How the Hearing Protection Act is Hurting the Silencer Industry
Jon Stokes 02.03.17
Wait, what’s that, you say? Isn’t the Hearing Protection Act (HPA), which aims to remove suppressors entirely from the purview of the NFA and make them freely and easily available to all, a goldmine for suppressor makers?
Well, it will be a gold mine one day, but right now it’s causing a world of hurt, at least according to this really great, in-depth Recoil piece.
Basically, users are waiting on the HPA’s passage to buy silencers, and given that the bill hasn’t even passed out of committee, yet, they may be waiting a long time. Meanwhile, while they’re waiting and sitting on their money, suppressor makers have bills to pay and inventory that won’t move.
The piece reports that Silencerco is rumored to be laying off a number of employees, soon. This is sad, but in many ways the company has shot itself self in the foot, so to speak. Silencerco has been the main force behind raising consumer awareness of the HPA and making everyone think it’s a done deal, and that now backfiring on them.
What is most certainly too soon is the unfortunate assumption by tens of thousands of potential customers that HPA is as good as done. Kraut points out “the ASA and Silencerco may have broadcasted too loudly that ‘the chances of the bill passing have increased because the President is on our side’. But even if Congress was overwhelmingly Republican, there are far wider impacting issues to the majority of public gun owners than gun suppressors. I would think more people would be affected by National Carry Reciprocity than silencers.”
“Instead of presenting it as ‘we have an opportunity to make this law, and we need your help in the process,’ Silencerco came across as ‘it’s a done deal,’ Kraut said.
“It’s still going to take work to get it to the floor for a vote,” continues Kraut. “The way the Senate is made up there’s 52 Republicans and 2 independents, so there’s not a 60 vote or supermajority, and political goodwill might not be expended to push something niche like silencers across. The bill still needs to get out of committee, and that’s where people’s help is needed – calling specific members asking to get it out of committee and on the floor for a vote. Because if it’s stuck in committee it’ll die again – the most common death of a bill.”
The conventional wisdom coming from those that know how laws are made, especially gun laws, is that counting on HPA to pass before buying what they want is a recipe for a very long wait. “Anybody who is waiting for the HPA to pass to buy a suppressor is going to be waiting a very long time,” says Todd Rathner, Chairman of the NFA Freedom Alliance and NRA Board Member. “The reality is that we still need 60 votes in the US Senate to pass a bill, and it’s a big question as to whether those votes are there or not. People should take a deep breath, and if you want a silencer BUY ONE! Waiting on the HPA makes no sense.”
So there you have it. If you want to buy a suppressor, now is a great time. Inventories are high, and prices are low, and sellers are hurting. It’s a buyer’s market, for sure.
If you wait on the HPA, you may actually end up waiting longer than if you had just sucked it up and gotten the stamp. And when the HPA does finally pass, there will be a massive run on these devices, so good luck getting one. I also expect inventories to be super tight, because of the aforementioned layoffs and cuts in production capacity that suppressor makers are implementing right now to help them survive until the HPA passes.