Last year, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed into law a bill that says suppressors that are built, owned, and used within the state are not subject to federal regulation under the National Firearms Act. The new law set up a legal challenge that, once it plays out in the courts, could result in the elimination of the onerous NFA compliance requirements surrounding silencers that are stamped “Made in Texas” and never leave the state.
As TTAG legal wizard LKB wrote at the time . . .
The new law does not make any suppressors free from federal law, although it sets up a legal challenge that might do so for certain suppressors in the future. Until such a challenge succeeds — which will be years away, and would require some seismic shifts in constitutional law — making or possessing a suppressor in violation of the National Firearms Act remains illegal under federal law, and subjects you to a minimum 10 year federal sentence. . . .
The legal argument will be that because such “Made in Texas” suppressors are not in or part of interstate commerce, Congress lacks the constitutional authority to tax/regulate/ban them.
Read LKB’s explainer and DO NOT start making your own silencers in Texas. Yet. The process has a long legal row to hoe before “Made in Texas” cans are NFA-exempt.
The Texas law directs the Attorney General to file suit against the ATF challenging the agency’s right to regulate “Made in Texas” cans if someone informs him that they intend to manufacture such silencers without complying with the NFA.
Apparently someone has done that. And now, Attorney General Ken Paxton has filed suit against our friends in Washington. Here’s his press release announcing the legal action . . .
Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a lawsuit against the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives seeking to stop the enforcement of federal regulations regarding firearm suppressors made in Texas. Texas House Bill 957, passed in 2021, expressly exempts from federal regulation firearm suppressors that are made in, and remain in Texas.
Federal law regulates firearm suppressors, making it illegal to own a firearm suppressor for personal use without paying a tax. It is also a federal offense to possess, manufacture, transport, repair, or sell a firearm silencer unless a person complies with federal guidelines.
“Our Second Amendment right must be protected and I will continue to protect Texans from federal overreach interfering with that inalienable right,” Attorney General Paxton said. “The federal government cannot simply override the Constitution. I will not allow them to tarnish the freedom and values Americans hold dear.”
This federal law violates the Second Amendment by taxing and regulating firearm suppressors made and used in Texas. No other constitutional right is subject to payment of a federal tax before an American can exercise that right.