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The Tennessee Hearing Protection Act was signed by Governor Bill Haslam earlier this month and becomes effective on July 1. The act eliminates the ban on the ownership of gun mufflers/silencers/suppressors by the State of Tennessee. SB0921 or Tennessee Hearing Protection Act (HPA) was popular in the legislature, passing in the Senate 28-1 and 74-18 in the House.

The bill took a straightforward approach to reform of Tennessee’s silencer regulation, removing the archaic restrictions.


As introduced, enacts the “Tennessee Hearing Protection Act,” which deletes the prohibition on possession, manufacture, transport, repair, or sale of a firearm silencer. – Amends TCA Section 39-17-1301 and Section 39-17-1302.

TCA Section 39-17-1301

(5) “Firearm silencer” means any device designed, made or adapted to muffle the report of a firearm;


Firearm silencers were invented in 1902 by Hiram Maxim.  He also invented automobile mufflers. The two inventions are remarkably similar. Car mufflers came to be required equipment by law on the public roads. For no apparent reason, gun mufflers (aka silencers) were effectively outlawed by the FDR administration in 1934 through insanely high taxes and burdensome regulation. The $200 tax in 1934 was the equivalent of $3500 today. At the time, a Maxim Silencer cost about  $6. The federal tax was 3,300% of the cost of a silencer.

Reform of silencer/gun muffler law has been sweeping the nation. The American Suppressor Association (ASA) states that 18 states have legalized hunting with suppressors since 2011, and three states have legalized the ownership of suppressors.

The elimination of the Tennessee statutes that made suppressors illegal in the state does not eliminate the federal regulation of silencers. But federal prosecution of silencer law is more difficult than state prosecution, and the federal Hearing Protection Act is very popular.  It has been in the top ten most viewed bills on the Congressional web site for many weeks.  The act has 141 co-sponsors, including three Democrats.

If the federal HPA passes, Tennessee will not need to worry about useless state regulations.

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

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    • Well don’t forget that the guys making those suppressors have to be able to make money too. And they have to pay of a lot of middle men along the way. Not the least of which would be the middle man in the form of the government.

    • Pre-burdensome regulation VS Post burdensome regulation.

      Among other factors, you’re looking at the cost of government interference in the free market.

  1. Removing Suppressors from nfa list is not enough.

    So long trump and the republicans hold the majority in house and senat i want see attemptions to remove aow, sbr/sbs and big bore destrucitve device too !

    • I’m not trying to be a Debbie downer but I don’t see any of those happening. Not because of Trump- if the GOP actually passed them and put them on his desk, Trump would sign them to much fanfare so he could lock in our 2020 vote.. problem is the RINOS and GOPe are going to stifle conservative and Trump agendas as much as the democrats will over the next four years. McStain and Lindsay Demgham have publicly stated this, and it only takes a few GOP turncoats to block anything in the senate. The GOP wants Trump to lose in 2020 so they can run Jeb and Rubio again in 2024, make no mistake.

    • What is the position of the libertarian party representatives Gary Johnson and William Weld???
      What is the position of Justin Amash the libertarian in the congress? I really don’t know. Has he even talked about the HPA? Has Reason Magazine said anything? Or any other libertarian publication?
      What about the CATO institute? Any Links out there?
      I will be asking my senator Rand Paul.

      I continue to be amazed at former slave states and states with Jim Crow laws making it so much easier to get guns for everyone and be safer with them. The individual slave master has been replaced with the government collective slave master in the entire west coast. On the east coast its NJ, NY state and much of the north east. Wow

  2. So marijuana laws are pre emptying federal laws against marijuana so what’s the difference between state laws wouldn’t this law as worded be a state’s rights issue and make possession and sell of silencers legal unless the federal gov comes In and prosecutes it? What am I missing

    • They are not preempting federal law. Feds can still legally bust you for drug possession.

      • Exactly. The current state of marijuana “legalization” in some states is only possible because the Feds have decided not to prosecute. If the DEA wants to raid a pot store in Denver, confiscate all the inventory, and take everyone involved to jail, they can do it.

        It’s a confusing situation.

    • It’s no different than states legalizing weed. Yes, the federal govt could step in but they normally don’t mess with states, because its revenue. If the federal govt legalized weed, it would be across the board. No state would have to fight it. It just have leadership in some states that want to act prior to federal legalization.

  3. You are forgetting a bit of the history there Truth About….the part where the NRA helped by testify in Congress that nobody needed them either.

  4. We all need to change the term from silencer/suppressor to muffler
    The general public is all familiar with auto mufflers
    A car with a muffler is hearing safe but still can be heard coming
    A car without a muffler is a nuisance
    Same with guns

  5. It’s a win, but not too much of a win. Gun stores here have been openly selling suppressors for years. I was not even aware that suppressors were not allowed in TN as there was no enforcement.

    That being said, good job Gov. Haslam and the state legislature.

    • Suppressors were lawful in TN before this was passed. The same statute that “banned” suppressors said they were lawful if acquired in full compliance with NFA. The only thing the statute did was allow for additional state penalty if you already violated the NFA.

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