Trump Administration Fixes Policy Concerning Suppressors

posted on August 13, 2020

Last month, the Trump Administration fixed a U.S. Department of State policy on suppressors that had kept American suppressor makers out of the international market for these hearing-safety devices.

According to the NRA-ILA: “The Department of State has rescinded its April 18, 2002, firearms sound suppressor policy. This policy … restricted their export to only official end users such as government or military entities…. The old policy completely excluded American suppressor manufacturers from competing in foreign markets where firearm suppressors are perfectly legal. It was also based on the misguided idea that suppressors completely silence firearms and that similar suppressor technology isn’t already available in the rest of the world.”

NRA-ILA also said, “This policy reversal is long overdue and just one more step the Trump administration has taken to help law-abiding gun owners and American manufacturers.” 

“I see this as pro-business and pro-America,” said Brandon Maddox, MBA and the founder of Silencer Central. “Now, the reality is that U.S. silencer makers are so highly regulated, it may be difficult for them to price competitively in the international marketplace; however, this change might increase manufacturing and sales volumes and reduce overall costs, which manufacturers could pass on to American consumers.”

Never a group to pass up a chance to mis-represent anything to do with the Second Amendment, the gun-control group Brady: United Against Gun Violence used the change in policy as part of its recent fund-raising efforts. As an article in Townhall noted, a Brady fund-raising email claimed that this Trump administration change could lead to the deaths of U.S. troop stationed overseas: “The harm is clear: This [suppressor] repeal will increase the risk that U.S. service members will be shot or killed with American-made guns and accessories. This repeal is immoral. It’s unpatriotic. It’s lethal.”

“It’s also complete BS,” wrote Mark Oliva, director of public affairs for the National Shooting Sports Foundation. “Brady should learn to conduct a basic fact check. Even checking Wikipedia would suffice.”

It is true, Oliva confirmed to, that the original Department of State policy banning suppressor exports cited—among other things—that U.S.-made suppressors might be used against U.S. servicemen and women. 

“Of course, back then [2002], everything was done in the name of anti-terror, so it was the politically expedient thing to do,” Oliva said. “But it wasn’t true then and it’s not true now.”

As he noted in his Townhall article, “A quick internet search could easily reveal that suppressors are not just legal for use in foreign countries, some actually require their use. In Finland and France, suppressors are available over the counter. The notion that the rest of the world is devoid of suppressors because U.S. companies could not export them is preposterous.”

Oliva is also a retired Marine Master Gunnery Sergeant with 25 years of service, including tours in Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, Albania and Zaire, so he was speaking from this experience. “Brady’s ‘do it for the troops’ assertion would be laughable if they weren’t so serious in their outright dishonesty,” said Oliva. “Brady isn’t doing anything about illicit international arms trade. They’re only out to deny law-abiding Americans their God-given rights. They don’t care how unscrupulous they are in that goal.”

The anti-gun extremists truly don’t care, even when at issue is a product that actually provides a public-health benefit like hearing protection.


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