US Representative Matt Salmon of Arizona introduced H.R. 3799 that would remove suppressors from the list of firearms controlled by the National Firearms Act. Under the proposed bill suppressors would remain firearms and be subject to all restrictions and controls currently in place on firearms such as handguns. So should we rejoice?
Removing suppressors from the purview of the NFA would certainly make life easier for many people. Suppressors will become cheaper and easier and faster to obtain. We can expect to see their use increase, and shooting in densely populated areas would become much more practical. Ranges, in general, could be less noisy.
The bill also includes a sort of ‘grandfather clause.’ If you file a Form 4 and pay a transfer tax after October 22, 2015, the ATF would have to refund the tax upon the passage of the bill. So waiting will not save you money, though it may save you paperwork. (Or you may wait indefinitely: see below.) This clause is a nod to the suppressor industry to prevent potential buyers from closing their wallets and waiting for Congress to act.
Congress does not act fast, and Obama will veto any naked pro gun legislation. This bill would have to be part of an amendment to must-pass legislation, such as the debt ceiling extension the Republican controlled Congress pushed through in late October with the help of Democrats. The future of this bill is very much like National Reciprocity for Concealed Carry.
National Reciprocity, in its current form, appeared on the political scenes in 2009. While a majority of both chambers of Congress support the law, passage has always been a couple of votes shy. With the threat of a veto, this idea has idled away in Congress for six years, and passage still appears a few years out. (Pending the 2016 elections you could say.)
With the Republican establishment refusing to attach controversial legislation to must-pass funding bills, and President Obama’s desire for gun control and further restrictions on the right to bear arms; the chances for such pro-gun reforms to become new law is slim.
The introduction of this bill is good news for gun owners, but this is likely just the beginning of what could be a decade long fight. Much of the Democratic party is dead set against lessening gun laws, and attempts to pass any such bills under the current administration invites anti-gun amendments and / or vetoes. I personally welcome the lessening restrictions, however, I advise those wanting silencers to not wait for Congress to act. Chances are good you’ll put a couple thousand rounds through your suppressor before we know the outcome of this legislative game of tug-o-war!