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During the 2016 presidential election, President-elect Donal Trump repeatedly emphasized his support for the Second Amendment. But I don’t recall any mention of gun mufflers, silencers, or the Hearing Protection Act.

But the forcefulness of the attention he paid to the Second Amendment is having implications beyond gun rights per se. The President-elect is setting the tone, and people are beginning to get in line.

The Hearing Protection Act, or HPA, was filed by Matt Salmon of Arizona, a consistent stand-up guy where the Second Amendment is concerned. Salmon is retiring this year, but the HPA will likely go forward in 2017.  The bill reforms the current archaic restrictions and regulations on silencers in this country. Those restrictions are holdovers from the 1930s and never made any sense.

The rest of the world doesn’t share America’s fear of suppressors. Elsewhere, silencers are regarded as a useful safety accessory, something that neighbors appreciate because it reduces noise pollution.

In Europe, silencers are far less regulated than they are in the United States. In New Zealand, a 12-year-old can walk into a hardware store, pay about $20, and walk out with a perfectly serviceable silencer.

Before Trump’s election, the HPA didn’t appear in the top ten of the most viewed bills before Congress. Following the election, in the week ending November 13th, the Hearing Protection Act was the second most viewed bill on the congressional web site. And it has been in the top three every week since.

Make no mistake, Congresscritters pay attention to these sort of things. Here is the link to the site that tracks the most viewed bills, if you want to see how the bill does in the weeks ahead.

The HPA is common sense reform legislation that is long overdue.

©2016 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.

Gun Watch

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  1. After reading the text, I take it that if this bill becomes law, it wouldn’t change anything for those who live in states that outright outlaw suppressors. Am I understanding that right?

    • Roy,

      Yes, your understanding is correct as far as I can tell.

      As discouraging as that might seem, I have a hunch that any states which currently outlaw suppressors outright would promptly make them legal after fedzilla makes them legal … at least the 41 states which more-or-less embrace firearms ownership right now. (Hawaii, California, Illinois, New York, Maryland, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut will probably never de-criminalize suppressors.)

      • In March, the Massachusetts version of the hearing protection act (S. 1271) was unanimously passed by the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security. The bill went to the General Court (the legislature) and was promptly kicked to the Ways and Means committee.

        The Democrats are pulling their usual Billy Bulger shenanigans, but the bill ain’t dead yet.

      • No, the bill would preempt state laws.

        Republicans just aren’t as anti gun as Democrats. They’ll never touch the NFA unless we force them to.

        • No, the bill only preempts state laws which would impose a tax, marking or registration requirement. The preemption does nothing for state laws which outright ban their use.

      • Oddly enough, CT doesn’t criminalize suppressors. We’re all still subject to the NFA, but that’s about it. I’m right now waiting for the ones I ordered in June.

        • They’re not silencers *cough*, they’re sound suppressors. Even though the name of one the biggest companies is Silencerco… And they are trying to change the image the public has of them being assassins tools.

        • The guy who held the patent, as well as legislators who’ve regulated them, and the BATFE would offer different nomenclature. Like say, silencer

          Just sayin’.

    • Seems to be. It basically would basically remove them from NFA registry requirements. They’d still be considered firearms by themselves, if I recall and purchasable from any dealer.

      Personally I find myself a little more interesting in the idea of just making my own suppressor. They’re not exactly complex.

  2. [As Previously Posted] Next, or concurrently we need the Repetitive Injury Trigger Finger Protection bill repealing the 4 sentence un-voted inclusion in the National Firearms Act (no thank you Charlie (D)bag Rengel).

    Why? Because I trust you.

    AND because the ATF&E trusts you as much as a Slide-Fire Stock or Binary Trigger.

    • Wait til after January, $20US will be like 2,400 Kiwi, 540,000 €; 21,500 ¥, 4,600 ₽ . . . but only about 1.0 £, hmm. Brexit = nice.

  3. I have a can in NFA jail awaiting form signoff…..

    I assume that if the HPA was passed I could cancel my in-process form and get my $200 back


    If the form gets approved, but I don’t pick up the can for transfer to me is it possible to cancel that and get my $200 back. I’m thinking NO because the stamp would have been issued.

    Is there a way to put the form on hold?

    Let me make a prediction….if the HPA looks imminent I’d wager that the ATF approval rate would increase 10-100X per day to pick up their $200.

    • The law, as currently written, will REFUND YOUR $200 for any suppressor application (Form 1 or Form 4) submitted AFTER the bills introduction, that is, after 11/23/2015, upon the bill becoming law.

      So, no prediction necessary. If it takes 3 years for the law to pass, and there are 100,000 suppressor applications that were submitted after 11/23/2015, every single one of them will get their $200 ‘tax’ refunded.

        • Everyone seems to be ignoring the 400 lb. gorilla in the room – the guys currently cranking out seriously over-priced marginal-performance junk. Most, if not all of them will have their market evaporate in a matter of months, if not weeks if this passes.

          I guarantee their lobbyists are hard at work attempting to seriously limit the bill or make sure it doesn’t pass. The Chinese will be buying the best cans they can find, and copying them within weeks. You will get a shiny new ‘Srirencercro’ can for $89.95 at the local big box, or an even cheaper knock-off off for that aforementioned Jackson.

          It will kill a nascent domestic industry, but the masses will get cheap silencers. Swords always have two edges…

        • If your fears come true it will end up like Arc’Teryx gear where you can verify the authenticity of the product via the manufacturer before you buy it.

          Arc’Teryx does this by not putting a name or model number on anything. Each piece of clothing they make gets a unique ID number, their logo/name and a size designation. If you call them up and give them the number they’ll tell you what you’re looking at, what size/color it is, when it was made and everything else you could possibly want to know (plus some stuff you probably don’t care about). If the number doesn’t match what you’re looking at or doesn’t exist it ain’t Arc’Teryx. IIRC Rab does the same thing.

          Sounds overblown for clothing but when you make some of the the best mountaineering (as well as LE/military) gear in the world and charge the prices they [justifiably] do you’re gonna have knockoffs and really pissed off customers who thought they got a killer deal on a $1000+ dollar parka for $600 and it turned out to be junk. Dead Bird got creative and nipped that shit in the bud. Now if you end up with a knockoff it’s 100% your fault.

          Of course you can always just buy from reputable dealers. Your LGS knows if they bought it from TBAC, GemTech, Silencerco etc or if they got a knock off. Quite frankly, you should know too. If the price seems too good to be true then there’s at least a 95% chance that it is. However, if you do catch your LGS pulling this shit, put them on blast via the interwebz and watch their business circle the drain.

        • Were silencers something unique, or well-designed that would be true. But with maybe one exception, they’re mainly marketing – there’s no actual science (beyond some empirical) involved in their manufacture. They’re simple devices any decent home machinist could crank out with little effort and achieve essentially the same result.

          If they become a commodity item, perhaps the closest comparison would be optics. There are a few folks who can/will drop the coin for a Swarovski or Zeiss, but unless you’re really dedicated, most folks grab something around $100-$300. Difference being a silencer is a ‘nice to have’, not a ‘need to have’ for the vast majority.

          As I’ve said for the last 5-ish years, unless the can is designed using CFD modelling, self-cancelling reflective technology, and designed not only to a particular gun, round, loading, and projectile, it’s just some stuff thrown together by some guys who are, at most generous, guessing. Which is what the Chicoms have created an entire economy copying.

        • 16V:

          No offense here but your view of silencer manufacture is incorrect. There’s a lot more going on here than you seem to think.

          The cheap stuff that’s thrown together doesn’t last, doesn’t work comparatively well, creates unrepeatable POI shift and quite frankly can be dangerous. That’s why GemTech exists: because the original guy (who still works there) got ticked back in the day that silencers didn’t last more than 200-500 rounds and still had a tax stamp attached to them.

          And no, we’re not talking about cans with wipes. Those wipes are replaceable and are cheap. We’re talking about something that’s all metal and will should for virtually forever while giving you repeatable POI with removal and reattachment. That’s what a modern can gives you. The engineering of something like a TBAC, Silencerco, GemTech, Dead Air, SureFire etc is more than you’d like to think about and it’s not cheap.

          On top of that these things are made of stainless, titanium and/or other metals that are difficult to machine and deal with and become more difficult to deal with when combined to bi-metal fixtures that are then subjected to high pressure, heat and yet more metals. Suppressors are also machined to extremely tight tolerances. That shit ain’t cheap. Then there’s the welding of them which in and of itself isn’t cheap at all due to the aforementioned pressures the can has to withstand. It’s either done by a skilled TIG welder such as yours truly or done by a machine that costs quite literally millions of dollars and has to be baby sat by a skilled welder.

          Yes, a big part of this is the fact that they don’t sell many due to current law and that would change under the HPA but high end cans will still be high end cans and while the price may drop from $800-1000 to $400-$500 they will still be worth that price. Fools will pay less to get less. Serious shooters will continue to purchase the good cans because they don’t want an unpredictable 4MOA POI shift when they screw a can on to their rifle.

          A cheapo Chi-com can would be a small bomb attached to the front end of your gun. That’s what “guessing” will get you. Oh, and it would need State Department approval for import.

          As for making one at home… well, I’ve heard that A LOT. “It’s just washers and a MagLight body with a few spot welds they say”. I post the following having worked as a TIG (stainless as hastelloy) welder in an industry where the rule is “If your weld fails someone dies” and I know my welds are X-ray quality because every one of them was X-ray inspected. I’m fully capable of fabricating nearly anything and I will honestly tell you that I wouldn’t attempt to make a silencer for a gun I intended to physically hold. Here’s what a “decent” home machinist makes. I say “decent” because it doesn’t pop on the first round:

        • strych9, No offense taken, I think you are missing my point. I’ve been to SHOT, I know what’s out there. That I’ve seen everybody selling cans today, with perhaps one exception, is engineering by empirical testing. Which is to say they spend a lot of time (and money) accomplishing sweet FA by throwing shit against a wall and seeing if it sticks. Don’t get me wrong, one can develop an ‘instinct’ for fluid dynamics and not just be WAGing, but I have yet to meet the person who can accomplish in a year what the comp can do in 5 minutes. They may be out there, but I’ve never even heard of them, or seen their work.

          Like designing an intake manifold for a car, if it isn’t CFD modelled, they’re just jerkin’ off. If it isn’t at least caliber specific, let alone gun, charge, and projectile specific, it’s, at most generous, ‘non-optimal’. As I noted earlier, I think there is finally one player outside of DARPA actually building a can that couldn’t be readily homebrewed. 10 years+ after the tech is state-of-the-shelf, but the gun world is always tip of the tail of tech. Cryo, and technical coatings that aren’t from the 19th century are finally here. 25 years after the smart folks did their own guns, but at least, maybe, I can finally buy a gun that’s sorta done right, new.

          My definition of “home machinist” can build a gun from raw pieces of metal, not some youtube-rube who slaps some washers in a maglite. I “knew” some early teens who did similar, or mounted oil filter adapters back in the ’70s. Worked about as well as half of the crap available right now.

          I would just offer is that you watch the state-of-the-shelf over the next 5-ish years. The top-o-da-line stuff today will be entry-level by 2021. Sooner, rather than later, one of these manufacturers will decide to have a measurable edge to get them ahead of the competition, and they’ll finally start building cans the way they should have been doing for the last 10 years.

          (No MIG/TIG required, by the by…)

      • Hearing Protection Act of 2015

        This bill amends the Internal Revenue Code to: (1) eliminate the $200 transfer tax on firearm silencers, and (2) treat any person who acquires or possesses a firearm silencer as meeting any registration or licensing requirements of the National Firearms Act with respect to such silencer. Any person who pays a tax on a silencer after October 22, 2015 may receive a refund of such tax.

        May receive a refund?? should be shall, no?

        • ACTUALLY,

          I would wager the interest earned from taking OUR money from us that WE worked for from every paycheck, is more than enough to cover the “income tax return” money they dish out once a year.

          I launched an LLC in January, and Iris has been paid more money than any of my employees. (6 man company). It’s criminal.

  4. Most viewed? Must be that the ever-shrinking number of white male gun owners who are buying the ever-larger volume of new gun production, applying for the exploding number of new carry permits, buying bra & purse holsters, and consuming more and more ammo & accessories every year, also have enough time on their idle, wealthy hands to repeatedly ping the congressional website for this bill…from their dirt-floor trailer park homes in rural unpaved flyover country.

    • Good description. Those old, white males need the guns to sell at gun shows in downtown Chicago, New York City, and Los Angeles, where there are no background checks.

      Better put a /S on it before I am quoted at The Trace.

      • I swear, when the after action report by historians is written on this election, Hillary’s newly-ignited war on guns is gonna be written as one of the most tone-deaf political miscalculations of all time. Up there with the Stamp Act, I’d nearly say. It’s astonishing her hubris was so great she thought she could outright fuck over 50-60% of the country and get away with it (she got more votes due to urban enclaves, but the EC is specifically designed to be resistant to this effect for this exact scenario). It was only as close as it was and not a McGovern-style blowout because Trump was running.

      • I’m somewhat pessimistic on the Hearing Bill and would be even more with SBRs. But I do hope! A 10.5″ .300 blk with suppressor would be ideal.

        • If the HPA passes, you could get a monocore and have it pinned and welded to bring it up to the legal length. Isn’t that the point of 300 blk anyway? I’m in!!

      • I’d say do everything on separate bills. That gives the HPA the maximum chance of passing and let’s us deal with other things on a case by case basis.

        On this topic I favor going one at a time because it reduces the ability of the opposition to conflate things and killed the HPA (or other bill) because they fear-monger about another part of the bill.

  5. With the proliferation of AR/AK pistols, being legal in every aspect of your life beyond slapping a $15 piece of plastic to the back of it, I see SBR/SBS laws changing in the next few years. If one is completely legal without any issues, and the other being 100% identical + stock, I could imagine a bill to remove registration requirements for them being a somewhat easy thing to do.

    Most of the problem with gun laws, in regards to changing them in pro-gun favor, is the lack of pictures. If you took a picture with a pistol AR and an SBR and showed people the absolutely asinine stupidity involved, I think they might actually understand. Then again, we are dealing with politicians…

    • All that would do is help inform those on the left that those AR/AK pistols need to be banned!

      It happened here in MA; a local store tried to show the silliness of the MA AWB and how those features made little difference to what is already legal guns. Shortly after we got the whole copycat assault weapon fiasco.

      There isn’t any use in applying logic to the left w/ guns. They are coming from a fundamental viewpoint that ALL guns aren’t necessary in society and should be banned. No amount of logic will change that viewpoint.

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