Legislature repeals state-level ban on gun silencers

The House gave final approval Monday to a bill, officially labeled “The Tennessee Hearing Protection Act,” that repeals a state law generally prohibiting firearm silencers.

The final House vote was 74-18. That came after House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Stewart tried, unsuccessfully, to amend the measure (SB921) to require background checks for persons buying a silence and to declare use a silencer-equipped weapon  in committing a crime a felony.

The Senate had approved the bill 28-1 on April 3. Sponsors are Sen. Steve Southerland Rep. Tilman Goins, both R-Morristown.

In the House debate, Goins noted that silencers must be registered with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms after payment of a $200 fee. He said the bill just “gets Tennessee out of the way” for those who want to buy and use silencers in accord with federal regulations.

Note: Stewart emailed a statement to media on the House vote:

 Today, the Republican supermajority squelched debate on the Tennessee House floor so that they would not have to answer questions about a bill that will allow people who can’t pass a background check to purchase silenced weapons without penalty.  The so-called “Tennessee Hearing Protection Act” ends the prohibition on possessing, manufacturing, transporting, repairing or selling a firearm silencer.  Any citizen who can imagine what it will be like to be a police officer and to potentially face a concealed assailant using a silenced weapon can see what an unwise and irresponsible bill this is.  And yet, shortly after debate began tonight, it was cut off by Republican leadership who forced a vote on the measure.  At the very least, the people deserve a debate so they can hear the potential dangers of what a silenced weapon can do.  Shutting down debate on crucial issues like this one does a disservice to the people who elected us.

One Response to Legislature repeals state-level ban on gun silencers

  • Larry ( Cleveland Tennessee ) says:

    Mike Stuart is describing a criminal act. Criminals dont follow the law, thats why we call them criminals. If a criminal wants to use a silencer, they use a silencer no matter what the law says. We have the right to bear arms to legally kill criminals. We have to properly train if were going to kill humans in the populated areas we live and work in. We have train our children, some call this sport shooting. When were out having fun with our family training with them to properly use a firearm, we need hearing protection, ear plugs dont do enough. A silencer helps us during training . Making it expensive for law abiding citizens to Get silencers or Making law abiding citizens register does not keep silencers from criminals. Criminals dont follow the laws. Gun Silencers are Oil filters and there are hundreds of thousands even millions in our state, a criminal already has access, Mike Stuart is wrong.

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Former Knoxville News Sentinel capitol bureau chief Tom Humphrey writes about Tennessee politics, government, and legislative news.
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