Washington Post on the Hearing Protection Act: Nyet!

In their anti-Hearing Protection Act editorial — strangely and sloppily titled Congress should turn a deaf ear to the NRA’s campaign against silencers — the Beltway pseudo-intellectuals start their screed by calling the NFA Act “one of the oldest and most effective firearms controls on the book.” Well of course it is! Because . . .

There are some 300 million guns in private hands but only about 900,000 silencers registered as of last year.

The statement presupposes that firearms equipped with silencers present a greater danger to society than those that aren’t. That’s such a bald-faced lie that even The Post felt obliged to submit supporting evidence.

The sound of gunfire also has benefits, health- and safety-wise. The “bang” can signal to bystanders to take cover or help police to locate a threat. Maybe that’s why they say rifles “report.”

To be sure, the noise-reduction devices at issue do not eliminate gun noise; they reduce it by 30 decibels or so, making “suppressor” a more accurate term, and mitigating whatever additional risk the general public might face if the law results in more use of silencers, including unlawful use, as opponents fear.

Silencers are almost never used in murders and other crimes under the current restrictive law, but certainly they would be used in more crimes if there were more of them in circulation.

Wait. What? Silencers prevent escape and ID when criminals go ballistic, but they’re not that bad? Yup, The Post undermines its own argument.

Even a marginal increase in risk to the population cannot be justified, unless the harms to the minority from current policy are very severe and there are no means to reduce them other than the proposed legislation. In fact, the harms to shooters are modest — somewhat elevated risk of non-total hearing loss, essentially — and effective alternatives to silencers are readily available.

“Somewhat elevated risk of non-total hearing loss.” Could they be any more vague? Or insensitive to the suffering caused by “non-total” hearing loss. Doubtful. And this is as specific as they get.

On March 16, the National Hearing Conservation Organization issued an official position on Recreational Firearm Noise, which emphasized that hearing loss from exposure to gunfire is “largely preventable with the use of appropriately fitted hearing protection devices,” such as earplugs or earmuffs. The problem is that firearms users generally don’t take these simple precautions. Suppressors might help, NHCA acknowledged, but not “without the wearing of hearing protection.” In other words, “manufacturers cannot guarantee that use of noise suppressors alone will prevent hearing loss.”

Funny, but I can’t recall a single time I saw a firearms owner who didn’t wear ear protection when shooting. And I can think of dozens — myself included — who suffer from hearing loss anyway.

Despite the obvious benefits of equipping guns with silencers, The Post reckons the issue can’t be addressed before the NRA launches a major pro-ear muff campaign (like they don’t advise ear protection in every course they’ve ever taught) and does some research. Apparently what’s going on now is “just the usual political noise.”

Ain’t that the truth.

comments

  1. avatar anonymoose says:

    That fact remains that there are no threaded barrels for Hi-Points, and even if there were, you can’t stuff a heavy suppressor in your pocket very easily when your pants are already falling down.

    1. avatar Nathan Fellows says:

      Exactly, if I were going to make a crime, it seems like it would be more prudent to not make the gun intend to use more unwieldy and somewhat less accurate.

      Plus, does no one understand that if criminals want suppression, they can just use off the shelf oil filters right now? I don’t see a lot of that happening. Oil filters are pretty damn effective at cutting down the noise and adapters are readily available.

  2. avatar strych9 says:

    There are some 300 million guns in private hands but only about 900,000 silencers registered as of last year.

    I would take this sentence to be an admission of something pretty much everyone here already knows; that gun control isn’t about safety or “bad guys” it’s about restricting access for pretty much everyone.

    There’s really no other way to interpret the celebration of raw numbers like this. They’re basically saying that the less there are out there the better no matter who owns them.

    1. avatar Geoff PR says:

      If the NFA Act, “one of the oldest and most effective firearms controls on the book.”, according to them, is as successful as they claim, then they’ll have no problems with re-opening the machine gun registry again.

      RIGHT?

      Sounds like a plan! Let’s have them add that to the HPA, while they’re at it…

      *snicker*

      1. avatar strych9 says:

        You make too much sense. I humbly suggest you ask Ralph for his recommendation on the best glue or glues.

  3. avatar C Otto says:

    “I can’t recall a single time I saw a firearms owner who didn’t wear ear protection when shooting”

    Really? Never? Cause I have. I did, especially in HS/college. And now i carry ear plugs in my rig to keep it from getting worse…when i shoot, not just driving around.

    1. avatar st381183 says:

      I guess if I had seen you shooting recreationaly without ear protection at the range I would have warned you of the dangers. I too have never seen someone willing shoot recreationaly without hearing protection.

      1. avatar Defens says:

        In the last 15-20 years, maybe. But before that it was far more common to NOT wear hearing protection than to do so. Earplugs and muffs weren’t even that available. And for the generation just before mine (baby boomer) ear protection was likely seen as a badge of weakness – real men didn’t wear ear plugs: shooting, on the job, etc.

        1. avatar Eremeya says:

          Hearing protection was not that available 15-20 years ago??? Really??? Any hardware store or lumber yard has stocked them for a lot longer than that and even the small towns usually had at least one of those two types of stores.

        2. avatar AFGus says:

          Uh….sorry. My Dad started teaching me to shoot when I was eight (51 years ago), and we not only had, but he made me wear hearing protection every time we went out. I joined the Air Force in 1977 and during M-16 qualifications we had ear muffs as well as ear plugs….which were absolutely required on the range. If anyone that far back didn’t wear hearing protection when shooting, it was simply a personnel decision, but it certainly wasn’t because it wasn’t available or that people weren’t aware that gunfire was dangerous to hearing if protection wasn’t used.

    2. avatar Anon in CT says:

      I certainly didn’t wear proper protection when we were doing “move and shoot” jungle lanes, because with the plugs in I could not communicate effectively. Usual practice was to plug the ear near the gun and leave the other one empty – and I am paying for it now. We also almost never wore earpro when shooting blank ammo, which is a lot quieter than the real stuff but not truly safe.

      When shooting indoors I always double up, and I still don’t feel like it’s really enough when shooting a .308 or equivalent – or when someone near you is shooting one.

    3. avatar Big Bill says:

      I enlisted in ’66. Hearing protection was a helmet liner.
      I don’t have hearing loss per se, but I do have tinnitus that interferes with hearing in places with high background noise.
      So, yes, a lot of us have hearing problems from lack of hearing protection.

    4. avatar TX_Lawyer says:

      Wearing earpro while hunting can be a serious problem. Especially if you are hunting with someone and need to communicate quietly. Sure, we could all learn one motionless handed sign language or buy some fancy $1000 “appropriately fitted hearing protection devices” that let you hear while dampening harmful sounds. Just make sure you get some for everybody around you and always wear it in case you ever need to use your gun in a self defense situation.

      1. avatar PeterZ in West Tennessee says:

        Decent muffs with microphones and speakers can be had for less than $40. They allow comfortable conversation and then shut off at loud sounds. Even dropping the slide on my 1911 causes mine to cut out for a second.

        1. avatar TX_Lawyer says:

          Glasses effect the “appropriately fitted” part of that. Also, they get really uncomfortable in the heat after a while. Also, I always find muffs to interfere with my cheek weld. I always double up on the range and use those same $40 muffs, so I can hear over the ear plugs.

          Anyway you cut it, earpro is uncomfortable after extended periods. I’ve never tried the $1K stuff, but at that price, I can’t imagine it not being comfortable. It’s also custom molded, so it should be “appropriately fitted.”

  4. avatar Jomo says:

    I have seen a lot of shooters not wearing quality ear-pro. It’s especially prevalent among hunters. (Need to hear Bambi or Porky sneaking around.). Let’s not behave the way they are and ignore some hard truths on our own side. A lot of us aren’t religious about ear-pro. Often times I see a shooter on the range with a set of cheap 18-20 dB muffs on because they’re ‘less bulky’. Watch some You-Tube vids and you’ll see lots of idiots wearing cheap and poorly fitted foamies. A 160 dB gunshot reduced by 10-18 is still hearing unsafe, especially on an indoor range. I double-bag my ears religiously (hi-quality 28dB foamies under 30dB muffs for a total of about 40dB). I look like dork-on-the-range, but I’m not losing my hearing. The HPA would be a boon to all of us, non-shooter’s included, but let’s not pretend it’s the only way to protect our hearing.

    1. avatar Marco says:

      122 decibels is STILL very loud. Why not add to it?

      And yes, HPA IS the only way to protect hearing without looking like a dork.

      I refuse to acknowledge looking like a dork is a possibility. No.

  5. avatar Serpent Vision says:

    “I can’t recall a single time I saw a firearms owner who didn’t wear ear protection when shooting.” – Never been hunting with people who are trying to listen for game rustling, or trying to call waterfowl or turkeys and listening for the response from the birds?

  6. avatar DaveL says:

    Even a marginal increase in risk to the population cannot be justified, unless the harms to the minority from current policy are very severe and there are no means to reduce them other than the proposed legislation

    This approach to natural individual rights out to scare the living hell out of every American.

    That is all.

  7. avatar Al says:

    Is Russkiy an official language ov Kalifornia yet?

  8. avatar Ogre says:

    Pravda on the Potomac (i.e., the WaPo) is an elitist lefty rag that comes out with periodic anti-gun editorials/rants backed up by the best of progressive common-sense. It’s a duty with these big city liberal newspapers. The authors of their editorials are so insulated from the reality of firearms that I don’t give credence to what they say about them – they get all their information from the Brady campaign or Bloomburg. I only scan the WaPo (or any other liberal news source) as part of being aware of what the opposition is up to.

  9. avatar JohnnyL says:

    “FACT: Silencers do not protect your hearing.” Gabby Giffords tweeted on March 13, 2017

    https://twitter.com/resp_solutions/status/841311642696609794

    1. avatar Jon in CO says:

      If this is true, and they don’t do anything, what’s the issue with their legality? If they don’t help much at all, and ONLY reduce 30db, why are they so against a tube of metal? The only thing I’ve seen anti’s cry about is “shooting will not be heard”,(debunked easily by 100’s of people) or “they don’t do much so there’s no point in having them”. Again, if they are completely useless, why can’t I have one?

  10. avatar Reality says:

    I am deaf in the left ear from a .44 mag with a ported barrel. It was made worse by firing a shorty mosin with a brake without ear pro for several years. After losing 80% in my left ear I finally started wearing ear pro after 20 years of shooting without it.obviously everyone doesn’t use it.

  11. avatar CarlosT says:

    When I go to the range, I always double up on hearing protection, but even so, I know my tinnitus has gotten worse. If, generally speaking, shooters used silencers then that with some version of hearing protection would put shooting into the hearing safe range.

  12. avatar million says:

    Suppressors effectively double the length of handguns. They would be a net positive for gun safety to the general public because evildoers would be unable to conceal their firearm.

    There’s your rebuttal.

  13. avatar Bud Harton says:

    This is so much crap.
    A huge $200 tax stamp on silencers was added to the 1934 National Firearm Act in order to SLOW OR STOP THE POACHING of deer. White Tail deer is this country were almost exterminated during the depression because people were hunting deer out of season because they were hungry. Silencer prohibitions had absolutely nothing to do with crime prevention.
    You would think all of these so-called “experts” would take the trouble and research the true history and not just make up lies to report.

    1. avatar Mike B in WI says:

      Interesting. I have never heard that. Do you have any citations for your information? That would be very good to have to counter the anti-gun (and anti-HPA) folks

      1. avatar Bud Harton says:

        Sure.

        “Criminal Use of Silencers” by Paul Clark and printed in the Western Criminalogy Review in 2007. It is found in the second paragraph of page 48. Here is the link:
        http://www.westerncriminology.org/documents/WCR/v08n2/clark.pdf

        There is absolutely NO discussion of silencers (also known as mufflers in that era) in the testimony leading up to the 1934 NFA. You can read the complete testimony and discussion of the 1934 NFA on line at this link:

        https://play.google.com/books/reader?id=DFwWAAAAIAAJ&printsec=frontcover&pg=GBS.PP1

        1. avatar TX_Lawyer says:

          Nice work Bud.

  14. avatar The Duke says:

    Isn’t the The WaPoo always ranting and raving about how to help and improve things for the minorities?

    They call us a minority (and we are bigger than some of the new minority groups) in the article and don’t want to help us with difficulties in our lives.

    As always the needs of the preferred and selective majorities outweigh the rights of entire country

  15. avatar James Earl Hoffa says:

    They are full of crap. I carried an M16 A2 for three years non suppressed in Iraq. Then on another three-year tour I was carrying an M249 saw and let me tell you I can’t hear for crap anymore and I have hearing aids so they are full of it when they tell you that it is a minor loss and hearing. Let them stand around all day about 3 foot from the end of a 249 and I’ll rip off about twenty-eight thousand rounds for them and let’s see how much hearing loss they have. Absolutely retarded these liberals I swear to God morons.

  16. avatar Anonymous says:

    freedom hating liberals aren’t supposed to let it slip that disarmament is the goal. They let it slip here that the goal is to reduce the number of silencers to as minimum as possible in circulation. As minimum as possible and is a branch right off the tree of freedom hating liberals seeking disarmament. The hearing protection act does nothing more than minimize paperwork, waive the ridiculous tax, and move the background checks to NICS (which is supposed to be “instant.”). Instead! They emphasize that it was successful in that it reduced the number in circulation. They let it slip! And we should be rubbing salt in this everywhere we can. Everyone needs to know their goals. And they let those goals slip.

    It is obvious that they care much more about de-incentivising ownership (kin to ban) rather than allowing people to have it and undergo a background check.

  17. avatar Jeff says:

    So their stance is they make guns too quiet, so people won’t be able to get away from a “madman” but they’re still so loud that recreational shooters still need hearing protection?

    That’s what I gathered from their “article.”

  18. avatar Darkman says:

    Been hunting for 50 years. Never once wore ear protection. Never will because you can’t hear game approaching, At the range I wear protection every time. It has it’s place. It just isn’t appropriate everywhere. Suppressor are a tool for a purpose. We can’t expect people with no experience to understand. As I watched the blind man picked up his hammer and began to saw.

  19. avatar Razorback says:

    The anti’s opposition to suppressors is prima facia evidence that safety and crime reduction have nothing at all to do with their calls for gun control. A safety device, that has no meaningful utility to a criminal, is being opposed by them because, guns. It occurs to me that this is completely in line with their so-called reasoning vis-a-vis “assault weapons”. They can’t prove that there is any danger from the evil features on “AWs” but they sure don’t like them so they claim they make firearms more dangerous. Now, they claim suppressors do the same – make guns extra super scary deadly – even though they clearly don’t know much about them and probably wouldn’t know a decibel if one bit them.

    As has been noted above, their focus on the small number of suppressors in private hands when compared to firearms overall, as a good thing, with no meaningful justification, is transparent. They are saying that fewer suppressors is a good thing with no reasoning whatsoever as to why. I’m pretty sure their entire case is something like this:

    Guns R Bad, Mkay
    Guns with extra features, whatever those features are, are even more Bad, Mkay
    Suppressors are an extra feature so they’re Bad, Mkay
    Guns R Bad, Mkay

    That’s about all I can get from this or any of the other recent pieces opposing suppressors being removed from the NFA. In fact, I bet that many of these antis would think it would be just peachy to ban things like scopes, slings, shell holders and the like since those things, like pistol grips, flash hiders and shoulder things that go up are extra features that, in their feeble minds, must only be there so we crazy gun nuts can murder-death-kill everyone and everything.

    1. avatar TX_Lawyer says:

      I think you are giving them too much credit. Your argument is they want to ban things they don’t understand because of their unreasoned emotional response to it. They’re just ignorant. I believe they are targeting thing that make firearms enjoyable. They’re not ignorant, they are malicious.

      My main premise is that they gun banners’ ultimate goal is power. Another premise is that guns are are tools that grant the wielder much more power than they would have otherwise. To get and maintain exclusive power, the gun banners’ need to eliminate the wide spread ownership of the greatest equalizing tool that has ever been invented.

      The main things the antis have been trying to ban are MSR’s, the most popular rifle in America, and MSR accessories. Now they are losing it over silencers. The one thing all of these have in common is that they make shooting more fun and accessible. They also all make shooting safer in one way or another.

      The more fun and/or accessible shooting is, the more people will enjoy it and do it. The more people shooting, the more people who will support actual common sense gun laws like the 2A.

      The safer shooting is, the less “cause” to ban guns their will be.

      Everything they do is done to diminish the power of their enemies and enhance their own.

  20. avatar DonS says:

    They (we maybe) have this all wrong. We can’t prevent hearing loss until everyone is using a silencer. The government should be giving them away – to prevent hearing loss – oh, think of the humanity, the suffering the kids . . .

    Seriously, was at the range last week shooting a suppressed rifle – got into position, working on getting a good cheek weld, and pushed my headphones a bit on the stock – exactly the same time my neighbor, next lane to my right, let lose with a SBR .223 – damn, those things are loud. Wait – does the above argument mean everyone needs a SBR – cause it will let more people know there is a shooter sooner ?

    DS

  21. avatar rt66paul says:

    While you can still have hearing loss from supressed firearms, it would be that much worse without using any protection. It will help those who are close by, but not shooting, like the workers at the range, or other people that are a distance away who are trying to talk, or in extreme cases, living within 1/2 mile of a skeet range and trying to sleep in on Saturday mornings.

    My friends that worked in loud industrial areas that barely wore protection can not hear today. I always wore hearing protection, even at basketball games, I have some slight hearing loss. The more you are in these loud areas, the worse your hearing will be. There is no reason NOT to use what you can. A supressed handgun will be much larger and harder tohide on your person.

  22. avatar pete says:

    They’re quick to insist others should be exposed to hazards. I would never encourage unsafe behavior, but if these people aren’t, hypothetically, willing to take a chance equal to the odds of having to shoot in self defence, and if they lose stand in a room with with no ear pro and shoot a pistol they’re hypocrites. Music might not be as enjoyable afterward.

  23. avatar Ralph says:

    But but but — if it saves one eardrum . . . .

    1. avatar pete says:

      One cochlea lost is too many. We have to do all we can!

  24. avatar Jonathan - Houston says:

    Wait, so this means they propose to ban vehicle mufflers, too? After all, with all the drive-by shootings, various get away cars, and all the terrorist attacks of late using vehicles to mow down victims, surely we should mandate more warning sounds. Not only banning mufflers, we might want to impose installing loudeners.

  25. avatar Cogline says:

    Why is the NRA campaigning against silencers?

  26. avatar Chip in Florida says:

    “…manufacturers cannot guarantee that use of noise suppressors alone will prevent hearing loss.”

    I just spent five minutes using the search tools in my internet browser and I couldn’t find any suppressor manufacturer or seller trying to make such a guarantee.

    1. avatar Big Bill says:

      ““…manufacturers cannot guarantee that use of noise suppressors alone will prevent hearing loss.”

      I just spent five minutes using the search tools in my internet browser and I couldn’t find any suppressor manufacturer or seller trying to make such a guarantee.”

      I think that is what was being said; they don’t make such a guarantee. Your search only shows that “manufacturers cannot guarantee that use of noise suppressors alone will prevent hearing loss.”

  27. avatar Eremeya says:

    When I was learning how to shoot I would never use hearing protection, I was only using .22 rifles and shotguns, then I got an SKS and after the first time using it I learned to use hearing protection. My ears still keep reminding me about that lesson 10-15 years later.

    1. avatar Big Bill says:

      Obviously, your shotgun want’s a 12 ga. 🙂
      My 12 gauges are much louder than my SKS.

      When I let loose with a 12 gauge, others at the range sometimes stop to look, it’s that loud. With a 20″ or 18.5″ bbl, the noise is truly wonderful.

  28. avatar David says:

    For the hunters commenting that they don’t wear earpro because they can’t hear the game animals I’d suggest they familiarize themselves with Walker’s Game Ear and other electronic earpro where you can hear the animals up to 5X better and preserve your hearing at the same time. Been around for decades. Cheers!

    1. avatar Big Bill says:

      +1

  29. avatar The Rookie says:

    “effective alternatives to silencers are readily available.”

    Oil filters? plastic 2-liter bottles?

  30. avatar JoeLiberty says:

    My favorite part is where she applies THE EXACT OPPOSITE of strict scrutiny.
    Instead of “must serve a compelling gov’t interest and be the least restrictive means possible.”
    She says “Even a marginal gov’t interest can be justified, using the most restrictive means possible.”
    LOL

  31. avatar TX_Lawyer says:

    I was with my FFL last night who is an LTC. He was talking about how he couldn’t hear his wife anymore. (Women have higher pitched voices than men and that is often the hearing that goes first). After his doctor tested his hearing, he asked if he was ever around guns. First question the guy asked in regards to hearing loss is if the patient was ever around guns. My FFL said he always wears hearing protection. I asked if he doubled up. He didn’t hear me.

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