For a number of years now, the National Rifle Association has partnered with the American Suppressor Association (ASA) to try to change laws and regulations throughout the country to make it easier for gun owners to obtain and use firearm suppressors. While the going was extremely tough initially, hard work and perseverance have paid off, and the movement has clearly picked up a head of steam. Even many policy makers generally opposed to gun rights have come to grips with the fact that, at the very base level, this issue relates to the health and safety of good citizens who choose to use firearms.
Since 2011, 16 states have legalized the use of suppressors for hunting, 13 have streamlined the process necessary for obtaining them and two have removed bans on their ownership and use. As laws stand now, suppressor ownership and use is legal in 41 states, and their use for hunting game animals is legal in 38. If someone had come to me in 2008 and told me that this kind of progress would have been made in such a relatively short period of time, I probably would have called the person crazy.
Just this past week, the Iowa state Senate voted 46-4 to legalize the civilian possession of suppressors. It really is a stunning thing, especially considering that there are at least a dozen senators on the “yes” side of this vote who love Hillary Clinton for campaigning on the promise that she will do all in her power to bankrupt the American firearms industry under an avalanche of reckless lawsuits.
Almost simultaneously, the New Hampshire state Senate voted 23-0 to legalize the use of suppressors for hunting. We seldom see unanimous votes on even the most mundane of issues these days. A combined vote of 69-4 in two states when it comes to anything related to suppressors makes me want to pinch myself to see if I’m dreaming. No matter how hard it is to believe, common sense really does seem to be prevailing in this one policy realm. In the states that prohibit suppressor ownership, firearms are the only items in existence that are required by the government to be used at the loudest, most harmful mode possible.
Assuming that things go as they should in Iowa, there will soon only be eight states left in the country that require firearms to be shot unmuffled. The only two west of the Empire State are Illinois and California. While those two are not surprises by any stretch, I feel some glimmer of hope that they too might come around and realize that their prohibitions are close to being sadistic. The use of that word might sound a little rough, but go read the definition of it.
Let’s get one thing straight: In the states that prohibit suppressor ownership, firearms are the only items in existence that are required by the government to be used at the loudest, most harmful mode possible. Cars, motorcycles, airplanes, construction equipment, air conditioning units, generators and everything else manmade is either allowed or required to be muffled.
Despite what Hollywood might try to feed us, suppressors are not used by criminals and professional assassins. The one-in-a-million incident is so shocking that it makes headlines for days and it virtually always involves an illegally possessed suppressor. So, there really isn’t an argument against suppressor legalization that can even be tortured into something that looks and sounds remotely rational or reasonable.
Policy makers who work hard to keep their constituents from being able to use suppressors to protect one of their most precious and vulnerable senses—their hearing—would be diagnosed as sadists by most objective psychiatrists. Merriam-Webster would certainly say so. They are the type who revile law-abiding gun owners so much that they hope that harm comes to them. It would put a smile on their faces. It’s unconscionable behavior.
What is heartening is that gun owners and many others have begun to recognize suppressors as common tools of today’s age. It used to be that if someone saw a suppressor on one of my guns, a long talk ensued about what it was, how it could possibly be legal and so on. Now it’s just a quick mention about how it looks cool and makes the world a better place with the mitigated noise.
Three weeks ago some friends and I were shooting AR-15s out of a Bell Jet Ranger helicopter on a big ranch in East Texas. The pilot was a classic old-time Texan who had been flying choppers for 42 years. When he saw me and my buddy climb aboard with suppressed guns, he immediately thanked us for making his life a little easier. He said his wife would thank us too because she would hear “huh?” from him a little less often. It was a brief, matter-of-fact conversation, and we were off on an adventure of a lifetime.
NRA and ASA’s work to further legalize suppressors and make them more efficient to acquire will continue in the years to come. Surprisingly, we could learn a few things from many European countries where the citizens are able to walk into hardware stores and buy them like they buy a hammer or wrench. There is no regulation. They seem to understand it over there. You should already be a proud member of the NRA, but you should also consider joining the ASA if you haven’t already.
Getting the government out of the way when it comes to acquiring suppressors will dramatically enhance efforts to protect hearing health among the significant population of Americans that call themselves shooters. It will also light a fire under an industry in a way that has rarely been seen before. Thousands of jobs would be created overnight as millions of suppressors are bought by the country’s 100 million gun owners. Thankfully, we are moving closer and closer to making this dream a reality.