SPRINGFIELD, VIRGINIA — Opponents of the Over-The-Counter Hearing Aid Act have found a new ally in a conservative gun-rights organization: Gun Owners of America (GOA). The 1.5 million-member organization has expressed concern that the measure would change the way certain hunting products are regulated, specifically Personal Sound Amplification Products (PSAPs) which are used by many hunters to listen to game.
The GOA’s primary skepticism of the legislation stems from the fact that Senator Elizabeth Warren is one of the primary sponsors of the bill. The Massachusetts Senator, a vocal advocate of gun reform legislation, has drawn the ire of pro-gun groups over the years, such as the NRA, which she has vowed to defeat.
On behalf of over 1.5 million law-abiding gun owners, I am writing to express our concern over Elizabeth Warren’s “Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act” –and, in particular, its inclusion as a “non-controversial amendment” on the prescription drug bill.
A survey of hunting-related merchandise offered by stores like Bass Pro Shops reveals a variety of hearing-aid-type devices marketed as hunting aids. These go by names like “hearing enhancer,” “game ear,” and “hearing enhancement aid.” These devices operate similar to other hearing aids, and they are intended to help hunters (including, but not limited to hearing-impaired hunters) detect the presence of game.
There’s a pretty good chance that these hunting devices would fall within Warren’s definition of “over-the-counter hearing aid.” Which would mean that a new federal bureaucracy would be in charge of regulating hunting.
-Excerpts from letter sent to US legislators by GOA in May
The GOA is concerned that the legislation will impose additional federal regulations over the hunting and shooting industry.
Senator Gets Message, Offers Changes
Senator Chuck Grassley, one of the original co-sponsors, said the bill will not impact hunting tools in any way. Likely out of fear of drawing further wrath from gun-rights groups and their allied organizations, the Iowa senator has already promised to make changes to the language of the bill to make the distinction more clear.
“The Food and Drug Administration has made clear the bill wouldn’t compromise personal sound amplifiers that hunters use. However, language will be drafted to make clear that such devices are not affected just to be safe.”
–Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa
According to an AP report, the National Shooting Sports Foundation said the group is monitoring the legislation and favors “addressing preventing (hearing) loss and not regulating devices that are clearly not medical hearing aids”.
GOP Sponsors Facing Six-Figure Attack Ad Campaign Over Support; Congressman Suggests ‘Big Six’ Behind Attacks
Frontiers of Freedom, a non-profit conservative group based in Washington, DC, is planning attack ads on three GOP House members regarding their support of a House version of the OTC hearing aid bill. House members, Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Michael Burgess (R-TX) and Earl “Buddy” Carter (R-GA), are being targeted by the group with a six-figure ad campaign.
In response to the attack ad, Rep. Buddy Carter said that the bill makes clear that it would help make healthcare more affordable to those that need it. “But how ludicrous is it to think that you’d be criticized for trying to make healthcare and medical devices more accessible and more affordable,” Carter told a local NBC affiliate.
“I mean here you’ve got six companies that account for 98 percent of the market share of all hearing aids worldwide and you know they’re the ones who are behind this. It leads you to believe that what we hear about special interests running Washington, D.C. is true.”
–Rep. Buddy Carter, in comments to NBC affiliate News 3
The congressman is undeterred by the negative press and defended his support, stating that the bill is a bi-partisan effort and just passed out of the House and Energy Commerce Committee unanimously by all 54 members.
The bill will now go to the full House of Representatives for final consideration.
Currently the OTC legislation is supported by the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA), the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), the Academy of Doctors of Audiology (ADA), the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), Bose, and the Gerontological Society of America.