WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and 14 of her Senate colleagues this week reintroduced the Hearing Protection Act (HPA). The legislation would reclassify suppressors to regulate them like a regular firearm, benefitting recreational gun users and sportsmen and women by providing better access to hearing protection equipment. 

“I am proud to defend the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding West Virginians and support sportsmen and women across our state,” Senator Capito said. “This legislation would remove the federal transfer process, including the expensive transfer tax levied on purchasers, and replace it with the instantaneous NICS background check system. This commonsense change would cut red tape and provide West Virginia’s recreational gun users increased access to needed hearing protection equipment.”


On average, suppressors diminish the noise of a gunshot by 20-35 decibels, roughly the same sound reduction provided by earplugs or earmuffs. By further comparison, the most effective suppressors on the market can only reduce the peak sound level of a gunshot to around 110-120 decibels. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, that is as loud as a jackhammer (110 dB) or an ambulance siren (120 dB). Currently regulated under the National Firearms Act (NFA), suppressors are subject to additional regulatory burdens. 

The HPA would:

  • Reclassify suppressors to regulate them like traditional firearms.
  • Remove suppressors from regulation under the NFA.
  • Replace the overly-burdensome federal transfer process with an instantaneous National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) background check, making the purchasing and transfer process for suppressors equal to that as for a rifle or shotgun.
  • Tax suppressors under the Pittman-Robertson Act instead of the NFA, putting more funding into state wildlife conservation agencies.  

The HPA would not change any laws in states that already prevent suppressors, nor does it get rid of the requirement for a background check. 

The Hearing Protection Act is supported by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the American Suppressor Association, Gun Owners of America, and the National Rifle Association.


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