A Sig Sauer P226 equipped with a silencer
A Sig Sauer P226 equipped with a silencer / Stephen Gutowski

Guam Passes Silencer Legalization Bill

Suppressors are one step closer to legalization in another U.S. jurisdiction.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Territory of Guam’s legislature passed a new bill that would allow its citizens to own suppressors. The bill passed on a bipartisan basis.

“Therefore, it is the intent of [the Legislature] to remove the restrictions on silencers and suppressors in Guam’s firearm laws, subject to the provisions of federal laws, rules, and regulations,” the bill reads. “The combination of silencers/suppressors and traditional hearing protection such as earplugs and earmuffs will reduce the risk of noise-induced hearing loss from firearms training and hunting.”

The bill comes as part of a broader movement in U.S. politics to deregulate suppressors, with varying levels of success. While many jurisdictions allow the ownership of suppressors and several have legalized them in recent years, the National Firearms Act of 1934 (NFA) requires all of the devices to be taxed and registered by the federal government. A bill to remove suppressors from the added regulation, entitled the Hearing Protection Act, has been introduced in the U.S. Congress in multiple legislative sessions but has never passed.

States like Texas and Montana have passed legislation attempting to nullify the federal law as well. However, Kansas residents who followed a similar law were convicted under the NFA in 2018 after the state’s declaration was ruled an insufficient defense.

The Guam bill only seeks to make the devices, which muffle the sound of a gunshot to levels that are less dangerous to human hearing, legal to own after compliance with the NFA. It included provisions to address many popular misconceptions about the efficacy of suppressors and assuage concerns about their risks.

“The public perception of the effects of firearm silencers or suppression devices have largely been exaggerated by movies and pop culture,” the bill said. “In reality, the reduction of noise produced by silencers and suppression devices is about thirty (30) decibels.”

If signed, the bill would place Guam in line with the laws in 42 states which currently allow private citizens to own suppressors. It would also grant citizens the ability to use suppressors when lawfully hunting, something 40 states currently allow.

The American Suppressor Association (ASA), an advocacy group, praised the passing of the bill.

“We applaud Senator Ada for his leadership and steadfast determination to ensure the citizens of Guam will no longer have to jeopardize their hearing while exercising their Second Amendment rights,” Knox Williams, Executive Director of ASA, said in a statement. “We now call on Governor Guerrero to do the right thing and sign Senator Ada’s bill into law.”

The bill now awaits action from Governor Leon Guerrero (D.). Her office did not respond to a request for comment on whether she plans to sign or veto the bill.

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Created by potrace 1.16, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2019

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Created by potrace 1.16, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2019

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