A bill to stop cities and counties from enforcing federal laws regarding firearm suppressors is on its way to be signed into law.

This week, House Bill 957 by State Rep. Tom Oliverson (R-Cypress), relating to local, state, and federal regulation of firearm suppressors, was finally passed by both the House and Senate. It now waits to be signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott.

The possession of a working suppressor is a third-degree felony unless it complies with federal regulations. Oliverson’s bill would eliminate the state felony.

The bill has a path to a declaratory judgment, allowing for legal proceedings to be taken on the bill before an arrest is made. 

In addition to repealing Texas’ own criminalization of suppressor possession, the bill also establishes a class of suppressors (“Made in Texas”) that will be declared exempt from federal regulation.

However, the law does not go into effect until September 1, meaning those who manufacture or own suppressors in violation of federal regulations before a successful and final court ruling may be prosecuted for a felony offense.

Rachel Malone, the Texas Director for Gun Owners of America testified, “It keeps you from having permanent hearing damage [and] brings the noise level down just below the occupational hazard limit.”

Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership stated, “The causal relationship between loud noise exposure and irreversible hearing loss has long been recognized by medicine and the U.S. government.”

CDC statistics show one-fifth of all adults aged 18 and older have a hearing impairment. In addition, more than 100 million Americans who own guns are at risk for noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) caused by gunshot noise. According to DRGO, “Auditory injuries are sustained by bystanders the same as by shooters.”

DRGO went on to explain the benefits of using suppressors, stating, “Evidence supporting the need for greater use of firearms suppressors comes from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communicative Disorders, the Centers for Disease Control, as well as academic and military research.”

A suppressor brings a firearm sound just under the hazard limit, reducing the risk of permanent hearing damage, making it more dangerous to not use a suppressor while firing a gun.

Earlier this month when the House was considering HB 957, Oliverson commented, “If you were using a rifle without a suppressor, the sound is about 165 decibels, which is twice as loud as a jet takeoff. With a suppressor, it drops down to about 140 decibels, which is equivalent to being on the deck of an active aircraft carrier.”

Oliverson added “According to the CDC study, even a normal, healthy person who is repeatedly exposed to impact noise will sustain permanent hearing loss. The No. 1 recommendation of all of their conclusions was to use a firearm suppressor whenever possible to avoid permanent hearing loss.”