Hearing Protection Act’s Not A Done Deal: SilencerCo CEO Josh Waldron

Josh Waldron (above) is the CEO of SilencerCo. As you’d expect, Mr. Waldron was instrumental in getting the Hearing Protection Act (HPA) introduced into Congress. Speaking with TTAG, the founder of the American Suppressor Association says the Act isn’t a done deal.

The HPA is a very important piece of legislation. It would really change the industry. It would do a lot for our company. We have to focus on getting the momentum, getting it through committee. We have to get 60 votes in the Senate. We have to really activate the grass roots, we have to get the letters in. We have a lot to do.

At the end of the day, we’re not going to make it into the President’s first 100-day agenda. We’re probably not going to make it in the first six months. But I don’t want people to lose hope. I think it’s going to happen, but it’s going to take a lot of heavy lifting, and we really need people’s support.

Earlier this week, the NRA’s shootingillustrated.com looked at the odds of the HPA making it to the President’s desk:

The House version has been referred to the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations. Ten Republicans and 7 Democrats make up the current membership, though, it’s particularly good news when coupled with the number of sponsors and the fact the entire voting body of the House has 435 members with 240 of them Republican.

The Senate side, on the other hand, is where firearm owners are getting mixed signals about the certainty of the Hearing Protection Act passage. If enough senators decide more debate is due, they can filibuster and the only way to bring the measure to a vote is called cloture. That requires 60 of the 100 members to vote in favor of legislation being considered—not a simple 51 vote majority if anti-Second Amendment legislators mount the defense.

And if you think that’s a heavy lift, imagine the “debate” over national concealed carry reciprocity . . .

©2017 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.

comments

  1. avatar Marco says:

    Reconciliation or as an add-on to a must-pass budget bill… say, something to do with medicaid funding.

    Next question?

    1. avatar DDay says:

      You can’t just tack it on a reconciliation bill, it doesn’t work that way. It will need 60 which I think is doable.

      1. avatar Darkstar says:

        I wish I were so optomistic. I have a hard time seeing 60 votes on this. I think even some “Republicans” will vote nay on this. You know, for the children. I hope I’m wrong though.

        1. avatar LarryinTX says:

          If Republicans vote “nay”, we need to see their names, not just let them do it in secret. I need to know where to send money for primaries, and even to Democrats. Such “Republicans” need to be defeated.

        2. avatar Norincojay says:

          There are democrat and independent senators that are in gun friendly states. An example is Bernie Sanders that has a mixed record on gun rights. His state of Vermont is very 2nd friendly and has a good deal of rural areas and hunters that he answers too. I lived there in the late 90’s Stowe has some great skiing! Definitely a lot of libs, but lots of gun friendly people too.

        3. avatar Stephen C. Gregory says:

          It’s for the children and grandchildren that I asked for my congressman’s and senators’ support. Use of suppressors while shooting my firearms will keep them from getting as deaf as I am. That’s exactly what I put into my letters to them

      2. avatar Marco says:

        1.Reconciliation is shorthand for BUDGET reconciliation.
        2.Reconciliation only takes 51 votes.
        3.Reconciliation only works for things affecting taxes (budget) substantially
        4.NFA, or delisting from NFA is primarily about revenue (regulation comes with the revenue- at the time, congress thought that was the ONLY power they had, making NFA uniquely a taxing issue)
        5.Thus, delisting Suppressors is mostly a revenue issue, hence vulnerable to a reconciliation fix.

        What did I miss? Which number has the error?

        1. avatar Jonathan - Houston says:

          4 and 5.

          If the NFA were purely a revenue issue, then its constitutionality would begin and end with the Congress’s authority to levy taxes. Yet, in U.S. v. Miller, the Supreme Court affirmed the law in terms of Congress’s authority to regulate interstate commerce. Failure to register the short barrel shotgun in that case and obtain a stamp for it was the issue.

          The lower court agreed that the NFA was not a revenue measure, but a usurpation of the states’ police powers and a violation of the 2A. The SC disagreed with that conclusion only insofar as it was not a usurpation of police powers or 2A violation, not that it was not primarily a revenue matter.

          While the NFA was enacted by Congress as an exercise of its authority to tax, the NFA had an underlying purpose unrelated to revenue collection. As the legislative history of the law discloses, its underlying purpose was to curtail, if not prohibit, transactions in NFA firearms. Congress found these firearms to pose a significant crime problem because of their frequent use in crime, particularly the gangland crimes of that era such as the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. The $200 making and transfer taxes on most NFA firearms were considered quite severe and adequate to carry out Congress’ purpose to discourage or eliminate transactions in these firearms.

          Finally, the 2002 Homeland Security Act transferred the ATF and authority for NFA enforcement out of the Dept. of Treasury and into the Dept. of Justice. This evinces Congress’s current view that the NFA is about regulating these items criminally for their own sake, not as mere revenue generating objects.

      3. avatar Dan says:

        It’s a tax bill so it might be possible to put it in reconciliation. Removing them from the NFA would save around $1million/year and 30 staff members .

  2. avatar uncommon_sense says:

    Let me get this straight: politics-as-usual in Washington D.C. are a significant obstacle for the Hearing Protection Act?!?!? This is my surprised face. Again. Still.

    1. avatar The Gray Poseur says:

      Not a chance a bunch of Democrats vote for any relaxation of firearms related regulations. No way.

      1. avatar Geoff PR says:

        I’m not so sure on that.

        Come mid-terms in 1.75 years, the Progs have to defend an enormous number of Senate seats, something like 25, if memory serves.

        If Trump doesn’t blow it by then, we have a good crack at a filibuster-proof Senate.

        (Trump will blow it if he doesn’t get a grip on his WH staff and kill those damn leaks he has. I’m getting a bad feeling he has folks close to him that don’t have his best interests at heart…)

        1. avatar The Gray Poseur says:

          Democrats never admit they are not doing something right and change course accordingly. They only double down on the stupid. No way 8 Dem senators switch sides.

  3. avatar John in TX (Was CT) says:

    My question is this: What good will letters really do? If I were in CT, writing to Murphy and Blumenthal, it would be clear from the first sentence of the conversation that I was never going to vote for either of them. Would their aides really pass along a message of “We got 15,000 letters asking that you vote in favor of the HPA”, or would they just throw them in the shred pile because “murder-fantasizing gun nuts”?

    1. avatar beefeater says:

      It won’t hurt, and it lets them know that they have constituents that want this done. Even though I expect my senators (Schumer, Gillibrand) to oppose the HPA, writing to them about it won’t make them oppose it more.

    2. avatar Norincojay says:

      Just because you didn’t vote for them doesn’t mean they don’t represent you. They should be representing everyone in the state as best as possible not just certiain groups. Yeah I know doesn’t really happen which is one of the problems with these dirt bags. They only care about “their”half of the population. It’s quite disgusting how partisan everything and every branch of the government has become over the decades.

    3. avatar Nanashi says:

      That they know you won’t vote for them is secondary. The big thing is how many of your friends will a non-response to or evasion of your letter will convince to do the same? Winning isn’t all they care about, it’s how much of their time and money they have to actually spend doing so.

      They don’t want this to be their official position. They want it to quietly rot in committee.

    4. avatar Jim Miller says:

      Ditto for Stabenow and Peters in MI…colossal waste of time contacting them. Only hope is Stabenow is up for re-election in 2018 (that is why she is seen behind Schumer at all photo-ops.

  4. avatar Anon in CT says:

    If the GOP and Trump can’t even get this done, then they will be getting a lot less help from firearms owners and the NRA in 2 and 4 years. This doesn’t have to be that controversial – those scary cans will still be subject to a regular NICS check and treated like firearms (as silly as that is).

    I understand that National Carry Reciprocity is a very high hill, and I wouldn’t expect anything on that front unless the GOP takes a bunch more Senate seats in 2 years – and even then I know some Republicans will be wobbly.

    1. avatar Timothy says:

      If Trump does nothing besides push a moderately pro gun guy into the Supreme Court, it will be a win of epic proportions compared to what Hillary would have done. If Trump and the GOP manage something like the HPA, or national reciprocity, then he will be the best president the 2A has had since Washington. Seriously, even Reagan signed into law fire arms restrictions. How many people been killed by civilian held full autos? Zero in how many decades!? Time to ban all manufacture of them!

      1. avatar Norincojay says:

        Bush senior wasn’t 2nd friendly either.

  5. avatar Stateisevil says:

    I would be very surprised if Congress passed either the HPA or national reciprocity.

    1. avatar Bud Harton says:

      Then I am surprised that you didn’t collapse with a major heart attack when Trump was elected

    2. avatar LarryinTX says:

      I’m being surprised regularly. Mostly by TX, but not only. TX (without a lot of public notice) passed open carry, campus carry, and car carry, I did not even know they were players. My bet is that around 80% of Americans really do not care, possibly do not even understand, issues like suppressors. They do not know or care what the laws are now, and if you described the changes you want, their razor-sharp response would sound like “Huh?”. This is not criticizing *them*, by the way, but the morons who continue to claim such a change would lead to TEOTWAWKI. The best reason we can present for the changes is a single word, “freedom!”, and they respond by stories of gunfight at the OK corral, rivers of blood in the streets, and 2-gun cowboy rigs.

    3. avatar surlycmd says:

      I agree with you State. How many suppressors are sold each year? A $200 tax is pure revenue for .gov. I don’t believe enough Senators will vote to give up the cash. They will come up with some anti gun reason but it will be about the cash.

      1. avatar Stinkeye says:

        I don’t think the revenue is as big a factor as you think. There are have been about 150-200k suppressors sold per year for the last couple years, that’s only $30-$40 million per year. That’s not even a tiny fraction of the ATF’s $1.3 billion budget. I suspect that the taxes collected on NFA items don’t even cover the costs of processing NFA paperwork, so de-listing suppressors is actually probably a net positive fiscally.

        1. avatar Eric Lawrence says:

          I think I saw not to long ago a report where the skyrocketing number of NFA checks that are being produced on a yearly basis means that the NFA $200 tax has become a cash negative situation for the ATF. So many new hires and current personnel are being wasted on the processing of all NFA items, but suppressors especially, that it has created quite a drain on resources. IMHO that is the impetus behind the ATF White Paper. The ATF is losing money and (just as important) agents time in enormous ways by doing something that should and could be done at the gun store immediately.

  6. avatar Red in CO says:

    No, it’s certainly not a done deal. But it is entirely possible. Well have to really mobilize, but this is one of the best chances we’ve had to make a serious dent in the NFA for a long time. Plus, this victory would likely be permanent. Never out of the fight!

  7. avatar BN says:

    If somebody can get Trump to undo the last Obama executive order regarding the additional BS for a Trust I’ll get back to buying more suppressors, otherwise I’ll hang out and see what happens.

  8. avatar Jason says:

    Well color me shocked as hell. This jackass singlehandedly ruins an entire industry and then says “my bad”.

    What a complete idiot.

    1. avatar Gruney says:

      Can you explain your comment to the rest of us?

      Are you talking about the Silencerco guy? How did he ruin it?

  9. avatar Hannibal says:

    It will never get 60 votes in the senate.

    It will be ‘filibustered’ in so far as that’s even a thing. More accurately the dems will threaten to filibuster it and the GOP will probably scuttle it on that basis.

  10. avatar Gunrunner says:

    Does anyone know if the ATF process for approving Form 4’s is law or just an ATF rule/procedure? I have not run across law that says exactly how the ATF is supposed to go about the registration process.

    Let’s just say the HPA doesn’t pass. If it IS the case that ATF’s onerous registration process is not law and simply their rule/process, it would be MUCH easier to simply fix their process because no legislation would be required- just the rulemaking process. There’s no getting around the tax and registration without a change in the law, but if the application and processing of a Form 4 became more akin to a 4473 and NICS, we’d still be stuck with the $200 tax but I imagine you could get a tax stamp in weeks- closer to the turnaround on a Form 3.

    That’s better than nothing.

    1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

      Gunrunner,

      Everything that you said is true as far as I know.

      Having said that, keep in mind that it would be just as easy for a future President to order far more draconian rules than we have in place right now. A legislative change is preferable, and a favorable U.S. Supreme Court decision would probably be even better.

  11. avatar Jon in CO says:

    At this point, them just removing the tax from the damn things is good enough for me (for now..). My cheap ass refuses to pay a tax to an already overfunded government as it is. There is no reason that the damn tax can’t be paid over the counter, give the FFL a book of stamps, track the stamp number to the serial number, no big deal.

  12. avatar Vhyrus says:

    This is exactly what I said a few weeks ago when we were talking like the damn thing was sitting on Trumps desk, and I was called a defeatist.

    1. avatar Marco says:

      Defeatist!

      1. avatar LarryinTX says:

        Let’s get de feet MOVING!

  13. avatar barnbwt says:

    Ocare repeal isn’t a done-deal.
    Tax cuts aren’t a done-deal.
    HPA isn’t a done-deal.
    Repeal of the lead ban/etc isn’t a done deal.
    Deconstruction of our illegal domestic spying apparatus isn’t a done deal.
    Hell, even the SIG pistol acquisition isn’t a done deal.
    Despite, I’ll grudgingly admit, Trump largely unifying the Republican electorate post-election,
    Despite a supermajority in the house, sturdy majority in the Senate, the presidency, very soon a favorable SCOTUS, and almost 3/4ths of state houses, we’re somehow unsure of what the future holds?

    Why on God’s green earth did we even elect these useless sacks? Was is really just because they weren’t Hillary? They really never did plan on ever having the reigns of power again, did they; that’s the only explanation for their hesitation & confusion.

    The GOP statehouses alone will be capable of ratifying amendments immediately at the rate things are going, there are nearly enough states in favor of an Article V convention to activate the protocol, and the military is far more loyal to the GOP states’ aims than those of the DNC or urban enclaves, let alone these worthless political parties; unless the GOP suddenly collapses even faster than the DNC is, it is almost certain to acquire more positions in the coming years, practically ensuring Article V is activated by state officials sick of these cowardly delays. We may well be nearing a Second American Revolution, very different from the last two, where the prevailing power structures are bypassed entirely by an Article V Constitutional Convention and dispensed with in an East-European-style (mostly) non-violent uprising by a new unity government. Given the makeup of those who would be participating (delegates from these conservative-dominated statehouses) it is probably the best maneuver we the people have left, unfortunately.

    1. avatar barnbwt says:

      In the end, the Republican Party’s inability to govern even incompetently (like the Democrats) at the federal level may be just the kick in the pants the states need to begin taking back their rightful positions in this republic.

      1. avatar The Gray Poseur says:

        Dream on barn

  14. avatar JasonM says:

    Deconstruction of our illegal domestic spying apparatus isn’t a done deal.
    I wouldn’t expect much in that area from Trump, since he wants to expand the unconstitutional surveillance.

    1. avatar LarryinTX says:

      Who in the world told you that? Can we have a citation, please? Are you pals with Hillary?

    2. avatar Gruney says:

      They have to listen to ALL the phone calls because Terrorists!!

      Don’t you know how many terrorist plots they have prevented with this?

      No, you will have to use both hands to count them.

      BTW, Hi Bob!

  15. avatar strych9 says:

    I’m cautiously optimistic about the HPA.

    The ATF seems to be on board with the idea of removing silencers from the NFA and that, when it comes to convincing Senators, is huge.

  16. avatar Cadeyrn says:

    To all of those claiming the Dems will fillibuster everything and block everything:

    Let them.

    Put them to the test and make them do it. By mid-term elections in 2018 America will be so sick of their yammering they’ll all be sent packing and the Republicans will be given a super-majority and two glorious years to do precisely what they have promised to do.

    No more excuses.

  17. avatar Dave says:

    How about some information on how we the law-abiding gun owners can help make this go through. I know it’s a pain in the butt but if you put up some links or a list of people in each state that we can call or send emails to or both it would benefit what you’re trying to do and what we all want to see happen. Just my $0.10 worth.

  18. Sounds like he needs to sell some doubt to get his business back on track and end the silencer sales slump.

  19. avatar Kyle says:

    Let the Democrats filibuster it and while they do it, let the GOP do the rhetorical equivalent of put a hook up their rears and then give a good yank, because on the facts, this is a debate that the Dems cannot win. If GOP politicians who are aware of the facts get on the air and rip the crap out of the liberals over the stupidity of NOT passing the bill, I think it will be far easier. The major problem I think is that, unfortunately, too many of the GOP politicians themselves are not aware of the facts about silencers (for example, that they do not silence the weapon and are desired for hearing protection, not so that people can have some special assassin’s tool).

  20. avatar Bunny says:

    No, this bill is very doable. In 2013 we had a vote on national reciprocity. Eight of the democrats that voted for national reciprocity are still serving in 2017. It’s very likely all of them will vote for this bill, plus there are five-six senators who are junior senators and/or are from gun friendly states who voted Trump for the first time since 88.

    Also there are 52 GOP, not 51. Louisiana finished their run-off on the 2/9

  21. avatar Sian says:

    There’s other ways to beat a Fillibuster in procedure without the nuclear option, using the flexible definition of a ‘legislative day’ and Rule XIX

  22. avatar Tex300BLK says:

    I think realistically this bill will get punted to after 2018 midterms, if Republicans keep or strengthen their majority it sees light of day then. If not, next best chance is if Trump wins another 4 years (which I actually wholly believe he will because if you look around, progressives havent learned a single lesson from their drubbing in 2016).

    Oh, and we need to get another justice on the court. The 9th circuit is stacked with Obama political activists and Gorsuch just barely returns status quo and you will remember that even when Scalia was still alive they werent exactly tripping over themselves to hear many pro-2A cases.

  23. avatar Joe R. says:

    As long as we’re ‘walking back’ expectations on the HPA, let’s get it out there that we’re also not going to be supporting [the same set of] douche wet ca-ca republicant RINO mfs.

    Anyone wanna support guns out there? Anyone. No? THEN PACK YOUR SH_T AND GO THE F_<K HOME ! Sh_T on your own mandate for breathing only.

  24. avatar Burt Jameson says:

    I am a hard line 2nd amendment guy… BUT…

    This legislation is not going to ever reach a vote in the Senate. At the end of the day there are far too many hot issues of far more importance to Senators than eliminating a $200 tax on silencers so Mr Waldron can make more money. Being Pal’s with Don Jr. won’t help in the Senate.

    So it will die in committee sometime late this year. In the mean time, Mr Waldron’s company is going to be bankrupt because nobody is buying his Silencers. Everyone is sitting around waiting for the tax to be lifted and paperwork to be eliminated before they spring $750 bucks on a new silencer. Supply is huge and demand is near zero… bad news for any business.

    Waldron (and the rest of the industry) would be better off if the Senate committee just voted it down TODAY and called it dead…

  25. avatar Dave says:

    Who do we need to contact I live in Florida and don’t mind making a phone call every morning if I knew who to call question mark question mark somebody please post a list of politicians we need to make contact with to make it easier on all of us who were supposed to be calling and emailing. Thanks again.

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