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Despite New Law, Silencers Are Still Subject To Federal Regulation

Posted on in Criminal Defense

texas defense lawyerGun rights advocates are celebrating the new law set to go into effect in September that removes firearm silencers from the list of items prohibited by the state, but there are a few things you should know before you run out and try to buy one. 

The new law, dubbed House Bill 957, deregulates sound suppressors made in Texas from federal law as long as they stay in Texas. However, you can only buy silencers from a licensed dealer. Under federal gun law, gun dealers -- and subsequently you -- still have to comply with the lengthy federal process. 

House Bill 957

The Texas governor signed HB 957 into law in June alongside a number of other gun bills designed to loosen restrictions on firearm ownership. These include measures like making Texas a Constitutional Carry state, meaning any law-abiding Texan can carry a gun without a license, and another declaring Texas a Second Amendment sanctuary, which prohibits state officials from enforcing future federal gun laws. 

Most lawmakers who supported HB 957 believe silencers should be treated like safety devices because they greatly reduce the sound of a gunshot. In turn, the reduced decibel level would protect sportsmen from developing hearing loss. However, silencers are still regulated by federal law. 

In response to the passage, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives issued a guidance letter explaining how Texas gun dealers can comply with the new state law. According to the ATF, federal law supersedes state law when it comes to the sale of silencers. “All provisions of the Gun Control Act and the National Firearms Act (NFA) … continue to apply to FFLs and other persons in Texas,” the ATF letter said. 

Federal Law

Under federal law, silencers are listed as an NFA item alongside machine guns and short-barrelled rifles or shotguns. To buy one, you have to undergo a number of checks, pay a $200 tax, and register the item. Federal lawmakers passed the measure in the 1930s as a response to Prohibition Era violence, and then they updated it in the late 1960s after a number of high-profile assassinations like President Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King. 

Contact a Collin County Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you are facing a state or federal gun charge, contact a Texas criminal defense lawyer. With a proven track record of success, the attorneys at Biederman & Burleson P.L.L.C. know how to deliver quality legal services. Call them today at 469-333-3333 for a free consultation. 

 

Sources: 

https://capitol.texas.gov/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=87R&Bill=HB957

https://www.atf.gov/firearms/docs/open-letter/texas-open-letter-hb-957/download

https://gov.texas.gov/news/post/governor-abbott-signs-second-amendment-legislation-into-law-2021

https://www.wsj.com/articles/texas-firearms-bill-revives-gun-rights-strategy-rejected-by-u-s-courts-in-past-11623954667

 

 

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