If you are a resident of the Volunteer State, it is likely that you have heard of the Tennessee Hearing Protection Act. This legislation was passed in the Tennessee House of Representatives on May 1, 2017, removing the state's prohibition on the manufacture, possession, transport, sale, or repair of gun silencers. The Tennessee Hearing Protection Act became effective on June 1, 2017. But confusion remains regarding what exactly this law means and how it works in relation to federal laws that regulate gun silencers.
A gun silencer — also known as a sound suppressor – reduces the sound and muzzle flash that is generated when a weapon is fired. This metal device is either attached to or part of the barrel of a pistol or rifle. Those in support of the Hearing Protection Act argue that silencers are helpful in protecting the hearing of the individual firing the weapon or others that are in the vicinity when the weapon is fired. Under state law, Tennessee does not consider silencers to be firearms. However, federal law trumps state law and silencers are considered firearms under the federal Gun Control Act of 1968 and they are governed under the National Firearms Act as well.
Understanding the legislation
Much confusion surrounds the Tennessee Hearing Protection Act. Some Tennessee residents wonder why it was passed if it doesn't, in fact, really change anything because it runs contradictory to federal law, which supersedes it.
The legislation allows residents of Tennessee to legally use silencers on their pistols and rifles. However, those interested in purchasing a gun silencer in Tennessee still have to go through the same process they would if they were purchasing any firearm or machine gun. Purchasers must visit a licensed firearm dealer and fill out an application, send the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) $200, and then wait for the ATF to complete a background check. So as long as the silencer purchaser complies with the National Firearms Act and the Gun Control Act, then silencer ownership is legal.
Still have questions about Tennessee's gun laws? We can help
Tennessee's gun laws are rather confusing with the recent implementation of the Tennessee Hearing Protection Act. Many firearm owners have questions regarding what is legal and what is not, and which laws apply to them in particular circumstances. We can help. The experienced criminal defense attorneys at Dotson & Taylor in Murfreesboro are knowledgeable in all areas of Tennessee criminal law, with a thorough understanding of Tennessee's gun laws. Let us help you understand the law and protect your rights under the law. To schedule a confidential consultation to discuss your situation, contact a member of our team at 615-890-1982 or online.