Lawmakers on Tuesday debated the merits of a Republican-backed bill that would make it easier for individuals to buy gun silencers.
Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-S.C., introduced the measure in the Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act, the Hill reported. The provision calls for a less extensive and instant background check.
Duncan’s bill is reportedly dubbed the Hearing Protection Act. The debate was reportedly delayed after the shooting of Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., in June in a park in Arlington, Va.
Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., reportedly said it seems that sportsmen “have to choose between damaging their hearing and being able to hunt, shoot, target practice.”
Democrats said the bill is dangerous, and would make it more difficult to determine where shots are being fired in an active-shooter situation.
“We should not make it easier for anyone to obtain these weapons of war,” Rep. Jimmy Gomez, D-Calif., said, according to the report.
David Chipman, a senior policy adviser of Americans for Responsible Solutions, a pro-gun control group, was invited to the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Federal Lands hearing, the Hill reported.
Chipman said the bill “would make silencers more readily available to criminals because for the first time in 80 years private parties could sell these guns without background checks on the internet and in gun shows and this has never been the case before.
The National Rifle Association’s lobbying arm supports the measures, saying suppressors are “harmless and very rarely used in crime” and that the joint bill would end the “cumbersome and lengthy application process.”
A similar measure failed in 2015. But supporters are optimistic this time with President Donald Trump in office.
The GOP lawmakers say the bill aims to “cut through the red tape” of owning a suppressor and, if passed, would remove the accessory from the scope of the National Firearms Act. They also say it would replace the “outdated” federal application process with the “instantaneous” National Instant Criminal Background Check.
Critics point to a February 2013 situation in which fired Los Angeles police Officer Christopher Dorner killed four people in a series of attacks over 10 days that targeted law enforcement officials. They argue the fatal attacks might have been stopped earlier had Dorner not been using silencers.
“There’s no evidence of a public health issue associated with hearing loss from gunfire,” Kristin Brown, of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, told the Los Angeles Times earlier this year. “There is evidence of a public health crisis from gun violence, and we think that’s where legislative efforts should be directed.”