Jeremy S. for TTAG
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The American Suppressor Association is a gun rights org that you may not be aware of. Unlike more well-known three- and four-letter operations (think: NRA, SAF, FPC, GOA, NAGR), they have a more focused niche. They’re out there working on the federal, state and local levels to ease the restrictions on the ownership and use of — you guessed it — suppressors.

Case in point: in February, the ASA filed suit in Illinois challenging the state’s ban on silencers. You know…those common sense hearing protection devices that are heavily regulated and taxed by the federal government. These are basic safety devices that every gun owner should be able to pick up at their local gun store or order through the mail.

For some inexplicable reason, however, that’s not the case and hasn’t been since 1934. Thanks to the involvement of our friends in the federal government, buying a can — where they’re legal — is more involved than that. And they’re banned altogether in eight states (I bet you can name at least seven of them without Googling).

The ASA, backed by Silencer Shop, filed suit in US district court in Illinois seeking to overturn that benighted state’s suppressor ban as inconsistent with the text, history, and tradition of firearms laws in the United States. In other words, the ASA is using the clear language of the Bruen ruling to make the state defend its can ban on a post-Bruen landscape.

Dan Z. for TTAG

As the ASA’s suit on behalf of a couple of Illinois hunters makes clear . . .

By prohibiting Plaintiffs from possessing and carrying suppressors, Illinois has prevented Plaintiffs from “keep[ing] and bear[ing] Arms” within the meaning of the Amendment’s text. As a result, “[t]o justify its regulation, the government . . . must demonstrate that the regulation is consistent with this Nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation.”

Defendants cannot demonstrate any such thing. Heller and Bruen have provided the sole historical tradition that can remove an arm from the Second Amendment’s protective scope—the tradition of banning dangerous and unusual weapons. To be banned, a firearm must be both “dangerous and unusual.” But suppressors are neither dangerous nor unusual. Arms that are in common use, as the ordinary suppressors Illinois has banned unquestionably are, cannot be unusual. And suppressors, which actually increase the safety of a firearm, cannot be dangerous. Suppressors do not meet the Supreme Court’s threshold for banning arms, and the Illinois laws challenged herein must be held unconstitutional.

Keep your fingers crossed. We talked to Knox Williams, the ASA’s executive director, about the Illinois case and other fronts on which the org is fighting. As you might expect, they have a lot on their plates these days. They’re busier than Kamala Harris’s comms team after she says, well, anything in public.

On the plus side, there’s the latest iteration of the Hearing Protection Act. The bill would regulate suppressors like a firearm. That’s not the total deregulation we’d all like to see, but the bill would remove cans from NFA regulation and treat them like firearms. You’d just need a standard background check to buy one. That would be a huge step in the right direction.

On the decidedly negative side, there’s the HEAR Act. That’s a bill recently introduced by the usual suspects that would ban the importation, sale, manufacturing, transfer, and possession of gun silencers or suppressors. Yes…that would be an outright federal ban on suppressors nationwide.

Desert Tech HTI .50 BMG rifle with Huxwrx suppressor
Dan Z. for TTAG

Given the current makeup of Congress, neither bill has much chance of getting anywhere. But that doesn’t mean the ASA can ignore an opportunity like the Hearing Protection Act or the threat presented by the HEAR Act.

They’ve also been heavily involved in places like Colorado (the recently defeated ‘assault weapons’ ban would have included language banning threaded barrels) and, most recently, Washington State. In other words, much like the effort to defend and extend gun rights in general, the ASA is involved in a fight that never ends.

Dan Z. for TTAG

Even in pro-gun states, the ASA’s out there trying to expand the ability of hunters to hunt with suppressors. Because who wouldn’t rather shoot with a can than without one?

Williams tells us that one of his biggest challenges is getting the word out about the organization, letting people know what they’re doing and drumming up more members. There are somewhere between 1 and 1.5 million suppressor owners in America. That number’s growing fast, but it’s still a relatively small number of America’s 100 million gun owners.

SilencerCo suppressors
Dan Z for TTAG

The ASA’s support base is comprised of a few dozen companies and retailers along with about individual 4000 members. They provide the funds to keep the ASA’s people out there, lobbying for better legislation and in in the courts challenging bans as they are in Illinois (they tell me more lawsuits are in the pipeline).

So if you’re a suppressor owner, if you plan to be one in the future, or if you just want to see the NFA chipped away and eventually fall, you could do a lot worse than becoming an ASA member. You can do that here.

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42 COMMENTS

  1. Neat, would love to get in a 458 can if only for silliness with 45-70. Otherwise still need to get threaded barrels to be a less restricted item up here first. But for those in more free states not a bad idea to push for more freedom.

  2. As much as I love suppressors, I’ frankly tired of hearing about them. Every election cycle we hear about trying to deregulate them. The truth is this is always nothing but a pandering for votes. Twice now we have had the numbers to get it done and nothing but crickets. Until something real happens, I don’t care.

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    • Yep, Republicans love to talk about this when they don’t have the House, or the Senate, or the White House. Then the first nut case who should have been locked up that shoots up a gun free zone, and they figure they are off the hook. They then go back to using us for fundraising.

  3. Thatd be nice but to late for me. Sometimes I get tired of hearing crickets and buzzing.
    And who put the bomb in the trash pit anyway. I coulda been killed

  4. This is, as are most of the gun restrictions in California, something that will not likely be changed through the legislative process, but only through the courts, one state at a time. If the Supreme Court approves ARs and full capacity mags, well then there is a good chance of judicial change on the horizon. Meanshiel, the majority of people out there are still convinced, by a multitude of movies, that a silence pistol is, literally, silenced (as opposed to merely suppressed or muffled somewhat), and therefore have no valid use by law abiding peoples.

    • Yes, NFA is the highest-hanging fruit. SBR / SBS may be a little lower, but your last sentence summarizes most people’s suppressor opinions exactly. It’s not just movies either; use by SWAT and SOF rather than the rank and file reinforces the impression that they’re an elite secret weapon that gives an unfair advantage over police.

  5. That’s been my position all along. I’ve disagreed with those that say suppressors should be treated just like ordinary guns. That’s only a half way means to assert a right. They should be treated just like flash hiders or any other passive accessories. I think many of us would love to have a suppressor. This might compel many more manufacturers to provide threaded barrels on more of their guns. And give hobbyists a chance to make home-brew units to experiment using new types and materials.

      • Do you know why? Because if the flash is “hidden”, the police will have a harder time figuring out where you are shooting from. (Hey, I didn’t think this up.) But muzzle brakes are entirely legal. Go figure. Also banned are threaded barrels on pistols, but not rifles.

        (By the by, TTAG did a flash hider study some years back, and as I recall, the A-2 Birdcage came out on top, or nearly so.)

        • “…TTAG did a flash hider study some years back, and as I recall, the A-2 Birdcage came out on top, or nearly so.)”

          Which is odd, as the A-2 has large cutouts on the sidewalls, obscuring maybe 50 percent of the muzzle. So how does that magically ‘hide’ the fireball?

        • The primary intent is to disperse the fireball into several small radial jets, instead of having a larger single ball of flame, to reduce the amount of flash seen by the shooter. This reduces the temporary effect of night blindness.

          You could argue that it also somewhat “hides” the position of the shooter, but that is technically secondary.

  6. Honestly it’s not the $200 tax…it’s not giving them my photo and prints…it’s the 3-18month wait…even if you already own NFA items.

    • Seriously. Like my prints change so much year after year and just grab my photo from the DMV.

      There is no other purpose to this nonsense other than to be an obstacle of deterrence. None of it has anything to do with background checking or vetting.

      • There is no reason with *every* public record on-line and searchable that it takes that long. I’m willing to be reasonable. 30 days max. That’s enough motivation for them to find anything that’s findable to disqualify someone.

        And I’m not even going into the ‘poll tax’ argument of taxing a civil right… 🙁

      • “…obstacle of deterrence…”

        Hopefully, this argument will eventually be made to SCOTUS, which should be dispositive.

  7. This is a nonstarter for this ILLANNOY resident. I’ll likely move east before this state deigns us plebes worthy of a can. Oh & they outlawed threaded barrel’s. A safe act🙄😆🤮

  8. i just want one pistol suppressor
    and one rifle suppressor
    and i dont want to go through any of the bs
    is that too much to ask for

  9. I don’t want or need one, but banning/restricting something that has absolutely nothing to do with making a firearm dangerous is just ridiculous, which explains perfectly the left’s obsession with them.

    • But but but all the money they spent on shotspotter.
      And Silencers turn people into mobster hit men just like gunms cause people to kill.everyone in sight.

  10. I mean how good was the technology in 1934 to make them considered dangerous? Even today they certainly aren’t “silent” by any means. Got yer Hollyweird to thank for the misperception. And don’t get me started on that hypocritical bunch of money grubbers!

    • They were considered dangerous (and added after the passage of the 1934 Act as I remember) because bad guys were using them in the mob wars to assassinate their enemies.

  11. And to think, most of the Countries in Europe, a sound suppressor can be bought “over the counter” like most any other gun accessories.

    • It’s not just liberalism that’s a disease it’s all modern humans that are the disease.
      Apeman never had to worry about nuclear war or the payments to wifi.

  12. This is one issue where our resident trolls Civilized Countries got it right. Suppressors for most rifles and handguns. make life interesting to have effective hearing protection that wasn’t as uncomfortable as plugs nor as cumbersome as over the ear muffs.
    Why do the politicians and bureaucrats always try to take good ideas and make them illegal?

  13. There is zero chance the Supreme Court would hear a case on the legalization of over counter sales of silencers. Its a political hot potato and when it came up before Congress several years ago the Speaker of the House refused to even permit the bill to go up for discussion.

    I might add that whenever I pinned people down as to why “they really wanted a silencer” the response was always the same chilling reply “Because if I ever needed it”.

    The courts also know if silencers were ever sold over the counter every street punk, criminal and gang banger would be gunning down citizens so fast the undertakers would be a year behind in processing the dead bodies.

    • “There is zero chance the Supreme Court would hear a case on the legalization of over counter sales of silencers.”

      You said the *exact* same thing about the SCotUS taking up any gun cases. Oh, how you bleated on that endlessly. You were wrong (as usual, I needlessly need to add.)

      And then, we got ‘Bruen’. 🙂

      “…every street punk, criminal and gang banger would be gunning down citizens so fast the undertakers would be a year behind in processing the dead bodies.”

      If it’s fascists like you getting shot, that’s a good thing… 🙂

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  15. It doesn’t help there is a suppressor business owner who has created a business model that facilitates the entire buying/ approval/ shipping process who actively lobbies his congress critters to oppose removing suppressors from the NFA.

  16. NFA is going nowhere. It’s just a GOP campaign bobble like national reciprocity. The current high court may not like complete bans on things but they’re not touching the NFA. Ownership would have to grow a lot to move the needle. Now you have a bunch of people owning 10-20 of them lol.

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