On January 3, Representative Jeff Duncan (SC), an outgoing Co-Chair of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC) reintroduced the Hearing Protection Act (HPA) as H.R. 155.
Among the many CSC members signed on as original cosponsors is Representative Austin Scott (GA), an incoming Co-Chair of the CSC in the 116th Congress. The overall intent of the HPA remains to remove firearm suppressors from the purview of the National Firearms Act, while still providing a background check process, thereby improving access to these hearing safety devices for America’s sportsmen and women.
“The Hearing Protection Act is a commonsense bill that is important to all sportsmen and women across the country. Personally, I have experienced hearing damage from firearm noise, and I believe easier access to suppressors may have prevented much of this damage from early on in my life,” said Rep. Duncan. “Bottom line, this bill aims to fix this health issue that has already been addressed by many other countries. Now is the time to ensure sportsmen and women can have the safety and protection they need while hunting and shooting.”
However, it is not only America’s hunters and recreational shooters that would benefit from this legislation. State fish and wildlife agencies – the entities that are largely responsible for conserving fish and wildlife in this nation – would benefit as well. Included in the HPA is a clause that would add firearm suppressors to the list of taxable items (at 10%) under the Pittman-Robertson Act – one of the primary pillars of the American System of Conservation Funding (ASCF). The “user-pays, public-benefits” ASCF is a sportsmen and women driven model that provides the vast majority of funds that state fish and wildlife agencies utilize to carry out their critical conservation work. Expanding this funding model through the addition of suppressors will provide additional resources for these agencies that will result in real benefits for conservation throughout the nation.
Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?