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Alabama Sen. Luther Strange has signed on as a co-sponsor of bill that would make it easier for anyone to purchase a firearm silencer.

The bill would remove a $200 transfer tax applied to silencer purchases as well as eliminate the current registration process, which critics said is unnecessarily burdensome. The only requirement that would remain would be a National Instant Criminal Background Check, the same process applied to firearm purchases from a licensed gun dealer.

Strange is one of 15 co-sponsors of the measure. Its official name is the Hearing Protection Act, as proponents said silencers can prevent hearing loss for firearms enthusiasts.

Senator Luther Strange speaks at Boy Scout Eagle Breakfast at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center Thursday April 13, 2017. (Bob Gathany/bgathany@AL.com)

“As an avid sportsman, I know that repeated exposure to loud noise can have real life effects,” Strange said. “By protecting recreational shooters, animals, and nearby communities from hearing loss and disruption, suppressors serve an important function for those who enjoy the great outdoors of Alabama.

“I am proud to co-sponsor this important fix that ensures that silencing devices are accessible to gun enthusiasts, and that sprawling regulations do not get in the way of common sense.”

The measure has drawn the support of the National Rifle Association.

 “The Hearing Protection Act would make it easier for sportsmen to purchase the tools necessary to protect their hearing,” said Chris W. Cox, executive director, NRA-ILA. “Many gun owners and sportsmen suffer severe hearing loss, and yet sound suppressors – a tool that can reduce such loss – is overly regulated and taxed.”

Silencers, also known as suppressors, have been regulated by the federal government since the passage of the National Firearms Act of 1934. They can reduce the noise of a gunshot by as much as 35 decibels, or roughly about the same amount as earplugs.

Silencers are currently legal in 42 states, with 37 of them allowing the devices to be used for hunting.

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