Texas Senate Committee’s Passage of “Suppressor Freedom” Bill Shows that Texas Republicans are Beginning to Respond to Grassroots Pressure

On May 22, 2021, the Texas Senate passed House Bill 957, which lifts the state’s regulations on suppressors, and will be going straight to the Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s desk.

This bill was originally filed on January 4 by State Representative Tom Oliverson. According to analysis by Michael Boldin of the Tenth Amendment Center, HB 957, “would repeal Texas code criminalizing owning a firearm ‘silencer,’ more accurately referred to as a sound ‘suppressor’ – outside of Federal regulations.” In addition, the bill would prohibit the state from enforcing any federal regulations on suppressors that don’t exist under Texas’ laws.

On May 4, the Texas State House passed HB 957 on a vote of 95-51. This vote was bipartisan in nature, with 14 Democrats joining 81 Republicans in approving this legislation. 

There’s a lot of hysteria surrounding suppressors, which anti-gun commentators routinely makes noise about in efforts to stoke fears among the populace. However, Boldin explained why this fear mongering is nonsense, while also detailing the type of regulations that are imposed on suppressors by the federal government:

Suppressors simply muffle the sound of a gun. They do not literally silence firearms. Nevertheless, the federal government heavily regulates silencers under the National Firearms Act. The feds charge a $200 tax on the purchase of the devices. Buying one also requires months-long waits after filing extensive paperwork with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Indeed, HB 957’s repeal of state suppressor regulations will not change federal law, but it will remove certain regulations that impede access to these accessories.

Boldin understands some the big picture implications of nullification bills like these:

The widespread easing of suppressor regulation in states subtly undermines federal efforts to unconstitutionally regulate firearms. Banning enforcement of federal restrictions is particularly important in light of not just restrictions under the NFA, but proposals from Congress and the Biden administration to ban them completely.

For enforcing unconstitutional measures, it takes two to tango insofar as the federal government must cooperate with local enforcement. Boldin explained this: 

The federal government relies heavily on state cooperation to implement and enforce almost all of its laws, regulations and acts – including gun control. By simply withdrawing this necessary cooperation, states and localities can nullify many federal actions in effect.

Texas politicians are finally responding to pressure from Second Amendment activists. After a decade of constant pressure, Texas politicians are acting on nullification bills and even Constitutional Carry.

2021 is the year of the Second Amendment at state legislatures in red states nationwide. Gun activists should jump on this trend and continue pushing for policies that abolish current gun control regulations and resist federal gun control through nullification measures.