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The main argument gun control advocates use against removing silencers from the National Firearms Act: witnesses wouldn’t hear gunshots during a crime. Criminals could use stealth to get away with their firearms-related crimes. This is simply not true.

For one thing, the screams and carnage created by a firearm during a crime is pretty easy to hear. And see. For another, in the main, silencers don’t operate like they do in Hollywood. There is no pffft. It’s still a bang.

But don’t take my word for it. Check this out from Ralph Clark, the chief executive of ShotSpotter, quoted in The Washington Post’s fact checker column (no less).

“In regard to gun silencers, it is more accurate to call them suppressors, as they suppress the impulsive sound of gunfire, not wholly eliminate it,” said Ralph Clark, the chief executive of ShotSpotter. “We have successfully if not inadvertently detected confirmed suppressed gunfire within our existing deployments. Although we have not formally tested the theoretical impact to our system, we intend to do some targeted testing in the near future. We believe we will have various options ranging from increasing our sensor array density to developing software/firmware to address the detection of suppressed gunfire if it were to become a widespread issue.”

If a silencer-equipped firearms is loud enough for ShotSpotter’s detection system (without modification) they’re loud enough to the human ear to detect.

Which is why the virulently anti-gun, anti-suppressor WaPo gave Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s Tweet “When someone gets shot by a gun with a silencer, it’s quiet. Witnesses might not hear. Police will be less likely to track down the shooter.” three-out-of-four Pinnochios. According to their guidelines, that means it contains “significant factual error and/or obvious contradictions.”

Will that stop the antis from continuing to use this argument against suppressors/silencers? It will not. Which tells you something you already knew, that needs saying nonetheless.

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  1. No surprise from Gillebrand. An early campaign worker for carpet-bagging Hillary when she was running for the US Senate years ago…appointed by the governor of New York to Hillary’s seat when she became Secretary of State.

    But also ironic, with this little tidbit from Wikipedia regarding her run for the US House years ago:
    ” The American Conservative stated after her eventual victory, “Gillibrand won her upstate New York district by running to the right: she campaigned against amnesty for illegal immigrants, promised to restore fiscal responsibility to Washington, and pledged to protect gun rights.”

    But look what happens when you hang with Clinton, Schumer, Andy Cuomo….

    • Yup she was Annie fucking Oakley running for Senate. Once in she bought off enough special interests to make it a lifetime job. Wench.

  2. The whole contra-suppressor argument is akin to their general argument against guns which goes something like “Guns are dangerous and complicated tools that require extensive training to operate safely but guns are also so simple that they make murder easy”.

    It’s idiocy of the highest order, but hey, you fight intellectual battles with the wits you’ve got.

  3. So…which is it?

    Are silencers so effective that nobody can hear criminals shoot guns?

    Or are silencers so ineffective that shooters still need ear protection?

    • Silencers make is harder (not impossible, unless they are using damn good suppressed firearms) to hear criminals (but I don’t think the ability to hear them will help one way or another) and depending on the firearm, ammo and silencer, they may or may not be hearing safe. However, they will always require a lower level of additional hearing protection than will be need if you don’t suppress them. There, good enough.

    • Maybe suppressors are only silent for criminals?

      I thought mine were broken because they all still ‘make noise’. I see now that the problem is that I’m not a criminal. My ‘silenced’ guns will definitely be silent then.

      Or would that be a ‘use-based’ redesign?


    • I think the argument here is that, even though ShotSpotter is not a completely reliable system, it was still able to pick up suppressed gunfire. Thus, the “quiet” argument is comically absurd.

    • Actually, you do use discredited authorities when your debate opponent supports such authorities. “Even X says that your claim is not true.”

    • My takeaway was that someone who has every financial and ideological incentive to be against suppressors was actually honest about it from a semi-scientific standpoint.

  4. It does NOT eliminate the sound of gunfire. It only suppresses the sound in the same way a muffler on a car does not silence the sound of a car but does reduce the sound a car makes. Every mechanic in the world knows how this works.

    It also doesn’t eliminate the muzzle flash each shot makes just as a flash suppressor doesn’t eliminate the muzzle flash, it redirects it so as not to degrade the shooters night vision. Still, the anti-gun crowd continues to use both false claims though any soldier knows the truth if the antis would just ask and then repeat the truth instead of ignoring it and lying about it.

    Of course, they will continue to lie, distract, etc. They will never stop.

    • I don’t know, was almost hit by a new Mercedes coming out of a blind ally when I was a kid. Surprised me just how quiet it was.

  5. Suppressors won’t become widely used by violent criminals because they make handguns less concealable and more bulky and they don’t really give you a stealthy advantage with the sound reduction unless you’re shooting 22. It’s not like they’re going to spend the extra money for a marginal benefit.

    They’re not used in crimes in Europe on rifles. Although handguns are pretty tightly regulated in most of Europe, there are lots and lots of rifles with suppressors.

    If you’re a professional assassin or hitman and believe a suppressor will help you go undetected, laws regulating or banning suppressors are not going to affect you because…. you’re a professional assassin or hitman.

    Even if suppressors did increase crime or make criminals harder to detect, by the right to life, liberty, property, and the 2nd amendment, we have a right to them that shall not be questioned.

  6. I’m ready to see HPA pass with flying colors. It’s already legal for me to shoot in my backyard. I would, however, love to do so without alerting my neighbors who are few and far between.

  7. I seriously hope the HPA provisions pass under the new SHARE Act mostly unscathed.

    It is so painful to argue with someone so blatantly wrong who is unable or unwilling to see their errors.

  8. This issue tracks with the UBC issue, only the anti-gunners argument flips. Anti-gunners claim even though UBC won’t stop every criminal from getting a weapon, it helps, so we should do it. Anti-gunners argument against suppressors ( one of them) is that you still need hearing protection, so if a suppressor still needs hearing protection, why make them legal?

    Same answer: It Helps.

    • UBCs (actually, BGCs of all stripes) don’t help in any way whatsoever. BGCs don’t keep “prohibited persons” from possessing, obtaining, or transferring firearms. They may minimally shift the edge-case behavior of criminals in obtaining firearms – at best.

      UBCs will be utterly ignored by “prohibited persons”.

      • They do help in one way only, people who want to be sure they are not selling to “prohibited” person. Now, if you could do them for free, and not have a trace on the gun being sold….

        • Is there any legal problem with making NICS public? I see logistical and ideological problems, and the ACLU would throw a fit regardless, but is there any clear legal prohibition about access to criminal histories?

        • Illinois did it with FOID cards, you can check on state website. Don’t see why it would not work with State ID / DLs

  9. I will freely admit that certain suppressed subsonic .22 rifles are pretty darn quiet. As in the bolt cycling is the loudest part of firing. And such builds would probably become common when suppressors become deregulated.

    So what? Do we corner ourselves with some absurd notion of noise/power ratio? Screw that noise.

    Shall. Not. Be. Infringed.

  10. Their argument is null and void for many reasons, but i think the following should be used as often as possible, as it seems to me to be the most compelling.
    functional firearm “silencers” are not hard to make, at all. One does not need much in the way of skills or eduction to put one together using untraceable generic parts that can be purchased at most auto parts or hardware stores. if criminals are not using homemade “silencers” currently, why would they suddenly start using commercially made versions?

    • Playing devils advocate here: Maybe they are, and they work well enough that they don’t get caught.

      It’s awful hard to prove a negative statement, but frankly it doesn’t matter if its true or false. Our rights are not subject to limitations simply because some scum might choose to abuse them.

  11. See, this is what happens when you put mufflers on trucks, like in Nice and London. It’s quiet. Witnesses might not hear. Police would be less likely to track down the driver.

    It’s also what happens when Chuck Schumer chooses your Senator.

  12. HPA has become a part of a larger, omnibus bill named SHARE ACT. The latter also contains provisions to repeal “sporting purpose” requirements. Now we need to attach an amendment to the SHARE ACT that would repeal 922 (o) (the MG ban).

  13. A suppressor reduces, to some degree, the level of the sound from the muzzle. If the bullet is supersonic, it does nothing to reduce the sonic boom. While watching a video that compared suppressed and unsuppressed rifle shots, I was surprised at how much of the sound we hear comes just from the bullet.

    The biggest benefit of suppressors goes to the neighborhood surrounding an outdoor range. The gunshots still are audible but not as loud. If HPA or something like it passes, I expect the development of firearms with integral suppressors and that the use of suppressors will be required at ranges just to reduce noise pollution.

    • Not shooting subsonic out of a suppressor kind of defeats the purpose if you are going for total stealth, but they still help a lot even on supersonic ammo.

  14. The real argument against the argument against suppressors is that loud guns don’t mean it’s easier for police to locate and identify the shooter. Chicago has a homicide clearance rate of about 30%, according to the Chicago PD. Other big cities are around 50%. Does that mean Chicago criminals’ guns are quieter? Of course not. There are 100 other reasons why 70% of Chicago murders are unsolved. But being able to hear a gun shot has zero police value.

  15. The wait times alone for a tax stamp have caused some people to want to beat people to within an inch of their life with a wet flip flop. Then there’s the $200. . .

    The hearing protection act saves hearing and protects lives.

  16. Anyone who thinks that legalizing silencers will somehow increase their availability to criminals clearly doesn’t know how easy they are to make. If suppressed firearms used in the commission of crimes was going to be an issue, then it would have started a long time ago.

    • Suppressors are used in Hollywood movies.
      Some movies have just absolutely robbed people
      Robbery is a crime
      Suppressors have been used in crimes.

      Some (D) Congressmen and Senators have lied in congressional hearings and debates about the use of suppressors in crimes
      Senators lying in congressional hearings is a crime.
      Suppressors have been used (anecdotally) in crime.

      Silencers/Suppressors are regulated by the ATF under the National Firearms Act rules
      Suppressor regulation is a violation of the 2nd Amendment of the Constitution
      Violations of the Constitution are a crime.
      Suppressors have been involved in many crimes.

      See how easy the logic is?

  17. I don’t know about y’all, but if someone shoots an un-supressed gun at me, I can usually jump out of the way before the bullet gets to me. That’s not possible if I can’t hear it. /sarc, very much so

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