A report compiled twice per decade by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service shows increases nationally in wildlife watching and fishing, but declines in the number of hunters.
The survey, the 13th conducted by the USFWS since 1955, showed marked increases in the numbers of Americans engaged in observing and photographing wildlife and in fishing when compared to the 2011 data, but over the past decade, the number of hunters has dropped by more than 1 million– even as the general population is on the rise.
The number of National Firearm Act items saw a huge jump in the past year — including a 50 percent increase in suppressor registration and 39 percent bump in short-barreled rifles registered — according to new data released by federal regulators.
The report provides an overview of the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record, which is the federal list of all items, such as suppressors, SBRs, short-barreled shotguns, destructive devices and any other weapons logged under the NFA as of April, and updates figures released in February 2016.
In the 14-month period between reports, the total number of NFA items of all kinds has climbed to 5,203,489 — an overall increase of more than 800,000 items.
While the numbers of AOW’s, machine guns and SBSs all saw negligible increases, the biggest jumps in the 14-month interlude came in the numbers of registered SBRs and suppressors.
So you have no doubt heard me talk about the Hearing Protection Act which would eliminate the $200 transfer tax on suppressors by dropping them from NFA rules, but still requires they should be transferred through federal firearms licensees after a background check, regulating them as firearms.
It’s got a ton of sponsors in the House ( 150+, including some Dems) but is likely to stall in the Senate where it only has enough for a serious card game and needs 60.
Well, with that in mind, last week the SHUSH (Silencers Helping Us Save Hearing) Act dropped which would not only remove suppressors from National Firearms Act requirements — a goal of the rival Hearing Protection Act — but also classify them as simple accessories which could be sold over the counter, just like magazines, or butt stocks, or just scopes. It seems odd after more than 80 years of NFA regulation, but that’s how they are sold in the UK and several other countries with gun laws more strict than ours.
Gun control groups don’t know whether to shit or go blind, saying every crook and killer in the future will have a hushable gatt– but in all honesty, you can make an illegal suppressor today from common household items anyway and they are rarely (ATF says ~30 cases in 2015) used in crime, so I’m not sure how factual that argument holds.
Cutaway of the Maxim Model 15 “silencer” on a 1903 mockup.
Since 1934, the federal government has treated devices designed to muffle or suppress the report of firearms as Title II devices that required registration under the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record and mandated transfers that included a $200 tax stamp. The HPA would repeal this requirement and treat suppressors as firearms – which would allow them to be transferred through regular federal firearms license holders to anyone not prohibited from possessing them after the buyer passes an FBI instant background check.
We spoke with industry insiders about the Hearing Protection Act on the eve of the 146th National Rifle Association Annual Meetings and Exhibits in Atlanta last week, who argued the measure has a fighting chance.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives has split its National Firearms Act branch into a separate division in hopes of providing more oversight and efficiency.
The new NFA Division will consist of an Industry Processing Branch, focusing on processing forms from the private sector, and a Government Support Branch centered on law enforcement.
The IPB will see the regulatory body dedicate an entire branch to handling the processing of consumer-directed documents including Form 1 and Form 4 applications for the making and transfer of NFA items such as suppressors, and short-barreled rifles and shotguns.
But what does this mean? I talked to the experts to find out…
A bill that would remove suppressors and silencers from National Firearm Act regulations is picking up momentum on Capitol Hill.
The Duncan-Carter Hearing Protection Act was introduced by GOP sponsors U.S. Rep. Jeff Duncan of South Carolina and Rep. John Carter of Texas last month and aims to deregulate suppressors as a safety measure to help promote their use in protecting hearing. Enrolled as H.R. 367, the measure picked up its 100th co-sponsor last week.
SD Tactical Arms of Prescott, Arizona announced on social media last week they are no longer able to sell their popular line of “solvent traps,” which made up their bulk of their business, as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives advised they could be interpreted as being unregistered suppressor parts.
“As of today the ATF shut down our business of selling solvent traps,” noted SD. “This is 99% of our income. They have put 3 Veterans, my wife and son out of work. They said I can’t sell freeze plugs. NAPA can’t even sell them to us because they are a suppressor part. They said all I can sell is complete suppressors.”
With the possible removal of silencers/suppressors from National Firearms Act control, a number of legal questions around the devices emerge.
The current mechanism for change, H.R.3799 — the Hearing Protection Act — is stuck in the U.S. House but would likely see a stronger reboot in the next Congress in 2017. If a new bill gains enough momentum to make it through Capitol Hill and onto the waiting desk of President Trump, it would leave a few things undecided if signed into law with its current language.
I spoke with Adam Kraut, an attorney specializing in Second Amendment rights and NFA issues in particular, about just what could be in store.
Firing the 03 Springfield with the Maxim silencer, 1910. From left to right Hiram Maxim, Lieut. Col. Richard J. Goodman, and Capt. Earl D Church
A Republican trifecta in Washington next year will likely see action on a bill to remove firearm suppressors from National Firearms Act regulation after 82 years.
The Hearing Protection Act was introduced last October by U.S. Rep. Matt Salmon, R-Ariz., and currently has 78 bipartisan co-sponsors from 34 states. Since then, the HPA has been among the top 10 most-viewed bills on Congress.gov almost every week since it was introduced.
However, with a slim Republican majority in the Senate unable to override a near-certain veto from President Obama, the bill has been in doldrums.
Now, with the White House under new management next year, advocates for the measure feel signs are looking up and will likely return to the next Congress with a fresh mandate.
“Imagine for a second that we lived in a world where you had to pay a $200 tax to buy a pair of earplugs,” Knox Williams, president of the American Suppressor Association, the industry trade group for the devices, told me on Wednesday. “Now, imagine that even after paying that tax you still had to wait 8 months before you could bring your earplugs home with you. As silly as that sounds, it’s the world we live in with suppressors in the NFA.”
At SHOT Show this year I had a chance to throw some knives and hawks on range day and did so like shit. They were SOGs and, while I can make the excuse I wasn’t used to them and prefer my own edged weapons which I do throw much better, I still did miserably.
However, I also did it right behind Josh Waldron, the co-founder and CEO of SilencerCo, the company that is like the Glock of suppressors. How big are they? They ship 10,000 cans a month, which is more than most suppressor makers ship in a year.
I had a chance last week to catch back to up him without the tomahawks and talk about various states dropping prohibitions against private suppressor ownership (42 states now allow it), hunting with suppressors (39 now allow it, up from 22 in 2011), potential deregulation of suppressors from NFA requirements via the Hearing Protection Act, and the impact that ATF 41F is going to have on trusts and CLEO requirements.
“We’re trying to make guns sexy again because they always really have been in this country,” Waldron said. “It’s been part of the fabric of the culture here but we want to make sure that that continues and so we’re trying to revive that.”