Court Shuts Down Gun Silencer Attempt

( – A federal appellate rejected a request from the Texas attorney general and gun owners to allow a state firearms law deregulating silencers in the Lone Star State, meaning Texas will continue regulating the gun accessory.

On Friday, June 21, the Fifth District US Appeals Court in Louisiana affirmed a decision by a lower court that dismissed the silencer case for lack of standing.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sued the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) in 2022 and the former ATF chief. On July 18, 2023, Fort Worth Northern District Judge Mark T. Pittman threw the case out because the plaintiffs could not demonstrate having suffered concrete harm. The case, which resulted from a Texas bill requiring the Texas Attorney General to challenge the constitutionality of federal regulations of silencers, was dismissed without prejudice, leaving it open to being refiled if new evidence is presented.

The current federal laws regulating silencers require purchasers to pay $200 in excise tax, obtain a permit, and then register the accessory with the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record under the National Firearms Act after which the silencer must be marked with a serial number. Those opposed to the legislation, which came into effect in 2021, argue that the tax on silencers violates the Second Amendment.

The latest ruling by the US Appeals Court stated that no former or imminent injury to the plaintiffs could be established in the case. The lawsuit also put forward the argument that Washington has no constitutional authority to tax and regulate firearms suppressor manufacturing and that Texas was a “foreign state.” The Fifth Circuit Court dismissed that argument as invalid.

The ruling comes after a recent US Supreme Court 8-1 decision upheld legislation barring convicted domestic abusers from firearms possession. The only Supreme Court justice to oppose the law was Justice Clarence Thomas, who took a more hardline Second Amendment position.

Another major development amid the never ending debate of mass shootings and gun accessibility was the 2022 Supreme Court decision in New York that struck down a law restricting the ability to carry a pistol in the city.

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