Suppressor? I Just Met Her!

Dear Senator Pridemore:

I write to you to urge you to support 2011 HB1016, which would amend RCW 9.41.250. As the statute is currently written, firearm suppressors are not legal in our state under any circumstances. Washington is among a small minority of states (13) which allow no possession of firearm suppressors whatsoever. Amending this statute to allow suppressors to be possessed in accordance with Federal law would assist law enforcement and would make the shooting sports safer by reducing hearing loss to shooters.

This legislation would not impair public safety in any way. The use of suppressors in the commission of crimes, in states where they are permitted, is so rare as to be almost nonexistent. Suppressors are poorly suited to use in criminal activity, because they are very bulky and expensive. Contrary to Hollywood myth, they do not ‘silence’ a gun. They merely reduce the noise signature to levels which do not cause hearing damage. I have fired lawfully-owned suppressed weapons in Oregon where they are legal, and in my experience suppressed large-caliber handguns still produce a distinctive and conspicuous ‘bang’ marginally louder than a vigorous handclap. It’s still noisy, but cannot cause hearing damage, and their use would be a benefit to those hunters and shooters who jumped through the Federal hoops to possess them.

This legislation would not ‘open the floodgates’ to widespread public sales of suppressors, because Federal law places significant costs, hurdles, and restrictions on their possession. Before taking possession of a suppressor, a would-be purchaser must submit an application and a $200 fee to the U.S. Treasury Department Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The AFTE conducts a thorough background check before approving of the transfer and issuing the applicant a tax stamp. Only with this stamp can the applicant take possession of the suppressor. Only the most law-abiding citizens can possess them under Federal law: convicted felons, undocumented aliens, minors, domestic abusers, drug addicts, and the mentally defective are prohibited.

At today’s hearing for this bill, there was no reported testimony against it, even from law enforcement. They understand that this law will not endanger public safety, and will not lead to a flood of ‘silent’ gun crimes or illegal suppressors. It will merely bring Washington into line with Federal restrictions, along with the thirty-eight other states that permit firearm suppressors.

Thank you for your time and attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

Christopher J. Dumm
Vancouver

comments

  1. avatar Ralph says:

    In Massachusetts, supressors are known to be evil, like adjustable stocks.

  2. avatar JOE MATAFOME says:

    Does anyone know if the $200 stamp tax is per unit or a one time fee. I would like a few of these because I don’t want to harm anyone’s hearing. I hope they will make some for my 500’s cuz these lil basterds are VERY LOUD. LOL

    1. avatar Ralph says:

      Joe, it’s not a license so I’m pretty sure it’s $200 per item — so if you have an NFA firearm that would cost $200, and if you put a supressor on it that would be another $200, etc. The $200 tax was prohibitive in 1934. Now, it’s an ouchie.

  3. avatar Gunnutmegger says:

    Saw a Beretta Tomcat with a suppressor on it. While not large, the can was big enough to completely mask the standard sights on the gun.

  4. avatar Chris Dumm says:

    The $200 tax stamp is required for each suppressor owned. Once you have the tax stamp and the ‘can’, however, you can attach it to any threaded-muzzle firearm in the appropriate caliber. A long .22 suppressor is a good choice if you can only choose one, since you can attach it to your .22 rifles, your .22 pistols and (if it’s long enough) your AR, SCAR, or AK-74.

    1. avatar TCBA_Joe says:

      I wouldn’t put a .22 can on an AR, SCAR, or AK. I’ve never heard of a .30 rated .22 can.

      There are caliber restrictions on most cans, and there are also multi-caliber rated cans. With a .22 can, the best choice is some sort of takedown can due to lead buildup over time, which will require disassembly and cleaning by the manufacturer. Most 5.56 cans are not takedown.

      Example, if you want to fire .22 and 5.56 through one can, the Liberty Constitution is your best choice. It’s a takedown 5.56 can.

      If you want to shoot 5.56, 6.8, 7.62×39, .308 through one can, a .30 can (like the soon to be released AAC 762-SDN-6) would deal with almost all of your hosts.

      However, I don’t know of any .22 can rated to .30. There are also special issues when suppressing AKs.

      Do some reading over at a sight like silencertalk.com, silencerresearch.com, nfatalk.com, or the suppressor board on ar15.com also, check out canu.com

      Silencers are great, but if you’re interested in one, know the limitations and realities and what you’re looking for.

      1. avatar E. Zach Lee-Wright says:

        Do some reading over at a sight like silencertalk.com, silencerresearch.com, nfatalk.com, or the suppressor board on ar15.com also, check out canu.com

        Hello Joe. I believe you intended to use the word “site” instead of “sight” here.

  5. avatar Mike the Limey says:

    I’ve never understood the draconian restrictions the US places on possession of suppressors.
    Here in the UK they are an everyday item used for pest control & cost less than $30 for those used on air & .22rf rifles, the former requiring no paperwork whatsoever & anything else easily applied for with permission almost invariably granted on the grounds of hearing protection.
    I guess some people think they make guns more lethal or something – probably watched too many spy movies……

  6. avatar TCBA_Joe says:

    E. Zach Lee-Wright, yup. Typo. Thanks.

    Mike, the one good thing that has come from the restrictions is the quality of these suppressors. These are developed to withstand a life time of abuse and need to be very well designed to fight for the small market that exists. There are several shady fly-by-night manufacturers out there, but they need to compete with the likes of Sure Fire, AAC, Gemtech, and others.

    That said, now that the technology is there and the value exists, lets get rid of the restrictions.

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