USA – -(Ammoland.com)- Welcome back to The Legal Brief, the show where we CRUSH the various legal myths and misinformation surrounding various areas of the gun world.
I’m your host Adam Kraut and you if you haven’t already voted in the NRA Board of Directors Election, go vote! If you aren’t sure how to vote, be sure to check out the video I did on that and remember Kraut for NRA!
Today we are circling back to the Hearing Protection Act or HPA to talk about how a silencer manufacturer employee loses their wings every time someone says “I’m waiting until the Hearing Protection Act becomes a law”.
You may remember from the last video I did on the HPA that when the previous session of Congress ended, the bill would have to be reintroduced.
Earlier this year, after the new Congress was sworn in, the bill was reintroduced in both the House and the Senate. Good news right?
Absolutely. Unlike you may have heard the Hearing Protection Act is far from a done deal.
I won’t go into detail about the legislative process like I did last time, but it is worth noting that the way a bill becomes a law hasn’t changed since Trump took office. You still need Congress to pass the bill and have the president sign it in order for it to become law. Unsure of the process? Watch the previous episode on the HPA and if you still don’t understand be sure to check out the Schoolhouse Rock video on how a bill becomes a law.
The bill that was introduced in the House reads exactly like the previous version, so nothing has changed in that aspect. However, there is now a companion Senate bill which has slightly different language. With respect to the tax credit, the Senate bill provides that it will apply with respect to transfers after January 9, 2017 which differs from the October 22, 2015 language in the House version. This will need to be reconciled prior to heading to the President’s desk.
The other issue that still needs to be worked out in order for this bill to be a home run is the definition of a silencer. You may remember the definition of a silencer, which is found in the Gun Control Act, means “any device for silencing, muffling, or diminishing the report of a portable firearm, including any combination of parts, designed or redesigned, and intended for use in assembling or fabricating a firearm silencer or firearm muffler, and any part intended only for use in such assembly or fabrication.” So while the bill may remove a silencer from the purview of the NFA, silencer parts would still be considered a firearm. As Deputy Director Turk pointed out in his whitepaper that was “leaked” recently, “compared to the definition of a firearm, which specifies the frame or receiver is the key regulated part, any individual silencer part is generally regulated just as if it were a completed silencer.”
I took some time to talk to individuals in the silencer community to get their take on the HPA and its chances of passing. The general consensus is that the HPA is not passing in the first 100 days and likely not even this year. Why is that?
The incoming administration has a number of issues to tackle including: income tax cuts, corporate tax cuts, fighting ISIS, refugees, Obamacare, Supreme Court nominees, building Trump’s cabinet and of course, the wall. Given a large portion of the population views these issues as far more important than silencers, it is likely that is where Congress is going to focus its attention (more on that in a minute).
Every person I spoke to was in favor of the HPA. In fact, all were enthusiastic about the bill and want people to help make it a reality. That said, everyone was concerned about the way in which it was presented to the public when it was reintroduced this session. Additionally, a number of people indicated that they think the bill will have a better chance next year due to the makeup of Congress. Currently, there are not the 60 votes needed in the Senate to pass the bill through. However, next year 10 Democratic senators are up for reelection in states that went red this past cycle, which means that those senators are more likely to reconsider their position IF you make enough noise about the bill.
While I think the American Suppressor Association has done a fantastic job in pushing for legislation to legalize silencers in various states, the manner in which it and Silencerco spoke of the HPA earlier this year was not the right approach. They led many of you to believe that this was a done deal, first 100 days and boom unregulated silencers. As a result, a number of gun owners have decided to sit back and wait for the HPA to pass rather than getting involved in the process. And no, I’m not talking about signing a whitehouse.gov petition.
I have stated many times, the biggest threat to gun owners is complacency. For all the posts and comments I see about people stating they hope the bill becomes a law, the reality is that this bill will not become a law without your help. Stop hoping and start acting. You want this bill to become a law? You need to pick up the phone and call your senators and representatives, you need to email, you need to write letters, you need to make them aware that YOU want this to become a law.
So how do you do that? I talk about this all the time and people have often asked for guidance. In the description I’ve included links for you to find who your representative and senators are. I’ve also included some language for you to use when calling and emailing. You’ll want to start by calling both the local office and the Washington, D.C. office for your Senators. As the Senate is where the bill is likely to be more hotly contested, especially needing 60 votes, you’ll really want to put the pressure on. Then you’ll want to repeat the process with the offices of your Representative.
After you’ve done that, and it should take you all of 10 minutes to have called all of the offices for both Senators and your Representative, you’ll want to fire up the email and repeat the process. It’s ok if you don’t do it the same exact day, but you’ll want to do it sooner rather than later. Feel better? Good. Now get your friends to do the same exact thing.
So what about the bill itself?
Well, just like last year, it is currently sitting in committee in both the House and Senate. In the House, it is sitting in the Ways and Means and Judiciary Committees. In the Senate, it is sitting in the Finance Committee. In order to be voted on, it must make it out of committee. At some point we’ll want to push the members of the committee to vote on the bill, however, it is important to consider whether there will be enough votes on the actual floor to pass the bill. As we reviewed last time, there are several different ways a bill can die. They include death by committee (meaning they sit there forever with no action, which is what happened last time) and making it to the floor for a vote only to be voted down. At this point, I’m going to say it again, get on the phone with the people that matter.
Hopefully that gives you a better understanding of what the current status of the HPA is and how you can help make it a reality.
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And as always thanks for watching!
Links for this episode:
Now that you know who you are representatives are, how to contact them, here’s a form letter for you to use:
I am writing to urge you to vote to support the Hearing Protection Act of 2017. The Hearing Protection Act will allow for firearm owners to purchase devices which will enable them to protect their hearing, mitigate noise to neighboring properties, and enable hunters to safely hunt without traditional hearing protect, all without the current, burdensome process that exists for the purchase of suppressors.
ATF Deputy Director Ronald Turk recently wrote that “their use to reduce noise at shooting ranges and applications within the sporting and hunting industry are now well recognized. At present, 42 states generally allow silencers to be used for sporting purposes.” He further opined that “the change in public acceptance of silencers arguably indicates that the reason for their inclusion in the NFA is archaic and historical reluctance to removing them from the NFA should be reevaluated.” Perhaps most importantly, Deputy Director Turk stated “Given the lack of criminality associated with silencers, it is reasonable to conclude that they should not be viewed as a threat to public safety necessitating NFA classification, and should be considered for reclassification under the GCA.”
To further the point, numerous countries in Europe require the use of suppressors to mitigate noise pollution. Isn’t it time we allow our citizens to be able to purchase a device which will protect their hearing and assist with noise abatement?
When it comes time to vote on the Hearing Protection Act, please consider the facts and vote yes to a bill that will allow for individuals to enjoy firearms in a safer manner.
Want to call as well? And you should! Here is a script to use:
Hello, my name is __________, and I’m calling today from _______ to urge Senator/Representative __________ to support the Hearing Protection Act. The federal government currently imposes a burdensome process for individuals to obtain suppressors, which are designed to protect an individual’s hearing and assist with noise abatement.
Other nations, with far more stringent gun laws, require the use of suppressors to mitigate noise caused by firearms. The health benefits of suppressors for an individual’s hearing alone should be enough for the Senator/Representative to support this legislation.
It is my hope they will consider my position on this bill when it comes time to vote and that they will vote yes.
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