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senate Bill S. 202

SHUSH Act: Should Gun Silencers be Deregulated at the Federal Level?

Argument in favor

Silencers protect the hearing of hunters and recreational shooters, and this bill would make it easier for law-abiding people to access them while keeping background checks in place to prevent them from getting into the wrong hands.

Argument opposed

Federal deregulation of silencers would enrich the gun industry and make it easier for silencers to get in the wrong hands, thereby threatening public safety by making it difficult for first responders to identify active shooters.

bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The house has not voted
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on Finance
    IntroducedJanuary 24th, 2019

What is Senate Bill S. 202?

This bill — known as the SHUSH Act — would deregulate firearm suppressors (aka silencers) at the federal level by treating any person who acquires or possesses a silencer as meeting any federal registration or licensing requirements for that silencer. The $200 transfer tax on silencers would be repealed, and the bill would preempt state or local laws that tax the transfer of silencers. Additionally, it would allow qualified current and retired law enforcement personnel to carry a concealed firearm equipped with a silencer in accordance with state law.

Under current law, individuals are required to go through a registration process with the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) before acquiring a silencer which can take about nine months.

The bill’s full title is the Silencers Help Us Save Hearing (SHUSH) Act.

Impact

Individuals who would acquire and use a suppressor; companies that make suppressors; and state governments.

Cost of Senate Bill S. 202

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-Depth: Sponsoring Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) reintroduced this bill from the 115th Congress to eliminate federal suppressor regulations:

“Suppressors can make shooting safer for the millions of hunters and sportsmen that exercise their constitutional right to use firearms every year. The current process for obtaining a suppressor is far too expensive and burdensome. Our bill would remove these unnecessary federal regulations and make it easier for firearms users to protect themselves.”

Outdoor Life's John Haughey wrote approvingly of this bill in July 2017, when Sen. Lee introduced it in the 115th Congress: 

"In addition to proposing a bill that makes sense in the real world, the bill’s two Senate sponsors are clearly advocating on behalf of constituents’ financial interests—which is their job in a representative democracy, despite the conjuring of sinister overtones by gun control zealots."

When this bill was introduced in 2017, gun control groups such as Everytown for Gun Safety condemned it, arguing that "silencers pose a significant danger in the wrong hands": 

"Silencers pose a significant danger in the wrong hands, making it harder for bystanders or law enforcement to identify and react quickly to gunshots. In an active shooter situation, for example, hearing and recognizing a gunshot can be a matter of life and death. But radical legislation would repeal all federal laws on firearm silencers, making it legal for convicted felons, domestic abusers, and other people with dangerous histories to buy silencers. These core public safety laws have kept silencers out of criminal hands for decades, without blocking access for law—abiding citizens. The gun lobby presents this legislation as an attempt to protect shooters’ hearing, but silencers are not the most effective or the safest way to do so. Widely available ear protection products work better than silencers to protect hearing and safety — which is why the U.S. military relies on them, not on silencers, to protect soldiers’ hearing. Lawmakers should join law enforcement officers and major law enforcement organizations in rejecting the SHUSH Act and the gun lobby’s dangerous pursuit of profit over safety."

David Chipman, senior policy adviser for the Giffords Law Center for Prevent Gun Violence and a retired ATF special agents, argues that this bill is "reckless," and would make police officers' jobs more dangerous:

“The only people that benefit from this bill are gun lobbyists and criminals who want easier access to deadly weapons. That’s why this irresponsible legislation couldn’t get passed when Republicans had complete control of Congress. Instead of making it easier for firearms that could be used in ambushes and other attacks to enter our streets, Congress should focus on making the job of police officers who are trained to serve and protect our communities and families safer.”

There are five Senate cosponsors of this bill in the 116th Congress. A House version of this bill, introduced by Rep. Steve King (R-IA), has no cosponsors.

Last Congress, this legislation had the support of nine Republican cosponsors in the Senate and didn't receive a committee vote. The House version — introduced by Rep. King with the support of 21 Republican cosponsors — also didn't receive a committee vote.


Media:

Summary by Eric Revell

(Photo Credit: gsagi / iStock)

AKA

SHUSH Act

Official Title

A bill to provide that silencers be treated the same as firearms accessories.

    When people think of silencers, they automatically think of movies and the muffled "pew" noise they make. That's not what happens at all, it's a lot louder than you think and still sounds like a gun shot, it's just not as loud, and you really don't need hearing protection when you fire it. Although there is an exception with lower caliber guns that are more muffled than others (ex: .22 calibers). I guess a more simple example would be turning the bass almost all the way down on a song, you still hear it, but it does't have the same feel.
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    Suppressors are valuable TOOLS to prevent hearing loss! They do not silence a weapon like in the movies. Most suppressed guns are still in the mid 130 decibel range just below the level that causes permanent damage. It just protects hunters and recreational shooters from potential hearing loss.
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    No reason for them to be banned. Banning silencers violates the 2nd Amendment.
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    No reason a muffler should be treated as anything more than what it is. It does not silence, it muffles. Does anyone want to honestly try and claim that cars are silent because of their muffler? Of course they aren't, it is the exact same.
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