The noise about gun "silencers"

  • 10 January 2017
  • NormanL
The noise about gun "silencers"

The possibility that suppressors might -- possibly -- become more readily available to gun owners has the anti-gun crowd in a tizzy. This tool will make criminals more dangerous, threaten the lives of countless people, and, very likely, cause apples to stop growing on trees.

The problem with this nonsense it that it is devoid of fact, something this piece tries to restore to the debate:

Gun controllers want you to believe a suppressor can take a garden-variety criminal and turn him into James Bond. They want you to believe suppressors make criminals more lethal. Nothing could be further from the truth. Suppressors are nothing more than sound-reducing mufflers for guns. And their regulation compared to that of actual firearms makes absolutely no sense. I can go into any gun store in my state right now and walk out with any high-powered rifle I want within minutes. The federal gun dealer will run a background check on me, see that my record is clear, and then sell me the gun, which I could then use to shoot people or things.

Compare that to the legal process for getting a suppressor, a hollow metal can which cannot fire bullets and has the approximate lethality of a roll of paper towels. To legally possess a suppressor, I must receive special permission from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (BATFE). I am required to pay a special $200 tax to receive that permission. I am required to fill out extensive paperwork (far longer and more intrusive than what is required to purchase an actual firearm) and provide BATFE with a photograph and two sets of fingerprints.

I am required to inform my chief local law enforcement officer that I am in possession of a National Firearms Act (NFA) item. I am required to keep all of my paperwork with the NFA item wherever it goes. And I must get permission from BATFE to cross state lines with that NFA item. Right now, that approval process takes upward of a year. So if I were to walk into a federal gun dealer who is licensed to sell NFA items today, I’d be lucky if I could take possession of a simple suppressor before 2018. On what planet does that make any sense?

The simple fact of the matter is that it makes zero sense. Suppressors allow legal gun owners to protect their hearing and that of their loved ones. They enable legal gun owners to more effectively protect their homes and their families. That’s it. They don’t make it easier for crooks to commit crimes any more than car mufflers make it easier for alcoholics to drive drunk. In fact, suppressed weapons are less attractive to criminals because they’re expensive and make weapons extremely difficult to conceal.

These are facts, not opinions. And they’re facts based on an understanding of basic ballistics and gun mechanics. Gun suppressors take a sound that will instantly cause permanent hearing damage and reduce it to the whisper-quiet level of a jackhammer or a jet taking off from an aircraft carrier. Regulating mufflers for a gun the same way we regulate machine guns makes no sense. Imagine a legal regime that allowed you to instantly buy a car today but forced you to wait over a year before you could legally install a muffler on it.

Let's not give them any ideas.