Gun rights activists are buzzing as they eye potential changes in the strict laws that govern the ownership of silencers in the wake of the 2016 election.
"I'm very excited," Knox Williams, president of the American Suppressor Association (ASA), said. "Honestly, I can't wait to start getting after it."
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Sources from within the leading gun rights organizations have pegged reform of silencer laws in their top three priorities, alongside the appointment of a pro-gun Supreme Court justice and a national gun carry reciprocity law. The current silencer legislation, the Hearing Protection Act has received significant support, but has yet to make it through Congress.
That bill would remove silencers from the purview of the National Firearms Act of 1934, the law that also regulates fully-automatic firearms. Currently, anyone who wants to purchase a silencer must pay a $200 tax stamp and wait several months for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives to process the required registration forms. It's a process firearms enthusiasts have long complained is more complex than buying an actual firearm and restricts an item they see as safety equipment.
"They make hunting and shooting safer," SilencerCo CEO Joshua Waldron told the Washington Free Beacon in March. "That’s an issue that everybody can get behind on both sides of the table."
Williams said the ASA plans to reintroduce the Hearing Protection Act in the next Congress. Right now the group is working to nail down sponsors for the bill in both the House of Representatives and the Senate.
"There's a lot of unknowns," he said. "Trump's going to need to go through and pick out his cabinet. Once that happens we're going to have a lot more of an ability to forecast. I know that we've got a lot of support and I anticipate us getting a lot more support especially since there's no longer the backdrop of ‘well, the president is going to veto it anyways so why are we wasting our time?'"
He said ASA plans to reach out to members from both sides of the aisle. "Our primary goal right now is to get folks in both chambers from both sides of the aisle." Williams said. "On the state level we have a tremendous amount of bipartisan support. "
He pointed to recent legislation in New Hampshire that legalized hunting with silencers, the 40th state to do so, as an example of bipartisan success. That bill passed with unanimous support in the Senate. He hopes the Hearing Protection Act can achieve similar bipartisan support.
Williams said his confidence level that the HPA would be passed in the next Congress is "pretty high."
"Will it happen in the first hundred days? Who knows," he said. "That's what we're going for. We're trying to get it done as quick as possible."
He cautioned that it may take longer than many people anticipate because of the many other agenda items President-elect Trump is likely to pursue, including a Supreme Court nomination.