Politics

Here's the First Gun Law the Trump Administration Might Support

January 8th 2017

By:
Willie Burnley Jr.

The gun industry has profited for years from baseless arguments that President Barack Obama wanted to disarm gun owners and curtail gun ownership protections of the Second Amendment. So gun lobbyists are undoubtedly happy to have an incoming president in Donald Trump who has expressed pro-NRA positions.

They may exploit that to again push for passage of a controverial federal law that would lift restrictions on silencers (otherwise known as sound suppressors), which has so far failed to gain traction.

The so-called Hearing Protection Act, which is backed by Republican legislators, was first proposed in 2015 and would make it easier for hunters and other gun owners to buy silencers under the argument that they would protect the hearing of users (and would not be more likely to be used in crimes).

The president-elect's son, Donald Trump Jr., has been a vocal proponent of easing the sale of silencers. Trump Jr. has characterized the measure as a public health issue, echoing the arguments of other proponents, who include the National Shooting Sports Foundation, Gun Owners of America, and the American Suppressor Association.

Silencers are currently legal in 42 states.

But the process of buying one is lengthy and involves a rigorous background check that could take up to nine months to complete and requires a $200 application fee to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Gun rights advocates argue that the process is unnecessarily and possibly unconstitutionally arduous. They say that silencers are needed to protect gun owners’ hearing.

Gun control advocates oppose the law, arguing that loosening restrictions on silencers would make it easier for them to fall into the hands of criminals.

The Hearing Protection Act would waive the ATF fee and allow anyone who has passed a standard gun background check to buy a silencer without a long wait.

The law has yet to be resubmitted by a member of Congress. But proponents have a good chance of success, given the Republican-controlled Congress and a sympathetic president.