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Anyone who thinks the Washington Post is unbiased in their opinions about firearms and silencers hasn’t been paying attention. The latest fact-free opinion piece is written by Robert J. Spitzer, a New York academic who seems to have about as much experience with firearms and American gun laws as a small child would have with the latest Supreme Court decisions. I haven’t done a good point by point takedown in a while and this one was just screaming for it. Shall we see what Mr. Spitzer has to say?

Ari Fleischer, press secretary for President George W. Bush, chanced to be passing through the Fort Lauderdale airport on Jan. 6 when he heard what he described as “multiple gunshots ringing out” close by. “We all realized it was gunfire, and it was coming from the level below us at the escalator.” Five people were killed, and six were injured. Fleischer and others could easily have walked straight into the line of fire had they not been able to hear those shots.

The implication is obvious here: gunshots are a great way to alert people to danger and get them to scatter, reducing the overall death toll. On the surface it seems like a good idea but there are some major issues.

First and foremost a “silencer” doesn’t actually make a gun silent, something Robert can confirm — he still blames an incident with a GLOCK 19 and a SilencerCo Osprey for some hearing loss he suffered, but I think he just wants an excuse to ignore me. Silencers will reduce the noise a gun makes but they cannot completely eliminate it. Suppressed guns are still loud enough to be heard from across an airport baggage claim.

The other issue is one of weapon selection, which is something I know very well given my background as a terrorism risk analyst. The shooter in that case used a handgun because it was easy to conceal and readily deployable from concealment. That’s the same reason gang members tend to use handguns for their crimes instead of rifles: they prefer the ability to easily conceal and dispose of the firearm over firepower or capacity. Silencers add a significant amount of length to the end of the gun, making it more difficult to conceal and heavier to carry. In the weapon selection rankings a suppressed handgun would probably rate below most rifles.

Gunfire — loud, sharp, rude, abrupt — is an important safety feature of any firearm. From potential victims who seek to escape a mass shooting to a hiker being alerted to the presence of a hunter in the woods, the sound warns bystanders of potentially lethal danger. Yet gun advocates insist there is a greater danger: hearing loss by gun owners.

I heard the same complaint from the Texas Parks & Wildlife guy who taught my hunter education course the year silencers were legalized, that silencers would make it more dangerous for people in the woods. There are two huge problems with the author’s premonitions of doom and gloom.

First, by the time you hear the gunshot it’s already too late. Sound usually travels slower than projectiles, so if you’re relying on the report of a rifle to alert you to danger then you are going to be way behind the power curve. Second, hunters are typically rather well trained marksmen. There might be the occasional bad shot or poor hunter who doesn’t pick a spot with a good backstop, but in general hunters hit what they are aiming at and do a good job of ensuring that no animals (human or otherwise) are injured except their intended target.

Moving on, the author’s biggest point seems to be that the massive perceived danger posed by the decriminalization of silencers is not outweighed by the health benefits of preventing hearing loss. He presents the issue of hearing loss as if it were a negligible risk, one that is either fabricated by gun owners or simply too insignificant a health hazard to warrant any consideration. The CDC disagrees and thinks that silencers are a good way to mitigate the considerable health risks to hearing loss from gun ranges.

The NRA is renewing with gusto its misbegotten push, begun in the last Congress, to make gun silencers easier to acquire by swiping a page from the public health community’s long-standing efforts to warn of the dangers of firearms. The Hearing Protection Act, which would remove federal registration and identification requirements for those seeking gun silencers, has received the blessing of President Trump’s son, Donald Jr., and the welcome of the gun-friendly 115th Congress. Even though silencer purchases are legal in all but eight states, advocates want to sweep aside background check and record-keeping requirements, such as photos and fingerprinting, first enacted as part of the National Firearms Act of 1934 , a law passed to curb gangster weapons such as submachine guns and sawed-off shotguns.

There ain’t a lick of fair and balanced reporting in that paragraph. If you didn’t know Spitzer’s viewpoint on guns you sure do now.

Silencers in and of themselves aren’t firearms, and that’s just a fact (no alternative facts need apply). If you insert a round of ammunition it will simply rattle around like a rain stick, not fire in a deadly manner. There’s no way you can use one to kill someone — unless you use it to beat someone to death. You still need an actual working firearm first which is subject to the same regulations that are currently in place. And given our current firearms laws the murder rate is at a 51 year low. This law doesn’t change a thing about the availability of guns.

Saying that the mere possession of a silencer is dangerous is like saying possession of a bottle cork means you are intoxicated. There’s a couple intermediate steps missing that Mr. Spitzer simply assumes will happen.

There’s a second lie in this paragraph. Spitzer states that the National Firearms Act was passed to keep gangsters from getting machine guns and sawn-off shotguns. This is true, but the implication is false. Gangsters were not using suppressed weapons in the 1930’s, and they still don’t use them today. Silencers were added to the National Firearms Act to punish poachers who would illegally kill deer to feed themselves and their families during the Great Depression. So while he got the reason behind the bill correct his implication that the National Firearms Act’s prohibition on silencers was a crime reduction measure is 100% false.

Beyond the familiar political imperative to eviscerate any and all gun laws — so why not this one? — the goal is clearly to boost silencer (advocates prefer the term “suppressor”) sales, which have already become a gun industry boomlet. Further proliferation of silencers would also have the commercial benefit of boosting gun sales, because most existing guns do not have the threaded barrels necessary to attach them.

Is the goal really to “boost silencer sales”? Or is the goal to allow hunters and recreational shooters to enjoy their firearms in a quieter and more relaxed environment?

One of the major issues with gun control activists like Mr. Spitzer appears to be is that they always ascribe the activities of the NRA and gun rights organizations to the will of the “evil gun industry.” He might be half right in that gun industry folks are shooters who want to see things get better for themselves personally, but the NRA especially is an organization made up of millions of dues paying members who vote on and agitate for issues in which they have a vested interest.

If only firearms industry members cared about the Hearing Protection Act, then why would it be the #2 most viewed bill on the congressional website?

There’s another statement in Mr. Spitzer’s article here that betrays his personal lack of knowledge about firearms. You would assume that someone writing about how a firearms law is bad would have some modicum of understanding of the industry and firearms technology but apparently that is too much to ask of the SUNY academics. He claims that this would be a move by the gun industry to sell more firearms since (according to him) most guns don’t ship with a threaded barrel and shooters would need a completely new gun for their new silencer. This is, of course, completely false. First, most models of firearm these days have a threaded barrel as an option. And second, aftermarket threaded barrels are available for every handgun and most rifles meaning that a cheap drop-in replacement is available instead of needing a whole new gun.

That right there was Spitzer’s whole argument that the “evil gun lobby” was behind this move: the opportunity to sell more guns because of the need for threaded barrels. An argument based on a complete lack of understanding of how firearms work, how the NRA works, and the firearms industry as a whole.

In addition to touting the supposed “public health” threat to gun owners’ hearing, silencer advocates also say that they reduce gun recoil, thereby increasing accuracy, and make the shooting experience “more neighborly,” according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation. The simple and obvious expedients of wearing earplugs or ear covers are alternately dubbed inadequate to protect hearing and a drag on the social experience of shooting. Concerns about criminal use are brushed aside by noting that, as the NSSF says, silencers do not “increase crime.”

Oh look, he’s actually spending a paragraph on the benefits of silencers in order to appear somewhat “fair and balanced.” Even here he takes the opportunity to ridicule gun owners and brush aside little things like facts.

Earplugs and earmuffs are, indeed, a cheap and expedient way of reducing the impact of firearms noise on the shooter. But calling that solution good enough for shooters is to treat them like hermits in an isolated bubble instead of the friendly social folk they are.

One of the biggest benefits from silencers is the ability to communicate with other people on the range, especially while giving instruction. Talking is damn near impossible on a shared firing range due to the constant gunfire drowning out every other word, and the raised tone with which instructors must speak to make their words audible through the hearing protection increases the stress on both the shooter and the instructor, making it a poor experience for both. This is especially important while hunting out in the field, as the ability to exchange information between hunting partners (or an instructor and a student) is imperative and normal hearing protection makes that process difficult if not impossible.

Famed silencer designer Kevin Brittingham taught each of his children how to shoot using suppressed firearms and recommends it for everyone else as well. In his opinion it made for a much more relaxed environment where information could be exchanged in a calm manner, lowering the stress levels and making everyone more comfortable with the situation. Out in the field both his son and at least one of his daughters have harvested deer on his local farm outside Atlanta, Georgia using suppressed weapons and according to him it allowed him to better communicate with his kids and better guide them through the process.

When I hunted with a silencer for the first time I found the same benefits. It improved communication between myself and my partner, and it also allowed me to be better in tune with what was going on around me. The last time I went hunting I actually found my buck by sound, not sight.

If Mr. Spitzer is so concerned about hunters accidentally shooting people in the woods, why not let them use silencers and take off their hearing protection so they can actually hear other people coming? Ya know, try to eliminate the problem of shooting in directions where people are walking instead of worrying about giving people warning after the rounds have already zipped through? Nah, that’s too logical.

But one might attribute silencers’ rare use in modern crime (the Violence Policy Center notes modern silencer use in a handful of serious crimes since 2011) to the success of the strict federal registration requirements governing them — a gun law that has worked, in other words.

It’s the same argument here that has been used time and again. Silencers haven’t been used in crimes, so therefore the regulation must be working. Also, dogs haven’t been seen driving many cars so therefore the driver licensing process must work.

This “blood in the streets” argument has been used to deny everything from concealed carry to large size sodas. Time and again it has been proven to be completely unfounded — concealed carry holders don’t go on shooting rampages whenever their cheeseburger doesn’t have enough bacon on it, gun ranges don’t attract hordes of gangbangers to the area, and hunting with silencers has not led to a pile of bodies across the state of Texas. But the arguments still work because gun control activists think that they have a solution that works and don’t want to take the risk of losing that control, even if it means improving the lives of millions of Americans. Let them wear earplugs, if it saves only one life it will be worth it.

Our forebears recognized the dangers of silencers almost immediately, and they weren’t limited to fears about criminal use. The silencer was invented in 1908 by Hiram Maxim, and the first state law outlawing silencers’ sale or possession came within a year — a Maine ban enacted in 1909. Pittsburgh moved against silencers that same year. As the city’s superintendent of police warned, “The risk of shooting is too great; the discharge of the weapon makes too much noise and attracts too many people. But with a silencer in use this would be different.”

From then until 1934, at least 13 states enacted silencer laws, with five of them specifically barring their use in hunting. North Carolina’s 1925 law, for example, barred “any gun” used for hunting “that does not produce when discharged the usual and ordinary report.” Ironically, Maxim ceased manufacturing silencers in 1930, according to the New York Times, “because of the popular impression that this invention was an aid to crime.” Instead, he turned his energies to automobile mufflers.

Mr. Spitzer isn’t citing fact — he’s citing speculation. Pittsburgh didn’t ban silencers because of a rash of suppressed murders, instead they were banned based on the fear that it might come to pass. There was no factual evidence to support the original ban and there remains no factual evidence to support the continuation of the ban. The only support for Mr. Spitzer’s argument is emotion and fear, not fact or evidence of any kind.

That’s not a stance that has taken root overseas in the rest of the developed world. In France, a country with the strictest gun laws in Europe, silencers are unregulated and available over the counter. In Great Britain permits for suppressors are regularly issued along with the firearms permit with no additional work. They are seen as health and safety benefits, and the ready availability has not increased the murder rate or caused the “blood in the streets” response that Mr. Spitzer has described.

In short, there’s no factual basis for any of Mr. Spitzer’s claims. Not a single one.

Absent some kind of cataclysmic hearing-loss crisis by America’s tens of millions of gun owners, this political push should be recognized for what it is: an effort to provide an extremely small benefit to gun owners that willfully ignores what can happen to others once a bullet leaves a gun barrel. The lifesaving safety benefits of gun noise should weigh far more in the silencer debate. Just ask anyone caught in the vicinity of a shooting.

It’s obvious at this point that Mr. Spitzer has never actually fired a suppressed weapon. Will a mass shooter actually use a silencer? I can’t think of any who have, even in states where they are already legal, and it doesn’t make sense from a weapon selection point of view. In fact, none of the mass shootings in France last year used a silencer despite those devices being available “over the counter” as the Hearing Protection Act wants to make it in the United States. Will a suppressed weapon reduce the “lifesaving safety benefits” of a loud gunshot? Not really, they are still loud as all heck and definitely will draw attention to the shooter.

But calling the reduction of noise at gun ranges a “small benefit” is a misleading statement. Everyone from the CDC to my kid sister knows that guns are loud and can permanently damage your hearing, and quiet guns are much better than loud guns. Making instruction easier, improving accuracy, and reducing noise pollution near gun ranges are all major benefits that come from silencer use.

There’s really no factual basis for Mr. Spitzer’s argument. He believes that gun owners should suffer and continue to harm their hearing unnecessarily so that in the astonishingly slim chance that a mass shooting takes place with a silencer equipped firearm the victims might possibly have a split second more warning. It shows once more the utter contempt with which gun control activists see the American gun owner, actively arguing that a safety device recognized for its effectiveness without any associated increase in crime around the developed world should not be more easily accessible within our borders. It’s almost like they revel in our pain, loving the fact that shooting is unpleasant and wishing us continued injury merely because we like to shoot guns.

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    • Not very solid work. I’m all for taking them off the NFA, but let’s be honest here. The reason they were put on the NFA (and the reason they were banded from hunting) was the issue of poaching. And I can guarantee that they will be used for some premeditated shootings (Why would someone not use one if concealment was not an issue). Also they can make the firearm sound about as loud as someone slamming a book closed. A “wet” suppressor on a 45 is as loud as a paintball gun. And some of the dedicated guns are scary quiet.

      I for one will be going to a 45 for my home defense gun (I have shot a 9 in a hallway and it sucks)

      Do I think that not having them will prevent crime? No, but I can guarantee that suppressors will be used in crime. Right along with knifes and baseball bats.

      As for using France and England for an example, oh please. Firearms themselves are harder to get then suppressors are here, so there really isn’t a point now is there.

      • Sorry, found Nick’s mention of the poaching issue. Missed that part. I do agree that making hunting more dangerous is B.S.
        Still fairly sure that they will be used in crimes. You know, the kinds that don’t end up with people arrested because the shooter knows what they are doing.

        • Will they be used in crimes? Probably. Pretty much everything is.
          But let’s look at “gun crime” in Chicago. Lots of people shot. LOTS. In, 2015, 470+ were killed. How many were “solved”? 123. That’s 26%. (That’s a 3% drop over 2014; IOW, they are getting worse at it.)
          Silencers aren’t used in those killings. The loud report evidently doesn’t help much to solve such crimes.
          So the idea that a few people, who are pros, and don’t often get caught at all, and probably already use silencers, will somehow skew these numbers is not a good one.

          I don’t know if you know this or not, but handguns are used in the vast majority of deadly shootings, according to the FBI. They are used, as the article says, because they are easily concealable. Add a silencer, and that advantage goes away. Add to that the fact that they don’t seem to be necessary in the first place to avoid being caught, and the need for them to the criminal is very low. Why would a gang banger (or anyone, for that matter) want to add an unnecessary, costly piece of equipment to his arsenal when the benefits just aren’t there?

        • I like what Nick wrote for the most part. But I agree about increased use in criminal acts. I think the portrayal of suppressors in film, TV and “vigigames” combined to with the novelty of their availability will lead to increased use in crime.

          I don’t think that it would lead to more criminal acts nor will it add to the success of criminal acts.

          Nick’s assessment that suppressor-equipped weapons are not the weapon of choice for terrorism has merit, but active shooters and terrorists are often deranged individuals attracted to strange ideas. If HPA passes (God willing), the 2A community should be prepared to address the fallout when it happens.

        • Imagine how much the media will overuse the phrase “with a silencer” any time a criminal uses one.

        • My understanding of the poaching thing was that it wasn’t about wild game but about livestock. The ranchers and such during the depression were losing animals (or afraid they’d lose animals) to desperate people, and that ‘lobby’ is what got silencers added to the NFA. Not the gov protecting “its” wild game, but ranchers protecting their livestock (and therefore livelihood). It was probably some combo of both of these things, of course.

          And hearing loss is a major issue. Ask an insurance agency or a police department. The Sheriff’s department here said disability payments due to gunfire-induced hearing loss is one of their largest expenses. The VA has spent many billions on hearing loss expenses. Discharge a rifle or a handgun in a confined environment like a police car, home/building, alley, etc, and you’re probably going to suffer some level of permanent hearing damage.

          There are countries in Europe where suppressor use is mandatory in certain areas and/or for certain activities (e.g. hunting). It’s noise pollution, so it’s required at various outdoor shooting ranges etc etc.

  1. So he doesn’t like them because…. Guns!

    Rational thought right there. I wonder how many babies I’ve killed with my evil silenced weapons? Oh yeah not a damn person has been hurt by my guns no matter the noise output or comfort of my ears. Is this a good time to remind the leftist “author” that the term “shall not be infringed” is shorter than his whole list of panty twisting feel-bads?

  2. A friend of mine, a big gun collector, has a day job as a game warden. His concern his poaching will skyrocket. It’s already hard enough to stop a poacher not using a suppressor. As much as I want one and would love to see the HPA pass, I don’t know if the trade off is worth it from a sporting angle. We (out west) already have issues with trophy poachers (may they all hang) and Game Wardens are already overworked and under funded as it is.

    • Given how easy a suppressor or silencer is to make (Maglite flashlight body, valve caps, drill, and a threaded cap easily found on the Internet) if poacher (who are already breaking the law) wanted to use them, what would stop them now? Same as other classes of criminals. The old Soda Bottle and duct tape suppressor actually does work for one shot.

    • Hunting is a *tiny* portion of the sporting culture out there today. Your friend is being selfish, nothing more. Ask him how often his poachers are busted with illegal cans already? Even if doing so is illegal, and reduces his workload while they are in the pen, ask him if it is reasonable they be confined for an entire decade for not hunting the right way.

    • Given the advances in electronic technology since 1934, I think it makes a great deal more sense to equip game wardens with amplified listening devices than it does to require guns to make an unsafe level of noise at the point of origin.

      Kind of like “FLIR-equipped helicopters” vs. “All right, everybody set yourselves on fire, it’ll make you easier to see. “

    • Oh the horror of peasants taking the king’s game.

      Arrows are pretty freaking quiet, anybody poaching with them? maybe we should lobby to have arrows equipped with wailing sirens?

      • Someone gets it. Crossbows are often used for poaching( and are quieter than the quietest guns). O and so are a whole host of firearms that are “naturally” “quiet”. Auditory signature is a lot like fuel efficiency w/ cars. It is often a case of doing several things right. Having a can helps. But selecting the right cartridge, firearm, and load are factors too.

    • That’s not a good reason to limit suppressor use. For one thing, if you were poaching with a cross bow then suppressors mean nothing at all. Crossbows are already super quiet. And given that homemade silencers aren’t all that hard to do without anyone even knowing about it, you’re back to “well the law didn’t really help anyways”. Don’t rely on the law to do your work for you. The job of game wardens is to enforce the law, not lean on it.

    • That’s a really good question.

      Why is a piece of wood attached to a gun regulated? I mean… does it really matter?

      Why is how you hold the gun matter?? Why does it matter if you hold the gun to your shoulder or just with your hands?

      This is what happens when morons write legislation and then vote on it.

    • Because the NFA was passed during the depression and ranchers did not want to make it easy for people to poach cattle.

      • That cost should have been financial and been born by the ranchers. They apparently had money to pay lobbyists. Instead it cost freedom from everyone else.

        Despite my love of meat, I now feel some resentment toward the people who raise it. Damn! I’m still buying meat though. 🙂

  3. How many people *really* know what a gun shot actually sounds like anyway?

    I’ve shot for a couple years and still can’t tell if I’m hearing firecrackers or gun shots during New Years

    • I used to listen to police scanners as a hobby.
      One night (I live in Phoenix) a call came in about a woman who heard *a* gunshot from a machine gun. An officer questioned how she could tell it was from a machine gun if all she heard was one shot. No more came over the air about that call.
      Uzi wishes they sold every gun described to the police as an Uzi.
      The average person is not very knowledgeable about guns.
      It’s sort of like cars; not many people know much about them, either. (Having worked as a mechanic, I can attest to this.)

  4. Regarding hoplophobic hikers concerned with getting shot by a hunter using a suppressor, let’s say they hear a shot from a ways off and are not struck by it. What do they do to keep themselves safe? Hide behind a tree or lay on the ground for 30 mins or so to ensure the hunter won’t be firing anymore? Seems silly.
    Do they yell at the hunter to cease fire? If they’re far enough away that they would be able to hear an unsuppressed shot, but too far away to hear a suppressed shot, they would also be too far away for the hunter to hear them yelling. Unless the hunter is using a .22 or subsonic pistol caliber or something.
    Also, is there any evidence in America, Europe, or anywhere else of a suppressor being responsible for the death of someone in the woods under these circumstances?

    • First, by the time you hear the gunshot it’s already too late. Sound usually travels slower than projectiles, so if you’re relying on the report of a rifle to alert you to danger then you are going to be way behind the power curve.

      In the marking pits at my range you get two definite sounds. What you hear first is the CRACK of bullet going overhead (traveling at supersonic speeds) and then the THUMP of the firing report a fraction of a second later. The further away the shooter is, the longer the delay between the CRACK and the THUMP. Hearing the THUMP allows you to estimate the direction and distance of the shooter. But it is the object inside the CRACK that does the damage.

      BTW the marking pits are 10′ deep, lined with concrete , have an overhead mantlet for about a metre, and have 20 yards of dirt covered rubble on the mantlet side. So they are very safe. The only risk is from bounce-outs from old projectiles in the stop butt when the area hasn’t been refreshed in a while.

  5. Speaking of threaded barrels, anyone have recommendations on where to get a threaded barrel for a Springfield XD 4.0″ 9mm?

  6. Great job, Nick.

    I also fall into this trap once in a while of feeling like I have to explain rights.

    Rights need no justification, they just are.

    Sadly, we do not live in a world filled with logic and reasoning, but emotion and fear. You have done a great job here attempting to assuage the fear and negative emotions of the left, but I fear their reaction will be petulantly plugging their ears and crying, “No, no, no, no, no!”

  7. Speaking of this — have all of you written your congressmen and senators and told them you want them to support the Hearing Protection Act of 2017?

    For representatives, it’s House Resolution 367.
    For senators, it’s Senate Bill 59.

    There’s something like 2.5 million unique readers of this site monthly. If we all tell our senators and congressmen to support this bill — well, it might help get it passed.

  8. I’m all for the HPA and own a couple of cans myself. I can’t let the omission of electronic hearing protection by the author go unmentioned, though. I’ve found them a perfectly acceptable method of protecting my hearing and preserving situational awareness while hunting. They are superior to a suppressor when hunting brushy areas at times as they added no length to my rifle. They fulfill the same duty on the range – allowing hearing safe shooting while allowing communication. Again, I’m all for the HPA but writing the article as if suppressors are the only viable alternative to ear plugs and old style (non electronic) muffs strikes me as a bit slanted.

    • Branden,

      I thought about electronic hearing protection as well when I read the article. Consider the following:
      (1) Shooters should have both a suppressor AND electronic hearing protection when they shoot … because neither by itself reduces gunfire to safe sound pressure levels for the shooter’s ears.
      (2) Shooters (and helpers) wearing electronic hearing protection does not help neighbors.

      About neighbors:
      I know a person who was unaware of an early hunting season and called police — fearing some sort of attack — when a neighbor discharged their hunting shotgun a relatively short distance away.

      And how about neighbors who find it next to impossible to relax in their back yard or home when their neighbor is target shooting? I was on the receiving end of one of those encounters. A friend and I had been shooting at his property a LOT over the course of a week getting our rifles ready for deer season: one of his neighbors came over and asked us to P L E A S E give it a rest. While I had absolutely no obligation to stop, I could totally understand how a week of shooting .270 Winchester, .30-06 Springfield, and .300 Win. Magnum would get extremely irritating so I graciously knocked off for the rest of the Fall.

      Needless to say, everyone “lost” because we could not (readily) use suppressors. The neighbors “lost”. And the shooters “lost”. Suppressors would have meant that the shooters could plink away to their heart’s content … since they would not be blasting away to their heart’s content. That is why we should be able to purchase suppressors over-the-counter, cash-and-carry the same day without a $200 tax and without a 10 month wait.

      • Another drawback to electronic earpro: If you’re shooting some place, say a range, with other people who are shooting unmuffled rifles or handguns you can end up turning up your earpro to hear people talk.

        The downside is this: sometimes a suppressor will drop the noise level of your rifle below the cutoff for your earpro so the sound isn’t canceled. A suppressor seems great until it doesn’t trip your earpro and the earpro amplifies the sound by 5x or more and that suppressed rifle is now, to you, really fucking loud.

    • Suppressors may not be the only hearing protection option in existence, but at zero dark thirty, when you’re in just your boxers and there’s an intruder in your house, a suppressor is the only viable option. It’s already attached to the firearm, whereas your muffs are God only knows where.

  9. Between this moron and the fag (South Park qualifier) bikers with their straight pipes one wonders why I still need a muffler on my car. After all, doesn’t the NTSB want me to be as safe as possible?

  10. I cannot tell you how angry it makes me to hear the BS these liberal fascists at the Washington Post write. Their claims are so contrary to the facts, there is no way they cannot know they are lying to their readers.

  11. A question for the author/crowd/whatever:

    I haven’t bothered to badger the ATF’s NFA branch about this and based on my experience with government bureaucracy I might never get a straight answer if I did. Based on what I’ve read there is little, if any, difference between the NFA background check and a NICS check.

    It would seem that the ATF just takes their sweet time querying their own database, some other Treasury databases, the FBI database and some other databases all of which, in my understanding, are queried by the NICS system anyway. Oh and of course they charge you $200 for the pleasure of waiting for them to do this.

    Then on top of that you fill out a 4473 and have to wait on NICS when you actually take possession of the thing too. So it would seem to me that the ATF’s 9+ month wait (I’ve never gotten one done in less than 10 months) is nothing more than a gargantuan waste of everyone’s time and ATF resources because, at best, it’s 100% redundant. If you pass the check for the host weapon you will pass the check for the can and without the host weapon what are you going to do, throw 12oz of titanium at someone?

    Am I missing something here?

    • NICS is a quickie check, they just query a few databases to see if you are listed, if not, done.
      The ATF check for the good toys is a full FBI background check. Fingerprints, photos, forms.
      You send it to ATF, but they forward it to the FBI.

      • Before the changes to the rules for trusts I never sent them fingerprints, photos or anything else like that.

        Just my Form 4, a copy of the trust + amendments and a check for $200.

        There’s also the fact that there’s an FBI check and then there’s an actual check into your background. A general FBI background check can be done in less than a day once they have your prints, name, DOB and SS#. It’s just another form of computerized query. This ain’t an actual serious background check. They don’t ask for your previous addresses, list of references etc.

        In short, it’s no SF86. That, I understand taking time (honestly they might actually spend more time on that than you spend filling it out). Contacting references, employers, schools, landlords etc is going to take time. But, let’s be real here. Fill out an SF86 for a Secret clearance and they have that shit done in 90 days, not 6-9 months or more. Hell, the ATF takes longer than it takes to get a TS clearance approved or rejected.

  12. Okay, let’s take Mr. Spitzer’s argument and run with it:

    Over the last three years, terrorists and spree killers have used cars and trucks multiple times to plow over and kill their victims. Because those cars and trucks had mufflers and were quiet, none of the victims could HEAR those cars/trucks approaching which greatly increased the death toll.

    Therefore, we must ban mufflers on cars and trucks so that the intended victims can HEAR the engine roaring and move to safety before a terrorist or spree killer gets close enough to run them over. It will definitely save lives so this is an absolute must.

    What about the masses of people who will cringe at the painfully loud sound of car and truck engines under heavy loads? Those people can wear earmuffs.

    • I don’t think you will see them used in mass shootings, you will see them used in gang assassinations.

    • I almost got run down by a Prius. Them things are just silent pedestrian runner overers. The gov should mandate a noise maker for all electric or hybrid cars. I suggest a bicycle wheel with trading cards extending into the spokes.

      There is actually serious talk of making electric and hybrid cars have a mechanism to make them audibly noticeable.

  13. You don’t get it.

    “Hearing protection” and the rest carry no weight because they don’t care about you, your health, your risk, or your ability to exercise your hobby. Indeed, because you do anything at all with guns, any harm or burden on you is a bonus.

    You’re already in the “better dead” pile; “deplorable”, even. “Expendable” for sure.

    If they could make guns randomly explode tearing off fingers of their users, they would.

    • If we want democrats to vote for it, we should call it the “Gun Owner Persecution Act” or the “Freedom is Overrated Act.”

    • You have heard of the “kaboom”, right? Usually it’s the ammunition that wants to remove your fingers.

      And to the other poster, perhaps the HPA should be called “You suck and we hate you”. Sorry, I guess H&K already has that one.

  14. I need to buy a whole new gun to go with a silencer . Do you think my wife will buy that reasoning.

    • Buy the suppressor first. Claim you thought itd be compatible with a few of your guns but found out you need a new gun. She’ll understand.

  15. In New Zealand, silencers have been legal for decades, and there has been no large-scale uptick in the murder rate. In fact, I can think of only one case in our whole history where a silencer may have been used (the John Barlow case). Gunsmiths are happy to thread your rifle barrel for you, and silencers are quite cheap. Often they are sold with the gun as a package, and you can get rifle barrels with built in silencers. They are only good news from our perspective. There is no need for legislators to even be involved in the discussion. A little common sense, please.

  16. I wish I didn’t have to chance damaging my families hearing if I have to shoot someone in my house.
    I would just submit and pay the money, but I am forced to move states every four years, and I’m not dropping 7-800 bucks on a suppressor I might not be even be allowed to possess if the new state doesn’t deem its population worthy of trust. /end pity party

  17. Nick. You missed the obvious. If criminals wanted their gun silenced, they already have easy options. E.G. The oil filter silencer. Only slightly larger than a commercial produced silencer – it is quite effective. Spitzer (ironic name I know), provides the implicit suggestion that the law is working, and that the reason criminals don’t have silencers is because of the law. That is not correct. The law doesn’t stop murder. The law can’t stop anything. If they wanted their shots silenced, they already can readily do so, with a variety of reliable methods (albeit illegal) that would suffice. That is what they can’t get, the law doesn’t prevent it, the law can’t stop it, the law only makes it illegal and provide a government provided punishment. If criminals wanted to use silencers, they would already be using them.

  18. Well researched, fact-based, well written, no hysterical adjectives, no dog-whistle call outs about “thugs”.

    I’m not sure you’re fit to write for John Boch’s TTAG, Nick.

  19. “If the person doesn’t buy the silencer from a gun store then they need the full Form 4 process to transfer it from one person to another.”
    uh… where does it say that? Is this one o them “alternative facts”?

    • The Hearing Protection Act says that a transfer performed under the existing laws would satisfy the background check and record keeping requirements, not that silencers are removed from the NFA entirely. Transfers performed between two individuals are not covered under those existing laws and therefore would not comply with the NFA background check and record keeping requirements. QED.

      • But if you remove silencers from the definition of ‘firearm’ in the NFA text, there ARE no background check and record keeping requirements for them. i.e. this ( would not apply to silencers, right?
        And then
        “A person acquiring or possessing a firearm silencer in accordance with Chapter 44 of title 18, United States Code, shall be treated as meeting any registration and licensing requirements of the National Firearms Act (as in effect on the day before the date of the enactment of this subsection) with respect to such silencer”
        Ch44 title 18 covers the transfers of non-nfa firearms, and under those rules, there are no background check or record keeping requirements for person to person sales. So as long as I meet the requirements of Ch44 and GCA ’68, (and all other gun laws…) a person who bought a silencer from an individual “shall be treated as meeting any registration and licensing requirements”.
        Am I wrong?

  20. I’m curious on your statements about them still being an nfa item? If so, does that mean we could not create our own like we can an 80% firearm lower? If so thats some serious BS that the silencer manufacturers are pulling and we should try and get that fixed before it goes through.

    • Yes, you can build your own. You have to do a Form 1 instead of a Form 4.
      Fingerprints and photos.
      If the HPA gets passed, then a suppressor will be treated like any other firearm.
      NICS check and pay your money. Except in the Communist States where they are illegal.
      Theoretically build you own without bothering the ATF, just like the 80% lowers.

  21. he was pilloried in the comments for all of the reasons mentioned above.

    and the same piece by Spitzer was republished yesterday in the Chicago Tribune.. but so far no comments. maybe tomorrow it will be in the LA Times.

  22. If the sound of a gunshot is a safety feature then let’s take the silencers off of cars. With all the deaths those cause each year we should definitely want to hear them coming.

  23. Interesting how regulations to muffle loud vehicle exhausts are virulently opposed by the “Loud pipes save lives” faction of motorcyclists, who have at most rare anecdotal instances where a collision was avoided because a motorist was alerted by the sound of blatting Harley pipes. But the same academics who extol the virtues of quiet cars and bikes revert to “Loud guns save lives” when it applies to firearms.

    Are they going to lobby to put the equivalent of deer whistles on their beloved electric cars? Can’t hear those things either, and I’d submit that an electric car presents more danger to jaywalkers than a suppressed pistol presents to nearby persons.

  24. Critics point to a February 2013 situation in which fired Los Angles police officer Christopher Dorner killed four people in a series of attacks over 10 days that targeted law enforcement officials. They argue the fatal attacks might have been stopped earlier had Dorner not been using silencers.

    “There’s no evidence of a public health issue associated with hearing loss from gunfire,” Kristin Brown, of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, told The Los Angeles Times. “There is evidence of a public health crisis from gun violence, and we think that’s where legislative efforts should be directed.”

    I might add that the Instant Background check does not prevent the original buyer from selling to anyone he wishes without a background check which will then funnel tens of thousands of silencers right into the hands of street gangs.

    Silencers will also cause many needless deaths from Morons who think they can go out in their back yards and target practice with no regards to ricochets, over penetration, stray bullets etc. It will be a public disaster. Firearms should be in many and in most cases restricted to approved ranges that are built to safety standards.

    The original silencer law has already been modified to prevent local law enforcement officers from deliberately denying a permit simply because they do not think the public should have them. That is as far as the changes should go because under current law the $200 dollar stamp (which should be in modern times be increased to $1,000) and the vetting has kept the average Jethro and the street gangs from readily acquiring one. In other words the Federal Law has worked and worked well for many decades.

    The resulting mass poaching of wild game will be another reason that many States will be forced to outlaw silencers altogether. One Poaching gang in Ohio deliberately used the .22 l.r. without silencers because of the calibers low noise level and if they had had silencers the .22 l.r. weapons would have enabled them to shoot many more animals before they eventually were caught.

    Ditto for terrorists and nut cases that could wipe out an entire crowd at a large gathering with a silenced .22 rim fire. Considering how much noise a crowd makes coupled with the entertainment activities and traffic noise it would be a mass slaughter of people before anyone even guessed what was happening. A thought too chilling to even contemplate.

    Changing the law will result in many States passing laws outlawing them altogether because of the increase in crime, sensational murders and accidental shootings and poaching that will result from such an asinine change in the original law.

    The title “hearing protection act” is an absolute insult to every American and even to many gun owners who see the title as an outright falsehood designed only for the outright greed of the silencer manufactures and it fools no one as modern hearing protection negates such an asinine statement and a change in the original vetted silencer law.

    • Fudds gotta Fudd.

      Most of your arguments here have been so thoroughly explored and hashed over that it’s not really worth taking them on yet again. In fact, Nick already handled most of them in his article – did you read it, or just react to the topic?

    • OMG, the Fudds will be out of business in no time. The poachers will kill all the game animals and then start killing the animals that aren’t game. The cattle are next.

      And the mass shootings! Rivers of blood at the mall, the airport, the local theater. The humanity! Think of the children!!

  25. The argument that since crimes involving suppressors are so low then the laws governing them must be working is a textbook example of the ‘post hoc ergo propter hoc’ (after this, therefor because of this) fallacy. A true journalist would be aware of and avoid such basic errors.

      • You should take it to the zoo and toss it in the middle of the lion’s den just to mess with them. Or maybe throw it where the food comes from.

  26. Say Nick – you state:

    “If the person doesn’t buy the silencer from a gun store then they need the full Form 4 process to transfer it from one person to another. Not only would buying a silencer still require a background check, but they would still be more tightly regulated than any non-NFA firearm in the United States.”

    I just read through the relatively short text of the act, and then followed up with the references to the USC and tax code, and I can’t find any indication that non-gunstore transfers or building your own silencer would be subject to the current NFA regulations. Could you elaborate on the reasoning for that statement?

    • I’m 100% willing to admit being wrong about this part, but I think I’ve got an okay understanding of what’s going on.

      Silencers are regulated under the National Firearms Act, which requires a $200 tax and registration for every transfer. Nothing in the Hearing Protection Act would remove them from the National Firearms Act. Instead, what it says is that a transfer under the existing laws would satisfy the record keeping requirements dictated under the NFA. If there is no record being kept (like a 4473) then there would be no satisfaction of the record keeping requirement.

      I am not a lawyer, this is not legal advice, and if I’m wrong please call the phone number listed in the right hand column and let Robert know.

      • Thats not exactly what it says. It says anyone in posession “shall be treated” as if they met the requirements. Ch44 only deals with title 1 firearms, so provided you can own a gun, you can own a can.
        And I think you are missing the part about removing ‘silencer’ from the NFA definition of ‘firearm’. The effect of which is… It really does remove silencers from any registration or reporting requirements. Only firearms in their definition are taxed and registered. I think.

  27. “And second, aftermarket threaded barrels are available for every handgun”

    not true. ive got a grand power k100 and they are NOT available.

    • still rated Nick’s statement as Mostly True. They also rated Spitzer’s article as Foolish Nonsense.

  28. There have been a whole host of past laws over turned. Prohibition was one of these flawed laws that did nothing to help the common good and decency. There have been plenty of laws past in the past due to ignorance. Gay marriage, sodomy and abortion are a few more. I can’t think of one actually valid reason for suppressors to be treated differently than long guns. Suppressor is the correct term because they don’t make anything silent. It’s not what the industry wants to use it’s the truth. Not that the truth or facts get in the way of a good liberal tale. These people want all their right, but want to take away the rights of others. That sickens me.

  29. Can you really make a claim that silencers are not Hollywood quiet (factual with some ifs and buts) and are not a danger to other people in the woods for the same reason then go and claim that they were banned to punish poachers; the the implication being the suppressed gunfire hid their presence and made them harder to catch?

    You are contradicting your own argument. I understand however this may have been done with brevity in mind

    • They are two different claims by two different groups.

      That someone else thought they could prevent poaching is not our argument. And acknowledging that someone else had that thought doesn’t in anyway lend credence to it.

      • True, and good point. I will and was willing to file the lack of distinction under brevity not contradiction; however I believe the danger of that point being made is still present.

  30. Even though silencer purchases are legal in all but eight states, advocates want to sweep aside background check and record-keeping requirements, such as photos and fingerprinting. This simply put is an outright LIE, this moronic hack seem incapable of reading or doing any research. Try reading the bill. I would require the SAME NICS check that buying a gun requires. More straight up liberal lying bullshit.

  31. IT might be a good article except for the non closable pop over for “Windows 8 drivers” by a known spyware source.

    • You need to install a pop-up blocker for your web browser. Click the “Tools” and find the “Add-ons” or “Options” menu item to find a pop-up blocker.

  32. First and foremost, virtually all firearms and silencer registration laws are based on efforts to catch the criminal AFTER he has done his deed. They do virtually nothing to PREVENT criminals from doing their crimes.

  33. Thirty some years ago, TIME magazine published an editorial on firearms, the right to keep and bear arms in which the TIME editors announced they had decided that they would no longer even try to present all sides of the issue.
    More than a decade before the Supreme Court HELLER case was issued, the TIME editors admitted that they were advocates for gun confiscation, bans, and basically that there were no proper uses for firearms. Nice of them to let us know.
    Does TIME still exist or did they all go to NBC and ABC?

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