The Ultimate Firearms Destination for the Gun Lifestyle

American Suppressor Association: Grassroots Movement Taking On Washington



At RECOIL, we review every product fairly and without bias. Making a purchase through one of our links may earn us a small commission, and helps support independent gun reviews. Learn More

THE ASA IS TAKING BACK SUPPRESSOR RIGHTS ONE STATE AT A TIME

Over the past several years, suppressor ownership has skyrocketed. They’ve become commonplace for law enforcement, hunters, competitors, and recreational shooters alike. Silencers help protect both the shooter and those around them from dangerous noise levels while allowing for effective communication. 

Founded more than a decade ago in 2011, the American Suppressor Association directly advocates for the rights of suppressor owners — and they have a lot of wins. Here we sit down to talk to Knox Williams, president and executive director of the ASA.

ASA Suppressor Demo at the National Assembly of Sportsmen’s Caucuses Sportsmen – Legislator Summit. Little Rock, Arkansas. December, 2021.

RECOIL: What is the ASA and what does it do?

Knox Williams: The American Suppressor Association is the voice for the suppressor world. We fight for pro-suppressor reform at the state and federal levels.

What do you see as major challenges for the ASA?

KW: That’s an interesting question that really has two answers: 1) political challenges and 2) fundraising. 

Politically, we have an uphill battle ahead of us in the eight states where suppressor ownership is prohibited and the nine states where hunting with a suppressor is illegal. We also have an even steeper battle at the federal level, where we are leading the charge to get suppressors removed from the National Firearms Act (NFA). 

A lot of things have to go right for us to accomplish our goals and waiting for the stage to set itself isn’t an option. We must set the stage ourselves. That’s why we stay aggressive and continue to educate lawmakers, regulators, and any decision makers who will listen about the reality of suppressors, even when we know our initiatives don’t have an immediate chance of passage. 

As a nonprofit, none of our work is possible without funding. The suppressor industry is a big supporter of ours, but it takes more than just a few companies to provide us with the resources we need to succeed. Our members are the key to our long-term success, and we desperately need to grow our membership. Right now, we have around 5,000 members. That’s 5,000 out of an estimated 1 million or so suppressor owners. We can do better, and we need to do better. 

Chris Boeck (general counsel – Silencer Shop), Knox Williams (ASA), and Davin Ryan (owner – NFA Services) at the U.S. Capitol. September, 2021.

Can you give an example of something that the ASA is proud of?

KW: Honestly, we’re most proud that our members trust us to advocate on their behalf. We fight for suppressors because we care about them and truly believe in the cause. Owen Miller, our vice president, and I cut our teeth in the suppressor industry. My first job was running Special Projects at Advanced Armament Corp, and Owen spent a decade running compliance at Gemtech Suppressors. It’s where we came from, and it’s who we are. 

I can’t speak for the rest of the team, but the single proudest professional accomplishment for me was legalizing suppressor hunting in the state of Georgia. Every win feels great, but one of the main reasons I started the ASA was because I wanted to be able to hunt with a suppressor in my home state. I realized pretty quickly that I wouldn’t be able to do it alone, so I organized the industry and got to work. It took three years, but we successfully changed the law in Georgia in 2014. 

Who makes up the ASA membership?

KW: Our membership is split into two silos: 1) industry and 2) individuals. We are established as a 501(c)(6) nonprofit, meaning we are essentially a membership-based trade association. We represent all of the major players in the suppressor industry, many of whom have voting rights in the ASA. On the public side, we represent about 5,000 individual members who are truly the backbone of the ASA. Their right to own and use suppressors is why we exist, and what we love fighting for the most. Five-thousand members is a lot, and a great start but realistically to accomplish our goals we need closer to 50,000 members.

Owen Miller, Michael Williams, and Knox Williams addressing industry at the ASA Industry Forum in Washington, DC. September, 2021.

What victories can you tell us about?

KW: A lot of the work we do at the ASA is behind the scenes. One victory that most people don’t know about is when we convinced the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) to drop their plans to require manufacturers to specifically serialize the outer tube of suppressors. Back in 2016, BATFE published an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) called ATF 29P that would have taken away a manufacturer’s discretion on where they serialized completed suppressors. 

The main problem with 29P was that it was based on a request from 2008, when nearly every suppressor actually had an outer tube. By 2016, many suppressor models, like the 

SilencerCo Salvo, did not have an outer tube because they didn’t need one, by design. Had BATFE promulgated their proposed rule, it would have made any tubeless suppressor, like the SilencerCo Switchback and Salvo, the Dead Air Odessa, and the SIG Sauer MODX-9 and MODX-45 illegal. It would have stifled innovation and been a step backward for manufacturers and consumers alike. 

What is the ASA focused on right now?

KW: At the ASA, we have a lot of irons in the fire, but the current primary focus of our organization is political. To that end, we expect 2023 to be a big year. We are going to continue to push for the legalization of suppressors and their use in the field in all 50 states, and we are going to work hard to bring the Hearing Protection Act back to the forefront of political conversations in the next Congress. 

We are also actively working to develop a sound testing standard 

that will educate consumers on the data they need to make an informed decision. Specifically, within the realm of decibel reduction on a given suppressor. We have engaged a world-class research team and are gaining traction on the entire process. Our goal is to unveil the new standard to the industry and consumers sometime in 2023. 

Rugged Suppressors COO Mike Davidson and ASA General Counsel Michael Williams meet with Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC-1) to discuss suppressors during the ASA Industry Forum. September, 2021.

How has the public opinion on suppressors changed since the ASA began?

KW: We have seen a big shift from “are silencers even legal?” and a lot more “which suppressor should I get?” It’s been a hell of a lot of fun seeing the public wake up to the fact that suppressors are legal (in most states), and that the benefits far outweigh the costs. It’s a very fulfilling feeling to know that we’ve played a major role in the transformation of the public perception. That said, we still have a long way to go before we’re done.

What else would you like the readers to know?

KW: The most important take-away for RECOIL readers is that we need their support. Advocacy groups like the ASA draw their power from the members they represent. We need more people to help in the collective voice. As the old saying goes, there is strength in numbers. If you are currently a suppressor owner, are thinking about buying a suppressor, or live in a state where you can’t buy one yet, we ask that you join our Association. Every new member that joins our ranks matters, and they help strengthen our ability to succeed. 

ASA President and Executive Director Knox Williams
ASA General Counsel Michael Williams
ASA Vice President Owen Miller

ASA VICTORY TIMELINE

2011 – Kansas

On July 1, Kansas became the 23rd state to allow hunters to use suppressors when Senate Bill 152 took effect. Although it predates the formation of ASA by two months, future ASA staff consulted with NRA lobbyists on the legislation. This legislation was one of the driving forces behind the development of ASA.

2012 – Texas

On March 30, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission approved an ASA- backed initiative to allow hunters in Texas to use suppressors while hunting any game animal in the state. The regulatory change made Texas the 24th state to fully allow suppressor hunting.

2012 – Arizona

On August 1, ASA-backed House Bill 2728 took effect, making Arizona the 25th state to allow hunters to use suppressors. The legislation, which was carried by Sen. Steve Russell (R-45), was signed by Governor Jan Brewer on May 25, 2012.

Suppressor demonstration for media. Knox Williams and Josh Savani, NRA-ILA Director of Research and Information. Richmond, Virginia. July, 2019.

2012 – Oklahoma

On November 1, Oklahoma became the 26th state to allow hunters to use suppressors when ASA-backed Senate Bill 1743 took effect. The legislation, which was carried by Rep. David Gowan (R-14), was signed into law on March 29, 2012.

2013 – Indiana

On July 1, ASA-backed House Bill 1563 took effect, making Indiana the 27th state to legalize suppressor hunting. The legislation was signed into law on May 11 by then Governor Mike Pence (R) (and later Vice President of the United States).

2013 – Wyoming

On July 1, ASA-backed Senate File 132 took effect, making Wyoming the 28th state to legalize suppressor hunting. The legislation, which was signed into law by Governor Matt Mead (R) on February 18, was carried by Sen. Ogden Driskill (R-1).

2013 – North Carolina

On October 1, ASA-backed House Bill 937 took effect, making North Carolina the 29th state to legalize suppressor hunting. The suppressor portion of the omnibus bill, which was signed into law by Governor Pat McCrory (R) on July 29, was carried by Sen. Shirley Randleman (R-30).

2014 – Georgia

On July 1, ASA-backed House Bill 60 took effect, making Georgia the 30th state to fully legalize suppressor hunting. HB 60 was the culmination of three years of work by ASA. The bill was signed into law by Governor Nathan Deal (R) on April 23. The primary backer of the suppressor hunting provision was Sen. Bill Heath (R-31). This legislation was actively supported by ASA sponsor Daniel Defense.

2014 – Louisiana

On August 1, Louisiana became the 31st state to allow suppressor hunting when an ASA-backed House Bill 186  and Senate Bill 212 took effect. The duplicative bills, which were introduced by Rep. Cameron Henry (R-82) and Sen. Rick Ward III (R-17), were signed by Governor Bobby Jindal (R) at the end of May. This legislation was actively supported by the Louisiana Shooting Association (LSA) and ASA sponsor Lipsey’s.

2014 – Florida

On November 21, Florida became the 33rd state to allow suppressor hunting for all legal animals when the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission voted unanimously to repeal the 57-year-old prohibition.

2015 – Ohio

On March 23, ASA-backed House Bill 234 took effect, making Ohio the 34th state to legalize suppressor hunting for all animals. The bill was signed into law by Governor John Kasich (R) on December 19, 2014. It was sponsored by Rep. Cheryl Grossman (R-23) and Rep. John Becker (R-65), and actively supported by the Ohio Speech and Hearing Governmental Affairs Coalition (OSHGAC) and the Buckeye Firearms Association.

2015 – Montana

On April 24, Democratic Governor Steve Bullock signed House Bill 250 into law, making Montana the 35th state to fully legalize suppressor hunting. In 2013, Governor Bullock vetoed similar legislation due to a misunderstanding of the realities of suppressors. After debunking the common myths and misconceptions, he wrote a letter asking the Speaker of the House to amend HB 250 so that it would legalize the use of suppressors on all game animals.

2015 – Minnesota

On July 1, ASA-backed Senate File 878 took effect, making Minnesota the 36th state to allow hunters to use suppressors. The legislation, which was carried by Rep. Tony Cornish (R-23B) and Rep. Mark Anderson (R-09A), is part of the same bill that legalized suppressor ownership in the state.

2015 – Maine

On October 15, ASA-backed Legislative Document 942 took effect, making Maine the 37th state to allow hunters to use suppressors. The legislation, which was sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Garrett Mason (R-22) and Rep. Stephen Wood (R-57), was actively supported by the Maine Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus, the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, and Gun Owners of Maine.

2016 – Michigan

On February 11, Michigan became the 38th state to allow hunters to use suppressors when the Natural Resources Commission (NRC) voted 4-1 to approve an ASA-backed amended version of Wildlife Conservation Order Amendment No. 1 of 2016. Prior to the final vote, Commissioner Louise Klarr successfully removed two provisions that would’ve limited the decibel reduction of suppressors allowed in the field to 30 dB and prohibited the use of subsonic ammunition. The measure was actively supported by the Michigan United Conservation Clubs (MUCC).

2016 – New Hampshire

On June 10, Democratic Governor Maggie Hassan signed House Bill 250 into law, officially making New Hampshire the 40th state to legalize hunting with suppressors. The legislation was introduced by Rep. John Burt (R-39) and championed by Rep. Jeff Goley (D-8), along with the New Hampshire Sportsmen’s Caucus. The legislation was actively supported by ASA sponsor SIG Sauer.

2016 – Iowa

On March 31, Governor Terry Branstad (R) signed House File 2279 into law, officially making Iowa the 39th state to legalize hunting with suppressors. The legislation, which was carried by Rep. Matt Windschitl (R-17) and Rep. Terry Baxter (R-08), and actively supported by the Iowa Firearms Coalition (IFC), is part of the same bill that legalized suppressor ownership in the state.

2022 – Vermont

Governor Phil Scott (R-VT) signed S. 281 into law, making Vermont the 41st state to allow the use of suppressors while hunting. The ASA-backed pro-suppressor provision of the bill, championed by Representatives Pat Brennan (R-Chittenden-9-2) and George Till (D-Chittenden-3), was amended into the legislation during the floor debate in the House of Representatives on May 10. It passed the Senate as amended the very next day. The new law, which carries a two-year sunset provision, will take effect on July 1.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Knox Williams and team are leading the way for advocacy of current and future suppressor owners. With the help and support of members and industry partners, they’re fighting an uphill battle while removing some of the Hollywood negativity that surrounds suppressors and suppressor users. You can help the American Suppressor Association and learn more about their initiatives at www.americansuppressorassociation.com. 

Enter Your E-Mail to Receieve a Free 50-Target Pack from RECOIL!

NEXT STEP: Download Your Free Target Pack from RECOIL

For years, RECOIL magazine has treated its readers to a full-size (sometimes full color!) shooting target tucked into each big issue. Now we've compiled over 50 of our most popular targets into this one digital PDF download. From handgun drills to AR-15 practice, these 50+ targets have you covered. Print off as many as you like (ammo not included).

Get your pack of 50 Print-at-Home targets when you subscribe to the RECOIL email newsletter. We'll send you weekly updates on guns, gear, industry news, and special offers from leading manufacturers - your guide to the firearms lifestyle.

You want this. Trust Us.



Add a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe to the Free
Newsletter