USA – -(Ammoland.com)- Welcome back to The Legal Brief, the show where we CRUSH the various legal myths and misinformation surrounding various areas of the gun world.
I’m your host Adam Kraut and I would appreciate your support in my bid for the NRA Board of Directors.
Go check out out my website adamkraut.com to learn more about that. Now, today we’re headed back to the National Firearms Act or NFA and talking about a topic a lot of you have asked me about in the comments and on our live chats about, the Hearing Protection Act.
The Hearing Protection Act or HPA was introduced in 2015 by Representative Matt Salmon of Arizona. A simple one page bill, amazing I know, the HPA would remove the term silencer from the definition of a firearm under the NFA removing it from the purview of the NFA with regard to taxable transfers. It also would prevent any state from imposing a tax or a marking and record keeping requirement for silencers. It also provides for a tax credit on the transfer tax that was paid on any transfers from the date of the introduction of the bill. In other words, it’s a step in the direction of dismantling the NFA.
With the Republicans retaining control of the House and Senate and winning the presidency, there is a lot of talk about the action this new administration will take once it begins its term. A number of individuals and now blogs have posted that the Hearing Protection Act will be passed in as little as 60 days. Before we go any further I have to preface the next part. I think the bill is great and good for everyone, both individuals like myself and the industry. I mean, who wants to pay a $200 tax and wait 8 months to have a transfer approved? Especially for something that is meant to protect one’s hearing. No one right?
I did call my Representative and Senators when this bill was introduced. That said, I think the optimism in the speed which this bill may be passed potentially is overlooking the realities of passing legislation. Simply put, I wouldn’t hold my breath and stop buying silencers in the meantime because it might be a while, potentially a long while.
For some context, in the 109th Congress, which ran from 2005 to 2006 over 10,500 bills were introduced and only 440 became law which equates to roughly 2 percent. See my point?
We need to think back to our high school civics class, or at least what should have been taught in it, to understand how a bill becomes a law.
I’ve included a link to the fun Schoolhouse Rock video to give a quick visual for the process, but there is a bit more to it. We’re going to go through a 10,000 foot overview of the process.
In the House a bill is introduced and assigned a number. It is then referred to the Speaker of the House who assigns it to a committee or committees who has jurisdiction over the topic relevant to their committee. When this bill was introduced it was assigned to the House Ways and Means Committee and the Judiciary Committee, which is where it still remains.
The committees hold hearings related to the bill and may or may not edit the content of the bill itself. If the committee agrees to the language it will then vote for it to be reported to the floor. Its entirely possibly that a bill makes it this far and then dies.
After being reported to the floor, the Speaker of the House decides what bills will be considered and in what order. Most bills end up going to the Rules Committee which creates the rules that will govern the procedures of how a bill is considered by the House. If a bill actually makes it to the floor for a vote and passes, it then has to go over to the Senate for a similar process.
Unless, the same bill was also introduced in the Senate, which is what happened with the HPA. The process for a bill making it through the Senate is similar in the sense of it is reported to a committee where it may be modified and is then debated on the floor. The HPA currently is in the Senate Finance Committee.
Perhaps the most notable difference between the House and Senate, is that in the Senate, there are no rules relating to the debate of a bill.
In essence, a bill could make it as far as the floor and die there. Unlike the House which has rules related to the debate, generally speaking, the Senate does not. In other words, a Senator could filibuster a bill by debating it to death, unless the Senators invoke cloture. Now I’m sure at this point your eyes are crossed and you just want to know where this ends. Cloture and no that isn’t closure, requires at least 60 senators to invoke and would force the end of debate on a bill which would then turn into a vote.
Herein lies a big problem for the Hearing Protection Act with the current makeup of our legislature. The Republicans will hold 51 seats in the Senate in the next Congress. This is 9 short of the required number to invoke cloture. And bear in mind, not all 51 senators that are Republican are exactly staunch Second Amendment supporters. So that means you’d likely have to find at least 10 or more Democratic Senators who would invoke cloture to vote on the bill. Given the topic and the stance of most of the Democratic Senators on the Second Amendment, that might be a tough sell.
If the bill makes it to the floor for a vote in both chambers and they both pass the same bill, which almost never happens, it then goes to the President’s desk for signature. Otherwise, it goes to a committee which attempts to resolve the differences between the two bills to create one final bill.
So what was the point of this quick civics lesson?
Even though the Republicans will have a majority in Congress and control the White House in 2017, it is not a guarantee legislation will make it to the President’s desk. While the odds for passing pro-gun legislation are better, it is not going to be a given that if a bill is introduced it will become law. Both bills remain in committee currently and haven’t even made it to the floor. And since legislation is only good for two years before it must be reintroduced, it will have to start the process all over again come the next Congress. So I wouldn’t hold off on silencer purchases on the hopes that this bill becomes a law anytime soon.
That said, when the next Congress goes into session and the bills are reintroduced, I’ll be on the phone demanding my Representative and Senators support this important bill. I expect all of you to do the same. Unsure what to say? Among other things be sure to highlight the positives of silencers, the fact they protect your hearing and stops noise pollution in areas where there are gun ranges.
Hopefully that explains a little more about the Hearing Protection Act and the possibility of it becoming law in the near future. If you guys liked this episode, you know what to do, hit that like button and share it around with your friends. Have a question you want answered on this show, head over to The Legal Brief section on theguncollective.com. Be sure to check out my website adamkraut.com for more information on my quest to serve YOU on the NRA Board of Directors. Don’t forget to like The Gun Collective on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Full 30, Snap Chat and wherever else you can catch us on social media.
And as always thanks for watching!
Links for this episode:
- Hearing Protection Act – H.R. 3799 : https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/3799/text
- Hearing Protection Act – S. 2236 : https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/senate-bill/2236/text
- Firearm – 26 USC § 5845 : https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/26/5845
- Effect on State Law – 18 USC § 927 : https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/927
- How a Bill Becomes a Law – Schoolhouse Rock : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Otbml6WIQPo
- More in Depth Video – How a Bill Becomes a Law : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=66f4-NKEYz4
- The Legislative Process : https://www.congress.gov/legislative-process
- Filibusters and Cloture in the Senate : http://www.senate.gov/CRSpubs/3d51be23-64f8-448e-aa14-10ef0f94b77e.pdf
- Cloture : http://www.senate.gov/reference/reference_index_subjects/Cloture_vrd.htm
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