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.