The deadliest mass shooting in modern American history has stalled a Republican proposal that would make it easier to buy gun suppressors.
The bill’s author, Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.), had said a vote on the Hearing Protection Act, wrapped into the broader Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) Act, would happen soon.
But that timeline changed after a gunman opened fire on a concert from a hotel window in Las Vegas last Sunday night, killing dozens of people and injuring hundreds more.
Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) told reporters on Tuesday that he doesn’t know when the legislation will be scheduled for a floor vote.
It’s the second time the bill has been delayed by a mass shooting.
The day the House Natural Resources subcommittee was expected to hold a hearing on the bill in June, a gunman opened fire on Republican lawmakers who were practicing for a charity baseball game in Alexandria, Va.
The bill eventually made it before the full committee for a hearing on Sept. 12. It advanced the following day by a vote of 22-13.
Here are five things to know about the bill.
It makes buying a suppressor easier
The legislation removes suppressors from the purview of the National Firearms Act (NFA) and allows a buyer to undergo an instant background check at a gun store through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.
The legislation also does away with the $200 transfer tax fee that’s now required on top of the price of the suppressor.
The broader sporting bill the Hearing Protection Act has been attached to expands access to hunting on federal lands, allows for the lawful import of any firearm or ammunition not already regulated by the NFA and prevents the government from reclassifying popular bullets used in hunting rifles as “armor-piercing” ammunition.
Buying a suppressor now takes months
After selecting a suppressor, a buyer has to fill out an application and registration form, known as a Form 4, at a gun store.
In addition to the form, which asks for your name, address and Social Security number, buyers have to provide two FBI fingerprint forms, a passport style photo and their $200 transfer tax. Two copies of the form are submitted to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF) and a third is sent to the local chief law enforcement officer to notify them that you’ve purchased an NFA item.
Most shops also ask for an up-front payment for the suppressor, which can run anywhere from a few hundred dollars to over $1,000, depending on the quality and type of gun it’s for.
Robert Marcus, co-owner of Bob’s Gun Shop in Norfolk, Va., said that under the Obama administration it was taking anywhere from four months to a year for the ATF to approve an application.
“At four months we were selling about 150 a year,” he said. “At 12 months, it’s less. I’d say it’s been cut by almost a third.”
A suppressor can only muffle a gun’s sound
Knox Williams, president and executive director of the American Suppressor Association (ASA), describes a suppressor as a muffler for a firearm.
“The exact same science behind a car muffler is at work,” he said. “It’s allowing the hot gases being expelled to slowly cool in a more controlled environment.”
Think of the sound an…