What Happens When Suppressors Are No Longer NFA Items?
The Hearing Protection Act (HPA) is currently making its way through the U.S. Congress. If it passes, suppressors will move from NFA Class III items to the same regulatory category as long rifles. Purchasers will still have to pass a background check, but they will no longer have to pay for a $200 tax stamp or wait six to nine months for the ATF to process their paperwork.You betcha.
This got me thinking — what happens when President Trump signs the bill into law? What will happen to the suppressor industry and how will that affect gun owners?
To answer my questions I reached out to the American Suppressor Association and Owen Miller, their Director of Outreach.
Miller told me that the passage of the HPA will make suppressor sales rise exponentially. “The HPA will absolutely make the market explode,” he said. “I would expect that once the HPA passes you’ll see a spike in demand nearly overnight.”
The most important question, of course, is whether or not de-regulating suppressors will make them cheaper. Unfortunately, Miller didn’t seem to think so. The initial rise in demand might actually make suppressors more expensive for the first 12-18 months until manufacturers are able to catch up.Ruger makes a .22 LR suppressor with a suggested retail price of $449.
That being said, Miller did concede that de-regulating suppressors will allow more players to enter the market. Increased competition will, over time, lead to a wider range in the quality of suppressors available. A good quality suppressor might still cost $800 post-HPA, but customers will also be able to purchase a lower-quality version from another manufacturer for less money.
In any event, progressives will be apoplectic if this bill passes. They will be screaming, "Who needs a silencer? Only murderers!!!" In truth, suppressors protect hearing and promote safety:
Contrary to Hollywood’s depiction, suppressors aren’t primarily the tool of spies and assassins. They were included in the NFA as a “last-minute addition” because legislators were worried about poaching during the Great Depression.
They also don’t make guns completely silent. Even with a suppressor, firearms still run in the 130-140 decibel range, much too loud for the silent commission of crimes.
Like the HPA implies, suppressors are all about gun safety. Suppressors protect the hearing of hunters and shooters, and, Miller pointed out, allow hunters to maintain their situational awareness. Using suppressors, hunters are able to hunt without hearing protection, allowing them to communicate with other hunters as well as hear game. This keeps everyone safe in the field and allows for a more efficient hunt.