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In: Criminal Defense

New Developments in Texas Firearm Sound Suppressor Law

Texas legislators are prepping the state for federal expansion on the right to possess gun silencers.

A new Texas law, HB 1819, pertaining to possession of a silencer was passed and went into effect on September 1st. A silencer, or firearm sound suppressor, is meant to muffle the sound of a discharged firearm. It is first important to make it very clear that this law still makes it illegal to possess a silencer in Texas right now, unless you are possessing it legally under Texas law. What the new law really does is prepare Texas for a possible change in silencer laws at the federal level.

The “Hearing Protection Bill” is now working its way through congress and lawmakers are hoping that, in the near future, silencers will be exempt from ATF registration and be treated like a normal firearm purchaser. The federal bill would remove silencers from National Firearm Act requirements. If passed, a person seeking to obtain a firearm would be able to avoid the currently nine-month long approval process and instead go through the much faster National Instance Criminal Background Check currently used for purchase of firearms. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (BATF) is way behind on processing silencer applications, hence the nine-month delay in the approval process. Avoiding the BATF process would save applicants a lot of time, $200 in application fees, and the cost of the tax stamp.

What HB 1819 does in actuality is revises current Texas statutes so that they track federal law pertaining to ownership and possession of a silencer. Under the current Texas Penal Code, silencers are required to be registered with BATF. If Congress passed the Hearing Protection Act which would eliminate this requirement before the Texas Legislature met again in 2019, owners of silencers would be unable to comply with state law opening them up to a potential felony offense. HB 1819 prepares Texas in the event that suppressor purchases will only require an NICS background check.

The law can be confusing and is constantly changing. It can be difficult to know and fully understand your rights. If you have question regarding firearm possession or other criminal laws and penalties, you need to contact Attorney J. Michael Price. With board certification in criminal law, Mike is the criminal law specialist you want to consult with on all matters relating to criminal defense and the criminal justice system. Contact J. Michael Price II today and schedule your no-cost case evaluation.