Guess Which Country Just Helped Illustrate the Absurdity of US Suppressor Laws?
TN Man Convicted of Smuggling Suppressors into US Thanks to Lighter Regulation in… England(!?)
Well, this is embarrassing, as far as firearm freedoms go. It’s like having to admit that your Bugatti Veyron got beat around the track by the neighbor kid’s 1989 Honda CRX. Isn’t America supposed to be the bastion of gun rights (or, as anti-gun groups would have you believe, a violent wild west frontier straight from the bloodiest shoot-em-up flick you can find)?
Most proponents of an originalist (or any other common sense) interpretation of the United States Constitution and Bill of rights probably already feel that firearms are too heavily regulated in the US, and none are more highly regulated than Title II weapons that fall under the purview of the National Firearms Act, such as machine guns, silencers, short barreled firearms, and destructive devices. Such items are flat out illegal in a number of states and, where they are legal, ownership involves a number of hurdles, including high prices, payment of a $200 transfer tax, being finger-printed, wait times lasting the better part of a year, and federal registration of the item. “But hey, at least we don’t have European-style gun control, right?”
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (BATFE) recently released details of the conviction of a Tennessee man who traveled to England, where some may be surprised to find less restrictive laws, to purchase firearm silencers and smuggle them back into the US, presumably because the draconian laws in place here made them too difficult to obtain.
50 year old Paul Gratton, of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, was found guilty on Monday by a federal jury on a number of charges, including delivering of a firearm to a common carrier without written notice; illegal shipment of a firearm with intent to commit a felony; illegal importation of a firearm; illegal receipt of a firearm that had been imported; and unlawful possession of unregistered silencers following a two-day trial before Chief U.S. District Judge Kevin H. Sharp..
As an NSSF fact-sheet on suppressors points out, “In England and many other European countries, generally known for having much more restrictive firearms laws, they do not have restrictions on suppressor ownership and, in fact, actually encourage their use. They recognize that suppressors are
a great tool to help reduce noise pollution.”
Gratton, who owns a helicopter servicing business in Murfreesboro, traveled to England, where he purchased six firearm silencers from a firearms dealer in Sheffield, none of which, the BATFE release points out, had serial numbers. Gratton put some of the silencer parts into a DHL package, which he “deliberately mislabeled in order to ensure that those silencers got through U.S. Customs without being discovered by the authorities.” He then put other silencer parts into his checked baggage before flying back to Murfreesboro. Federal law enforcement officers later obtained a search warrant for Gratton’s residence, where they recovered the silencers and obtained a confession from him.
Big government types love to point out the Utopian paradise across the pond, particularly when it comes to how restrictive they are of firearm ownership. The fact that these firearm safety accessories are controlled so lightly in Europe that US citizens are apparently traveling there, of all places, to buy them and smuggle them back really illustrates the absurdity of current regulation in the US.
There is, however, hope for some change on the horizon, with another attempt at the Hearing Protection Act having been introduced into both the House and Senate. Be sure to contact your representatives and urge them to support the HPA; there is no time like the present to fight to gain back some of our gun rights which have been taken away.
While a sentencing date has not yet been set, Gratton faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000.