Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Tennessee Hearing Protection Act Passes Senate

Teddy Roosevelt's Silenced Winchester 94

A bill in the Tennessee Legislature to remove the ban on gun mufflers (silencers, suppressors) has passed the senate with an overwhelming vote, 28-1 on April 3rd, 2017. SB 921 is the companion to HB 0011 in the House. The bill simply  removes  the sections of Tennessee statutes that define and include "silencers" as prohibited weapons. Here is the summary of the bill. From
As introduced, enacts the "Tennessee Hearing Protection Act," which deletes the prohibition on possession, manufacture, transport, repair, or sale of a firearm silencer. - Amends TCA Section 39-17-1301 and Section 39-17-1302.
TCA Section 39-17-1301
(5) "Firearm silencer" means any device designed, made or adapted to muffle the report of a firearm;
 TCA Section 39-17- 1302
(5) A firearm silencer;
This is a very clean approach to reforming the law. It simply eliminates Tennessee law as it relates to gun mufflers, (silencers, suppressors). Silencers were legal in the United States from the time of their invention in 1902 until they were placed with machine guns and short barreled rifles and shotguns in the National Firearms Act (NFA) of 1934.

Currently, Tennessee has a portion of 39-17-1302 that allows people who have a silencer that is registered with the federal government under the NFA, to have an affirmative defense for their possession. The exception is listed in paragraph (7).
(7) Involved acquisition or possession of a sawed-off shotgun, sawed-off rifle, machine gun or firearm silencer that is validly registered to the person under federal law in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Records.  (remainder omitted)
The change in the law means that federal registration would no longer be required as part of state law. This potentially decouples the federal requirements from state law enforcement.

Update:  SB 291has been sent to the House, but no action has been taken there as of April 18. Now that tax season is past, we may see some movement. HB 0011, the House version of the bill is scheduled to be heard on 19 April in the Finance, Ways & Means subcommittee, with nine other bills, including HB 1176, a bill to reduce the penalties for carrying a handgun without a permit.  If HB 0011 does not pass out of the subcommittee, it is likely dead for the year. There is not a lot of time left in the legislative session in 2017.

Bills removing silencer bans have been quite popular in the states. 42 states no longer ban the ownership of silencers; 40 allow them to be used in hunting. According to the American Suppressor Association, 18 states have reformed firearms law to restore the right to own suppressors since 2011.

The eight states that still ban silencer ownership are California, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island.
Tennessee does not have much in common with the those eight, politically.

If SB291 makes it out of the subcommittee, it still has to pass the House and be signed by Governor Bill Haslam.  The bill has a fair chance of passage. If the Governor signs the bill into law, it will go into effect on 1 July, 2017.

©2017 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.

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