Politics

Boozman, Cotton, Colleagues Lead Effort to Enhance Access to Hearing Protection Equipment for Arkansas’s Sportsmen

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senators John Boozman (R-AR) and Tom Cotton (R-AR) have joined Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID) in reintroducing the Hearing Protection Act (HPA), legislation that would regulate suppressors like a regular firearm and provide better access to them in order to protect the hearing of hunters and recreational shooting sports enthusiasts.

“Making it easier to protect hunters’ and shooting sportsmen’s hearing is a commonsense course of action,” Boozman said. “These law-abiding citizens want to use their firearms in as safe and enjoyable a way as possible, and I’m proud to join my colleagues to help cut red tape and increase their access to suppressors.”

“Burdensome regulations on firearm suppressors are doing more harm than good to sportsmen and women. Our legislation will ensure law-abiding gun owners can easily access hearing protection without having to navigate bureaucratic red tape or exorbitant taxes,” Cotton said.

“Law abiding Americans enjoying the recreational freedoms provided under the Second Amendment should not have to wade through overly-burdensome regulations in order to protect their hearing,” Crapo said. “The common Hollywood-portrayed misconceptions about suppressors are not grounded in factual science, and create unnecessary burdens on responsible gun owners. The Hearing Protection Act will benefit Idaho’s sportswomen and men by ensuring they have adequate hearing protection needed while hunting and participating in other recreational shooting sports.”

The measure is also supported by the American Suppressor Association, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, Gun Owners of America and the National Rifle Association.

“The scientific consensus is in: suppressors help protect hearing. That’s why the CDC, NIOSH, and the National Hearing Conservation Association all recommend suppressors as a tool to help mitigate preventable hearing damage. If enacted, the Hearing Protection Act would have a more profound impact on hearing safety than any other legislation in decades. It’s time for the Senate to follow Senator Crapo’s leadership, listen to the experts at the CDC, and pass this common sense legislation,” said Knox Williams, President and Executive Director of the American Suppressor Association.

“The Hearing Protection Act would reduce unnecessary barriers to what is essentially a muffler for a firearm that enables more accurate marksmanship and allows shooting ranges to be better neighbors. Suppressors were originally listed under the National Firearms Act over poaching concerns during the Great Depression, but that never bore out. They reduce the report of a firearm from a level equal to a jet taking off to one similar to that of a jackhammer. Firearm suppressors are a safety device designed to make recreational shooting safer,” said Senior Vice President and General Counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, Lawrence Keane.

Other original co-sponsors of the legislation include Senators Jim Risch (R-ID), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Jerry Moran (R-KS), John Cornyn (R-TX), Roger Marshall (R-KS), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), James Lankford (R-OK), Mike Braun (R-IN), Tim Scott (R-SC), Jim Inhofe (R-OK) and Thom Tillis (R-NC).

Background:

On average, suppressors diminish the noise of a gunshot by 20-35 decibels, roughly the same sound reduction provided by earplugs or earmuffs. By further comparison, the most effective suppressors on the market can only reduce the peak sound level of a gunshot to around 110-120 decibels. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, that is as loud as a jackhammer (110 dB) or an ambulance siren (120 dB). Currently regulated under the National Firearms Act (NFA), suppressors are subject to additional regulatory burdens. 

The HPA would:

• Reclassify suppressors to regulate them like traditional firearms;

• Remove suppressors from regulation under the NFA;

• Replace the overly-burdensome federal transfer process with an instantaneous National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) background check, making the purchasing and transfer process for suppressors equal to the process for a rifle or shotgun; and

• Tax suppressors under the Pittman-Robertson Act instead of the NFA, putting more funding into state wildlife conservation agencies.

The HPA would not change any laws in states that already prevent suppressors, nor does it get rid of the requirement for a background check. 

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