The Hearing Protection Act and the Future of Firearms Policy in the United States
Benjamin Wilson ’20 – Inside Politics Participant
The Hearing Protection Act of 2017 – H.R. 367, introduced by Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC) and John Carter (R-TX) and supported by the NRA, is the newest form of pro-gun policy introduced in an effort to cut down on unnecessary tax stamps that are required to have access to firearms listed on the National Firearms Act. The H.R. 367 act mainly seeks to take suppressors off of the NFA listing in hopes that this will slowly remove more items listed on the NFA.
The ownership of firearm suppressors is legal within the United States. However, there is a lengthy six to nine month wait in which citizens participate in fingerprints, photographs, a background check, notifying your local law enforcement office, and a $200 tax stamp.
The Hearing Protection Act, if enacted, will effectively eliminate the $200 tax stamp and reduce the long wait required to get a tax stamp from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. H.R. 367 will require citizens to perform a NICS background check and an ATF form 4473, however, these procedures are relatively minimal and speed up the process significantly. The bill, in its current configuration, also refunds those tax stamps purchased while the legislation is pending.
Although it might seem like a breeze to enact this legislation due to the Trump administration’s pro-gun policy as well as having a Republican majority in congress, it will still be difficult to get the bill passed in the Senate due to the ability to filibuster. This would allow for debate on the bill and is the only way it would pass through 60 of the 100 Senators voting in favor of the bill. This is unlikely to pass in the case of filibuster due to only 52 Republican Senators in the Senate not the 60 they would need. However, it is still too early to say what will happen with this legislation in the future.
Regardless if H.R. 367 gets passed, it will still be a momentous bill which will get people talking about current firearm policy and the different ways it can be altered to keep freedom while still protecting the population. If the hearing protection does pass, however, the downfall of the NFA and other gun control policies may be next.
With a pro-gun Republican majority and a pro-gun White House, firearms policy will be a topic of heavy discussion for the next few years and there could be a huge change in the way firearms are regulated in the United States today.
The views and opinions expressed are the students and the organizations whom they represent and do not necessarily represent the views of The Eisenhower Institute or Gettysburg College.