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The American Suppressor Association is Working to Legalize and Deregulate Cans For You and Me

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The American Suppressor Association is a gun rights org that you may not be aware of. Unlike more well-known three- and four-letter operations (think: NRA, SAF, FPC, GOA, NAGR), they have a more focused niche. They’re out there working on the federal, state and local levels to ease the restrictions on the ownership and use of — you guessed it — suppressors.

Case in point: in February, the ASA filed suit in Illinois challenging the state’s ban on silencers. You know…those common sense hearing protection devices that are heavily regulated and taxed by the federal government. These are basic safety devices that every gun owner should be able to pick up at their local gun store or order through the mail.

For some inexplicable reason, however, that’s not the case and hasn’t been since 1934. Thanks to the involvement of our friends in the federal government, buying a can — where they’re legal — is more involved than that. And they’re banned altogether in eight states (I bet you can name at least seven of them without Googling).

The ASA, backed by Silencer Shop, filed suit in US district court in Illinois seeking to overturn that benighted state’s suppressor ban as inconsistent with the text, history, and tradition of firearms laws in the United States. In other words, the ASA is using the clear language of the Bruen ruling to make the state defend its can ban on a post-Bruen landscape.

As the ASA’s suit on behalf of a couple of Illinois hunters makes clear . . .

By prohibiting Plaintiffs from possessing and carrying suppressors, Illinois has prevented Plaintiffs from “keep[ing] and bear[ing] Arms” within the meaning of the Amendment’s text. As a result, “[t]o justify its regulation, the government . . . must demonstrate that the regulation is consistent with this Nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation.”

Defendants cannot demonstrate any such thing. Heller and Bruen have provided the sole historical tradition that can remove an arm from the Second Amendment’s protective scope—the tradition of banning dangerous and unusual weapons. To be banned, a firearm must be both “dangerous and unusual.” But suppressors are neither dangerous nor unusual. Arms that are in common use, as the ordinary suppressors Illinois has banned unquestionably are, cannot be unusual. And suppressors, which actually increase the safety of a firearm, cannot be dangerous. Suppressors do not meet the Supreme Court’s threshold for banning arms, and the Illinois laws challenged herein must be held unconstitutional.

Keep your fingers crossed. We talked to Knox Williams, the ASA’s executive director, about the Illinois case and other fronts the org is fighting. As you might expect, they have a lot on their plates these days. They’re busier than Kamala Harris’s comms team after she says, well, anything in public.

On the plus side, there’s the latest iteration of the Hearing Protection Act. The bill would regulate suppressors like a firearm. That’s not the total deregulation we’d all like to see, but the bill would remove cans from NFA regulation and treat them like firearms. You’d just need a standard background check to buy one. That would be a huge step in the right direction.

On the decidedly negative side, there’s the HEAR Act. That’s a bill recently introduced by the usual suspects that would ban the importation, sale, manufacturing, transfer, and possession of gun silencers or suppressors. Yes…that would be an outright federal ban on suppressors nationwide.

Given the current makeup of Congress, neither bill has much chance of getting anywhere. But that doesn’t mean the ASA can ignore an opportunity like the Hearing Protection Act or the threat presented by the HEAR Act.

They’ve also been heavily involved in places like Colorado (the recently defeated ‘assault weapons’ ban would have included language banning threaded barrels) and, most recently, Washington State. In other words, much like the effort to defend and extend gun rights in general, the ASA is involved in a fight that never ends.

Even in pro-gun states, the ASA’s out there trying to expand the ability of hunters to hunt with suppressors. Because who wouldn’t rather shoot with a can than without one?

Williams tells us that one of his biggest challenges is getting the word out about the organization, letting people know what they’re doing and drumming up more members. There are somewhere between 1 and 1.5 million suppressor owners in America. That number’s growing fast, but it’s still a relatively small number of America’s 100 million gun owners.

The ASA’s support base is comprised of a few dozen companies and retailers along with about individual 4000 members. They provide the funds to keep the ASA’s people out there, lobbying for better legislation and in in the courts challenging bans as they are in Illinois (they tell me more lawsuits are in the pipeline).

So if you’re a suppressor owner, if you plan to be one in the future, or if you just want to see the NFA chipped away and eventually fall, you could do a lot worse than becoming an ASA member. You can do that here.



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