Talking Points Booklet: Suppressor Freedom
Currently, to own a suppressor, you must comply with an onerous set of Federal rules and regulations that include a $200 tax stamp and a lengthy wait – sometimes over a year. Also, separately, the State of Texas criminalizes owning a suppressor outside of those regulations.
Texans should be able to manufacture, sell, possess, and use firearm suppressors without having to jump through government registration hoops and pay a tax. Although we are fighting at the Federal level to ultimately repeal the burdensome regulations on suppressors, in the meantime, Texas can act. Texas should repeal the state law that requires suppressor owners and manufacturers to comply with all Federal laws. Instead, the state should statutorily exempt suppressors that are manufactured in Texas and remain within Texas from all Federal laws and regulations. The state should also defend any Texan who falls under the exemption in Texas law.
How We Talk About This
What is a suppressor?
- A traditional firearm suppressor fits onto the end of a firearm and functions a lot like a muffler on a car or a dirt bike.
- Suppressors are a safety tool. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) even recommends that people use a suppressor for safety reasons.
How loud is a suppressed gunshot?
- A suppressor does not silence a gun. It merely muffles the sound of a gun enough to reduce the risk of permanent hearing damage.
- Without a suppressor, an average gunshot is around 160 decibels, and even one shot can cause permanent hearing damage. Adding a suppressor brings the decibel level down to the mid-130’s, which is just under the occupational hazard limit of 140 decibels set by the CDC.
- Internationally, even in countries with severe regulations on gun ownership, suppressors are not regulated. In fact, many of them consider it rude to shoot without a suppressor.
Who uses suppressors?
- We don’t see much evidence of criminals using suppressors. Why would a criminal want to go to the trouble of adding something to a gun that’s makes it bigger, heavier, less concealable, and only reduces the sound about 30 decibels?
- So, who does use suppressors? People who shoot guns and don’t want to end up with hearing loss. Hunters, so they can communicate more easily with others around them. Recreational shooters, to avoid being a nuisance for the surrounding area.
- Suppressors particularly help children to shoot more safely by protecting their hearing, reducing the recoil, and making the firearm overall easier to control.
Can Texas legally do this?
Under the bills listed below, a Texas individual or business who wanted to create “Made in Texas” suppressors would not have to risk prosecution to pursue a court judgment upholding this law.
- This bill is distinct from similar laws in other states (g., Kansas, Montana) because it gives a way for someone to secure a declaratory judgment – that is, a court judgment before the person manufactures such items – upholding this law.
- Because we are in Texas, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals would hear an appeal on the declaratory judgment, and then the parties could ask the United States Supreme Court to hear a further appeal.
- The Fifth Circuit has not yet issued a ruling on a case like this. Other cases have come through the more liberal Ninth and Tenth circuit courts, which have repeatedly failed to uphold 2nd Amendment rights.
- The last time the Supreme Court had the opportunity to hear a similar case, it refused to hear the case – as it has with many Second Amendment cases. However, the Supreme Court makeup has changed since that time and now includes additional justices who are more likely to uphold gun rights and general liberties.
This bill is distinct from laws in other states (e.g., Kansas, Montana) because it gives a way for someone to secure a court judgment that upholds this law before the person manufactures such items.
See also the section on Protection from Federal Infringement.
SUPPORT: HB 957 by Rep. Oliverson & SB 543 by Sen. Springer would declare that firearm suppressors manufactured in Texas from Texas parts, and sold in Texas (“Made in Texas” suppressors), are not subject to Federal regulations.
- The bills would repeal the Texas law requirement to follow Federal law on suppressors and prohibit state entities and personnel from enforcing Federal suppressor regulations.
- A person who wishes to manufacture “Made in Texas” suppressors can let the Texas Attorney General know his or her intentions, and then the AG must seek a declaratory judgment from a court on the Constitutionality of this law. (See “Can Texas legally do this?”, above.)
See our updated bill list at txgoa.us/87r.