In the never-ending battle of anti-gun legislation, Texas is making some major moves when it comes to suppressor regulations — and they all hinge upon Texas silencers.
Currently, in order to own a suppressor without having a felony slapped on you and getting major jail time, you must comply with the National Firearms Act of 1934 (NFA). Would-be suppressor buyers must go through the typically long and arduous process of asking permission from the ATF and passing a BATFE background check. Though the processing time for this varies, it’s often as much as 8-10 months or more.
There there is the tax. Once the wait is over, you are then required to pay a $200 transfer tax. Oh, and you also have to live in one of the 42 states that allow ownership of suppressors. If your legal residence is in California, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, or the District of Colombia, well…you’re just out of luck.
These laws have, obviously, always applied to Texas silencers as much as those of any other state.
Texas Silencer Laws
For Texans, this may all get a little easier when House Bill (HB) 957 comes into play. This fun little bill would not-so-quietly squash the current federal suppressor laws by asserting that suppressors mad in Texas are no longer subject to federal regulation. It will do so by using the commerce clause of the U.S.Constitution.
The code will go into effect on September 1, 2021.
Now, this doesn’t mean that you can just fire up the ol’ lathe and get going. Cases will be handled at the individual level. Private Citizens will have to file a complaint with the attorney general that a government body is taking action to enforce federal suppressor laws on you. In that case, the AT would seek a declaratory judgment from a federal district court that these provisions are not in conflict with the U.S. Constitution.
Texan Rep Tom Oliverson
The man who made this possible? State Representative and Physician in Anesthesiology, Tom Oliverson ( R-Cypress). The good Doctor not only presented and argued for this law in terms of legality but also from a medical standpoint.
With hearing loss and tinnitus being all too common amongst hunters and recreational shooters, he was able to present his case and show just how effective the use of a suppressor can be in terms of protecting against such ailments.
The Texas Senate passed HB 957 on a vote, 18 to 13. The House passed it 95 to 51 and — shockingly enough – it even had some bipartisan support from about 14 Democrats!
Now, a cautionary note worth repeating here:
“…the bill provides a path to secure a declaratory judgment on the constitutionality of this law before someone manufactures ‘Made in Texas’ suppressors.
That last part is really important. Before you run out and make yourself a can out of an oil filter and then post it on Instabook for all the world to see, STOP. If signed into law, this is still going to have to go through the federal courts.”
Dan Zimmerman, The Truth About Guns
You can read more about Texas silencers online at The Texan News, at InternationalSportsman.com, or via Texas Score Cart. The American Suppressor Association (ASA) always has updates about pending (silencer-related) NFA legislation as well.
Lone Star Silencers
There are a number of silencer manufacturers located in the State of Texas. Some of those include:
|BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE
It is currently an offense to possess, manufacture, transport, repair, or sell a firearm silencer unless a person is in compliance with federal law. It has been suggested that this is an unnecessary regulation that infringes on the rights of Texans and that the State of Texas should also not assist the federal government in enforcing laws and regulations restricting Texans’ access to firearm suppressors if they are wholly manufactured and sold in Texas. H.B. 957 seeks to address this issue by removing the aforementioned offense and establishing that a firearm suppressor that is manufactured and remains in Texas is not subject to federal law or regulation under the authority of the U.S. Congress to regulate interstate commerce.
|CRIMINAL JUSTICE IMPACT
It is the committee’s opinion that this bill does not expressly create a criminal offense, increase the punishment for an existing criminal offense or category of offenses, or change the eligibility of a person for community supervision, parole, or mandatory supervision.
It is the committee’s opinion that this bill does not expressly grant any additional rulemaking authority to a state officer, department, agency, or institution.
H.B. 957 amends the Penal Code to remove a firearm silencer from among the prohibited weapons whose intentional or knowing possession, manufacture, transport, repair, or sale constitutes an offense. The bill establishes that a criminal action for such an offense involving a firearm silencer that is pending on the bill’s effective date is dismissed on that date.
H.B. 957 amends the Government Code to establish the following regarding firearm suppressors that are manufactured on or after the bill’s effective date:
· a firearm suppressor that is manufactured in and remains in Texas is not subject to federal law or federal regulation, including registration, under the authority of the U.S. Congress to regulate interstate commerce; and
· a basic material from which a firearm suppressor is manufactured in Texas, including unmachined steel, is not a firearm suppressor and is not subject to federal regulation under that Congressional authority as if it actually were a firearm suppressor.
The bill requires the attorney general, on written notification by a U.S. citizen residing in Texas of the citizen’s intent to manufacture an applicable firearm suppressor, to seek a declaratory judgment from a federal district court in Texas that these provisions are consistent with the U.S. Constitution. The bill sets out the circumstances under which a firearm suppressor is considered to be manufactured in Texas and requires a firearm suppressor manufactured and sold in Texas to have the words “Made in Texas” clearly stamped on it.
H.B. 957 prohibits the state, specified state or local entities, or an officer, employee, or body of certain local entities from adopting a rule, order, ordinance, or policy under which the entity enforces or by consistent action allows the enforcement of a federal statute, order, rule, or regulation that purports to regulate a firearm suppressor and that imposes a regulation that does not exist under state law. The bill prohibits any applicable entity and any person employed by or otherwise under the entity’s direction or control from enforcing or attempting to enforce any such federal statute, order, rule, or regulation. The bill prohibits an entity that adopts a prohibited rule, order, ordinance, or policy from receiving state grant funds and requires such funds to be denied to the entity for the fiscal year following the year in which the entity’s adoption of the rule, order, ordinance, or policy is finally judicially determined to have violated the bill’s prohibition.
H.B. 957 authorizes any citizen residing in an applicable entity’s jurisdiction to file a complaint with the attorney general if the citizen offers and includes with the complaint evidence to support an allegation that the entity has adopted a prohibited rule, order, ordinance, or policy or that the entity consistently allows the enforcement of an applicable federal law. The bill authorizes the attorney general, on determining the complaint is valid, to file a petition for a writ of mandamus or apply for other appropriate equitable relief in a specified district court to compel the entity’s compliance with the bill’s provisions. The bill provides for the attorney general’s recovery of reasonable expenses. The bill establishes that an appeal of a suit brought to enforce the bill’s provisions is governed by certain accelerated appeals procedures and requires the appellate court to render its final order or judgment with the least possible delay.
H.B. 957 repeals Section 46.01(4), Penal Code.
September 1, 2021.
A daughter of the PNW and engineering administration maven, Samantha Fischer is an often-underestimated pro-Second Amendment rabble-rouser – who, despite her proficiency with assorted modern long guns, actually prefers a Henry Color Case Hardened Lever Action Side Gate in .45-70 to an AR15…though she is quite attached to her AI L96A1 as well. Sam reports on an eclectic (occasionally esoteric) range of topics, here on The Mag Life and other places.