True story – with the caveat that firearm sound suppressors (silencers) remain illegal under Federal law. This is similar to how marijuana remains Federally illegal, but many states have laws permitting the use or sale of marijuana. Texas set up laws that went into effect in 2021 that not only legalized sound suppressing devices under Texas law, but laws were enacted to prevent Federal enforcement of laws against firearm sound suppressing devices (or as the Feds call them “firearm mufflers”).
So, what is a firearm sound suppressor (sometimes referred to as “silencers,” even though none can completely silence the sound of a bullet firing from a weapon)?
Weapon Suppressors – What are they?
It is usually a cylindrical object that attaches to the end of a barrel, usually by threads on the barrel that screws onto cylinder, with the intended purpose of lowering decibel levels created when the weapon is fired. Weapon suppressors don’t actually silence a gun shot. But they do lower, or muffle, the noise enough that the sound is not as easily heard, and does not risk damaging the ears due to excessive sound levels. The typical reduction from such a device is between 30 to 40 db. A typical gunshot ranges between 140 and 165 db. So none of the devices really “silence” a gunshot. At best, they muffle the sound to the level of something like an electric drill or table saw used for cutting lumber.
Texas Laws Created to Protect your Ability to Own a Firearm Suppressor
On June 17, 2021 several pieces of legislation related to firearm suppressors/silencers was signed into law by Texas Governor Greg Abbott, one of which was House Bill 957 (HB 957).
House Bill 957 repealed the criminal statute which made it a criminal offense to possess, manufacture, transport, or repair a firearm silencer. Laws were also passed that essentially state that any firearm suppressor manufactured in Texas, and that remains in Texas, will not be subject to federal law.
What HB 957 does is says that you cannot be prosecuted in Texas for owning a suppressor or silencer – but it DOES remain illegal under Federal law. That means it potentially COULD be prosecuted under Federal law. So to address this issue, additional laws were enacted to prevent Texas resources from being used to prosecute the Federal firearm laws prohibiting firearm silencers / suppressors (or as the Federal law calls it “firearm mufflers”).
HB 957 prevents Texas state resources from being allowed to enforce the Federal law prohibiting silencers, suppressors, or gun mufflers. If a State official aids enforcement of the Federal law, they could lose funding for their department!
Sec. 2.103. STATE GRANT FUNDS. (a) An entity described by Section 2.101 may not receive state grant funds if the entity adopts a rule, order, ordinance, or policy under which the entity enforces a federal law described by Section 2.102(a) or, by consistent action, allows the enforcement of a federal law described by Section 2.102(a).
(b) State grant funds for the entity shall be denied for the fiscal year following the year in which a final judicial determination in an action brought under this subchapter is made that the entity has violated Section 2.102(a).
ADDRESSING THE COMMERCE CLAUSE
From HB 957:
Sec. 2.052. NOT SUBJECT TO FEDERAL REGULATION. (a) A firearm suppressor that is manufactured in this state and remains in this state is not subject to federal law or federal regulation, including registration, under the authority of the United States Congress to regulate interstate commerce.
(b) A basic material from which a firearm suppressor is manufactured in this state, including unmachined steel, is not a firearm suppressor and is not subject to federal regulation under the authority of the United States Congress to regulate interstate commerce as if it actually were a firearm suppressor.
Sec. 2.053. MARKETING OF FIREARM SUPPRESSOR. A firearm suppressor manufactured and sold in this state must have the words “Made in Texas” clearly stamped on it.
Sec. 2.054. ATTORNEY GENERAL. On written notification to the attorney general by a United States citizen who resides in this state of the citizen’s intent to manufacture a firearm suppressor to which Section 2.052 applies, the attorney general shall seek a declaratory judgment from a federal district court in this state that Section 2.052 is consistent with the United States Constitution.
The law essentially states that if the materials used to make the suppressor / silencer / muffler are Texas-sourced raw, they are not subject to federal regulation under interstate commerce because nothing is leaving the state.
KNOW THE LAW BEFORE YOU CARRY A FIREARM
Every persons situation can be unique. If you have any question about whether or not you can legally carry a firearm, suppressor, silencer, or firearm muffler, PLEASE contact an attorney and make sure, BEFORE you decide to exercise your rights under the new Constitutional Carry law in Texas.
CHARGED WITH A WEAPON OFFENSE?
If you have been arrested for unlawful possession of a firearm, felon in possession of a firearm or ANY gun crime, call LeGrande Law NOW! Gun and other Weapon crimes are prosecuted in Texas, you need an aggressive criminal defense attorney to fight for your freedom and make sure that justice is done.
Contact Criminal Defense Lawyer Tristan LeGrande IMMEDIATELY
Houston Criminal defense attorney Tristan LeGrande