stinkeye says:

      If it looks like this has a chance to pass, expect the prices to spike well before the law goes into effect…

      1. avatar Wee Liam says:

        Then like me, you wait for prices to fall. Or not.

      2. avatar Geoff PR says:

        Not for long.

        Machine shops can knock out thread adapters real fast and real cheap while oil filters are *everywhere*…

        People can have a perfectly serviceable suppressor for 30 bucks or less.

    2. avatar LKB says:

      While there might be a very short term spike in prices, prices would drop dramatically very quickly. Suppressors are fairly simple devices to manufacture (indeed, they can outsource production of the various components), and thus it would not be difficult for manufacturers to ramp up production very quickly to meet demand.

      Additionally, I’d suspect you’d also see lots of integrally-suppressed weapons hitting the market. E.g., an AR upper with something like the Sig can pinned to a 10″ barrel (so no SBR tax stamp needed), if priced at below $1000 and available on a cash and carry basis, would sell like hotcakes.

  10. avatar JFRAME says:

    After watching the Hillary Clown Show last night. We have no chance. No mufflers for you! The Queen has spoken.

  11. avatar ShaunL. says:

    “(ATF) to issue a ruling within 60 days of receiving a waiver application, or else the application will be automatically granted.”

    Only then to be arbitrarily un-granted on a whim at anytime by the ATF thereby making anyone who possesses them a criminal with the stroke of a pen.

  12. avatar Leef says:

    If that bill did pass to delist suppressors from the NFA but still require a back ground check, would they be considered title one firearms and falls under the GTA of 1968 in which individuals can manufacture guns for personal use and does not require a serial number?

    They should only be thought of as a common accessory such as a light, sling, or scope and require no further scrutiny like a 4473 IMO. Putting a scope on a rifle doesn’t make it more lethal on instantly turn you into a nefarious sniper, capable of killing hundreds of yards away just like wanting to preserve your hearing and have consideration for your neighbors in keeping the noise pollution down doesn’t turn you into an assassin once on has possession of a “can”.

  13. avatar Andrew Lias says:

    Hillary’s contributions on TTAG would be stuff like “what firearms features should I try to get banned?” or “Black rifles I love to hate” or perhaps “for cryingout loud, shut up and drink the kool-aid.”

  14. avatar Sinosparo says:

    I prefer to call AP style ammo in the civilian world as either “deep penetration” or “penetrator core” rounds; useful against encountering hostile wildlife in a higher weight category than the weapon you have. Having a magazine full of these rounds when out varmint hunting could very well save you from a bear or moose attack.

  15. avatar Joe R. says:

    “and 6 month wait . . .”

    That’s 6 mos. per year. The rest of the year you just mentally give-up and lay in a fetal position with a stuffed animal.

  16. avatar Grindstone says:

    Push the hearing safety issue relentlessly and we may get eventual progress.

    1. avatar Hank says:

      If the police unions would just petition OSHA…

  17. avatar lowell says:

    I don’t get it, when you have no chance of winning, why try to be reasonable and conciliatory? GO big or go home. None of this is gonna pass, so these bills shouldn’t be to reclassify one item to a different but still somewhat restricted classification, it should be a full blown repeal of the NFA34 and GCA68. AND the announcement of a program to surplus the military’s extra machine guns, and artillery pieces on the American civilian market. Give the gun grabbers a heart attack.

    Be a dick to them just for the satisfaction of being a dick to them.

  18. avatar dragos111 says:

    The problem is still the fact that the Lefties and the Gun Grabbers still believe that “silencers” actually make the guns go “pffft, pffft” when shot. After all, Hollywood guns are virtually silent when fired with a silencer. They have no clue what the noise suppression device would actually do.

    1. avatar Rambeast says:

      When firing my G17 through an Osprey .45 suppressor with my 147gr handloads, it does have the Hollywood “pft” sound…if you ignore the sound of the slide racking. My Walther .22 with a Tac65 can is much quieter, even with HV .22s.

      You would be amazed what the right ammo and rig can do.

    2. avatar lowell says:

      The REAL problem is that Hollywood ALMOST has it right, on certain firearm ammo combos. The whole point of .300BLK was to make a Hollywood-quiet AR15 that still had punch. .300blk and .45ACP both start with subsonic projectiles so they both do this. The way around is through, take it head on, apologize for nothing, and own it all. Make them say thank you for quieting down your gun so that they wouldn’t have to listen to it. Double thank-you for Hollywood quiet because normal rounds suppressed are still louder than a rock concert, but subsonics put out no real noise pollution.

      So no matter how quiet you can is, OWN IT, and then tell them “You’re Welcome.”

  19. avatar Trevor says:

    If we could convince the lefties, that silencers prevent carbon from going into the atmosphere and therefore help with preventing “climate change”. They would probably get behind them.

    1. avatar Rambeast says:

      Start calling them Catalytic Converters. 😉 That’ll get ’em.

  20. avatar Cuteandfuzzybunniess says:

    They should ad a fix to the SBR rule
    So a pistol may never legally be an SBR. It should be determined by serial number at first sale. And cutting down a rifle would still be illegal, as the law was intended. Putting a stock on a handgun and among it larger would NOT be a crime anymore.

    1. avatar Jon in CO says:

      I would think removing sbr/sbs parts would be the easiest route to go. You already have pistols that are essentially an sbr, minus the stock. The addition of a stock should not constitute a felony charge.

  21. avatar Max says:

    In VA, the State Police once asked if the legislature would do away with the state-level requirement for suppressors, as it was costing the police $2 million a year and there had not been a crime ever committed with a legal one in the Commonwealth since the requirement was enacted.

    The legislature said no.

    There is a clear incentive to do away with this beyond the “but what about the children?”-type argument and counterarguments.

    I think whoever is going to champion this bill should bring an some cymbals to the floor and, every 10 second, crash them together… and when someone asks what they are doing, just say that “These cymbals are quieter than most suppressed weapons”.

  22. avatar Glenux says:

    If they were taken off the NFA list then it would be legal to make your own.
    Would the Suppressor manufactures support such a bill?

    1. avatar Jon in CO says:

      People build their own AR’s all the time. It doesn’t stop the companies from pumping out full rifles, so I wouldn’t imagine it would do much. Most people don’t have easy access to machines for milling out 17-4 stainless or Inconel. Those materials aren’t normally found on Walmart or Home Depot shelves.

    2. avatar Red In Texas says:

      Hell, a decent lathe will set you back 3k easily, and that doesn’t include the tools. Then there is the cost of materials, and the knowledge needed to fabricate it. I don’t think “legalizing” them will hurt mfgs.

  23. avatar Joseph Yanos says:

    Can I sell my tax stamp as a “Collectors” item?

    1. avatar SteveInCO says:

      I saw one exhibited as a collectible once, complete with all the paperwork (but the gun was not part of the display).

  24. avatar Marc says:

    No one has mentioned the fact that the government isn’t going to give up the $200 per can registration fee. $200 doesn’t seem like a lot of money, but multiply it by the amount of cans being purchased per month/year.

  25. I have the right to protect myself and if you don’t like it tough $hit.
    The 2nd Amendment was put into the Constitution so the people could protect themselves from a corrupt government. No double standards put DC politicians on Obamacare and SS.Thanks for your support and vote.Pass the word. mrpresident2016.com

  26. avatar Silver says:

    The government giving up a tax while simultaneously loosening freedom rather than restricting it? Not in modern America, my friend.

  27. avatar Dan Goodshot says:

    Great article… till the end. Judging by the tone at the end of the article I gather we’re supposed to just roll over and give up. That’s kind of the overall tone that I got anyway. Its also the tone of most the comments on here. That’s the exact reason why we lose so many of our rights. It seems that too many “pro gun/pro freedom” individuals say, “oh it’s too hard.” or “oh well, we won’t get that” or “we’re going to lose that” or, my favorite, ” why bother, we wont win”. Pathetic! Instead of acting like a buch of push overs, why don’t we actually get off our asses, off of our keyboards and fight for what is right. Let’s take a page and tear it right out of the liberal playbook. call the legislators, call our politicians. Annoy them to death. protest! Do whatever it is we have to do to get the attention. educate people every chance you get! Be pushy about it! That’s what the Liberals do and look how good it works for them. So instead of saying, “snowball’s chance in hell of that going through”. How about we stand up and we push it through. But, if you come out with an attitude like what I’m getting in this article, there isn’t a snowball’s chance in hell of it going through. I don’t know about the rest of you but I, for one am tired of watching my rights and my country getting shoved in the toilet. not

  28. avatar Dave says:

    Any update on this law or something similar getting through?

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