When U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, recently introduced a measure in the U.S. Senate to make it easier for hunters and shooters to purchase suppressors to protect their hearing—and a similar measure was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives—those who understand the topic were appreciative of the effort. By Mark Chesnut In fact, Chris W. Cox, NRA-ILA executive director, said of S 59: “The Hearing Protection Act would make it easier for sportsmen to purchase the tools necessary to protect their hearing. Many gun owners and sportsmen suffer severe hearing loss, and yet sound suppressors—a tool that can reduce such loss—is overly regulated and taxed.”
Not surprisingly, those who hate any legislation that might be helpful to America’s law-abiding gun owners immediately went on the attack. Last week, a Los Angeles Times columnist took a page from The Washington Post to launch his own little campaign of FUD—fear, uncertainty and doubt—demonizing the devices. Not surprisingly, those who hate any legislation that might be helpful to America’s law-abiding gun owners immediately went on the attack.
Although he didn’t stoop quite to the stupidity of the Washington Post reporter—who went so far as to refer to the .22 Long Rifle rimfire as a “high-powered rifle”—he did his best to link suppressors to everything from “machine guns and other instruments of mobster violence” to “hand grenades and land mines.” He pointed out that eight states ban ownership of suppressors—without mentioning that 42 states allow them—and he shrieked that legalizing suppressors “increases the dangers of firearm violence.” Of course, that’s hogwash. But that didn’t stop Shannon Watts, head of Bloomberg’s Demanding Moms, from putting in her two cents with a tweet that was characterized by Twitchy as the dumbest Tweet of all time.
“@NRA pushing dangerous silencer agenda: ‘If you can’t hear the gun shots, how do you know a shooter is coming?’” Watts ignorantly tweeted.
As we all know, suppressors, called “silencers” by some, don’t make guns “silent.” And it is very likely Watts knows that, too. It just doesn’t fit into her normal strategy of misleading people who don’t understand guns and gun matters, and who want to believe that the head of a “Moms” group wouldn’t blatantly lie to them.
To help Watts better understand suppressors and the pending legislation—and possibly assist our friends, acquaintances and family members who might not have the knowledge to adequately discuss this issue—let’s take a quick look at suppressors and the current proposal.
In a nutshell, suppressors are simply mufflers for firearms, which function by trapping the expanding gasses at the muzzle, allowing them to slowly cool in a controlled environment. According to the American Suppressor Association, on average, suppressors reduce the noise of a gunshot by 20 to 35 decibels (dB), roughly the same sound reduction as earplugs or earmuffs. In addition to providing hearing protection, suppressors also mitigate noise complaints from those who live near shooting ranges and hunting lands.
Given those simple facts, you would think it would be easy to buy a suppressor. And you’d be wrong.
Private ownership of suppressors is currently legal in 42 states, and they are legal for hunting in 40 states. Unfortunately, these hearing-saving devices have been grossly overregulated by the federal government since passage of the National Firearms Act in 1934.
… these hearing-saving devices have been grossly overregulated by the federal government since passage of the National Firearms Act in 1934.
Currently, prospective buyers must send in an application to the ATF, pay a $200 transfer tax per suppressor, undergo the same background check process that is required to purchase a machine gun, and wait literally months for the ATF to process and approve the paperwork.
The legislation in Congress would remove suppressors from the restrictive NFA requirements, and instead require purchasers to pass a NICS check, the same type of background check that is used during the sale of long guns. In doing so, law-abiding citizens would be free to purchase suppressors, while prohibited persons would continue to be barred from purchasing or possessing these accessories.
So the long and short of it is that suppressors aren’t silent—they simply reduce the level of noise to the point at which hunters and shooters won’t have to sustain further hearing loss when enjoying their favorite pastimes. And the legislation would simply cut out some of the government red tape currently required to purchase suppressors.
And while anti-gunners claim suppressors are sought by criminals and will be increasingly used by them, that simply isn’t true. First, criminals wouldn’t be able to legally purchase suppressors if these measures are passed. In truth, criminals prefer small, powerful firearms, primarily handguns, that they can easily conceal under their clothing. Suppressors roughly double the overall length of handguns—making them much more difficult to conceal—and add considerable length to long guns, which are rarely used in crimes anyway.
Fact is, Watts and other anti-gun advocates either don’t care about the truth or they have simply been watching too much TV, where suppressed firearms oftentimes appear to actually be “silent.” That doesn’t make their lies about these devices true.
In the end, NRA-ILA’s Cox said it best: “Gun owners and sportsmen should be able to enjoy their outdoor heritage with the tools necessary to do so safely.” “This bill makes it easier for them to do that.”