Appeals Court Rules Against Firearm Silencer Lawsuit

Appeals Court Rules Against Firearm Silencer Lawsuit

( – The Second Amendment grants Americans the right to own firearms, provided they meet the criteria. However, federal laws regulate gun accessories, including silencers, which mask weapons fire sounds. A few Texas residents and the state attorney general, Ken Paxton, sued the federal government to partially block enforcement of the National Firearm Act for certain suppressors made in the state. An appeals court recently ruled against them in a summary judgment.

In 2021, State Rep. Tom Oliverson (R) became instrumental in bringing a law that exempted Texan-made silencers from enforcement under federal law. Federal Judge Mark Pittmann dismissed a challenge to the federal law in 2023. However, the plaintiffs appealed the decision to the 5th Circuit’s Court of Appeals, which upheld Pittmann’s decision. In short, the state-made suppressors were still subject to federal regulation.

Silencers aren’t illegal. Gun owners who want to purchase one must follow guidelines that include paying $200 in excise taxes, obtaining a permit, marking the silencer with a serial number, and registering the device with the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record.

Paxton maintained that the laws warranted his suit because “no other constitutional right is subject to payment of a federal tax” before one can enjoy that right. However, that wasn’t what Paxton argued in court.

In his suit, the Texas AG contended that Texas was a “sovereign state” and declared its citizens independent of federal regulations and taxation of products made in the state. The court’s ruling declared that none of the plaintiffs had standing to bring their suit. The three-judge panel held that Texas has no valid “quasi-sovereign interest” claim to standing in the suit because it centered on citizens’ rather than states’ rights. The appeals court further held the state had no legal standing because it was simply trying “to immunize state citizens from federal law.”

It’s unclear whether Paxton or the original plaintiffs plan to seek further action.

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