The House Committee on Natural Resources canceled a hearing after the shooting at a Congressional baseball practice on Wednesday for a bill that would make it easier for gun owners to purchase silencers. According to CNBC, however, the GOP still plans to follow through on its plans to ease gun restrictions.
The "Hearing Protection Act" introduced by Rep. Jeff Duncan R-S.C., in January was rolled into a larger bill called the "SHARE Act" that's been described as "broad and contains a variety of hunting, conservation and 'recreational shooting' measures," according to CNBC. The subcommittee was scheduled to hold a hearing on the provision in the bill that would roll back restrictions on silencers by "eliminating a $200 transfer tax and pre-empting state or local laws that regulate the accessory," according to Newsweek.
The measure has the support of President Donald Trump's son, Don Jr., and is backed with the help of the National Rifle Association.
Silencers are legal but regulated by an 83-year-old federal law, as well as on a state-by-state basis. Under the 1934 National Firearms Act (NFA), purchasers of certain shotguns and rifles, as well as machine guns and silencers, must apply with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosive; pay a $200 tax; submit a photograph and fingerprints; and pass a criminal background check. The entire application process can take months to complete. In 42 states, it’s legal to buy and possess gun silencers. The American Suppressor Association vows to legalize ownership in the eight remaining states.
The National Rifle Association has argued that the bill will its member protect their hearing.
"When I take my son out and teach him how to shoot, I’m supposed to try to make that gun as loud as possible? Or am I supposed to do everything I can to try to protect his hearing?" said Chris Cox, executive director of the NRA’s lobbying arm, according to USA Today.
The House canceled all of the votes scheduled for Wednesday, and it's not clear when the subcommittee is scheduled to hold a hearing on the provision. The Washington Post reported on Thursday that it has been rolled into a larger “'sportsmen’s package' and is expected to pass."