March 15, 2019
U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) joined Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) in introducing the Hearing Protection Act (HPA) in the Senate. The HPA, S. 817, would reclassify suppressors to regulate them like a regular firearm. Additional co-sponsors include Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) and Joni Ernst (Iowa).
On average, suppressors diminish the noise of a gunshot by 20-35 decibels, roughly the same sound reduction provided by earplugs or earmuffs. By further comparison, the most effective suppressors on the market can only reduce the peak sound level of a gunshot to around 110-120 decibels. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, that is as loud as a jackhammer (110 dB) or an ambulance siren (120 dB).
Currently regulated under the National Firearms Act (NFA), suppressors are subject to additional regulatory burdens. The HPA would reclassify suppressors to regulate them like traditional firearms. It would remove suppressors from regulation under the NFA, and replace the overly-burdensome federal transfer process with an instantaneous National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) background check, making the purchasing and transfer process for suppressors equal to that as for a rifle or shotgun. The HPA would not change any laws in states that already prevent suppressors, nor does it get rid of the requirement of a background check.
S. 817 is supported by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the American Suppressor Association, National Assembly of Sportsmen’s Caucus, Gun Owners of America and the National Rifle Association. The measure will now go to the Senate Judiciary Committee for consideration.
“Hunters and sport shooters in Oklahoma and around the country endure hearing loss and damage because misguided federal laws restricts access to suppressors unnecessarily,” said Senator Inhofe. “By implementing this common-sense reform to the National Firearms Act, we can make it easier for responsible, law-abiding gun owners to purchase and use suppressors to protect their hearing, whether at the range or in the field.”
“The Hearing Protection Act is the right step toward rolling back overly-burdensome regulations on Idaho’s sportswomen and men,” said Senator Crapo. “This legislation would ensure individuals in Idaho can have adequate hearing protection needed while hunting and participating in other recreational shooting sports.”
“This bill eliminates one more burdensome government regulation imposed on our sportsmen and women,” said Senator Risch. “I urge its passage so that law-abiding gun owners can protect their hearing while enjoying a pastime shared by thousands in Idaho.”
“Guns with suppressors are still very loud, just less likely to cause permanent ear damage,” said Senator Cassidy. “Anyone who thinks suppressors are movie ‘silencers’ clearly has never shot with one. This legislation is for sportsman and recreational shooters, not John Wick.”
“Hunters and recreational shooting enthusiasts are some of the most responsible gun owners in the country, so when they support a measure to better protect their health and hearing we should take notice,” said Senator Boozman. “The Hearing Protection Act is about helping these sportsmen and women continue to enjoy their hobby in a safe manner while still maintaining necessary regulatory precautions.”
“Our commonsense legislation would help protect hearing by eliminating red tape for those seeking to own a firearm suppressor,” said Senator Rounds. “Suppressors have nothing to do with whether guns are ‘silent’ or ‘dangerous’ – they are simply a tool to help protect the hearing of sportsmen.”
“It just makes sense to ease federal regulation of suppressors, which are already legal in most of states,” said Senator Hyde-Smith. “Some of the most liberal European nations require their use to reduce hearing-related injuries. This bill would make it easier to offer the same protection to law-abiding American sportsmen.”
“Many hunters and sportsmen in Nebraska use equipment to protect their hearing when they are participating in outdoor recreation activities and living the good life,” said Senator Fischer. “The bill we are introducing today would improve access to suppressors for recreationists by addressing regulatory burdens that make this equipment difficult to obtain.”
“This firearms safety legislation will enable gun owners to have better access to hearing protection accessories and improve safety for the shooting sports,” said Lawrence Keane, Senior Vice President and General Counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the firearms industry trade association. “These accessories have been unfortunately stigmatized and wrapped up by duplicitous background checks, extensive wait times and burdensome paperwork that doesn’t contribute to public safety. NSSF is appreciative of Sen. Crapo’s leadership on effective firearms safety that respects the rights of lawful American gun owners, hunters and shooting sports enthusiasts.”