On Jan. 9, Congressmen Jeff Duncan, R-S.C., and John Carter, R-Texas, introduced the Hearing Protection Act, a measure aimed at removing firearm suppressors from the auspices of the National Firearms Act so law-abiding Americans can more easily acquire them for their sound dampening qualities.
Duncan, Carter, various medical doctors, the NRA and other pro-Second Amendment groups have touted the hearing protection benefits Americans derive from using suppressors, while media outlets like CNN and gun controllers like Americans for Responsible Solutions (ARS) have dissed claims that suppressor deregulation would be beneficial.
A little background: In a Sept. 26, 2016, interview with SilencerCo, Donald Trump Jr. pointed out that Europeans have long understood the benefits of suppressors and actually led America in understanding the “safety” derived from using the devices.
I’ve had the privilege of being able to hunt in Europe, where some of the strictest gun laws in the world exist. And guess what, virtually every hunting gun there is suppressed. It’s about safety. If you have that kind of noise levels in any of industry, like you do shooting sports, OSHA would be going crazy. It’s about safety.
When Trump Jr. said these things, the election was still six weeks away and no one was sure if we were going to get a president who wanted to abolish the Second Amendment (i.e., Hillary Clinton) or a president who would be a staunch supporter of gun rights (i.e., Donald Trump). Because of this, Trump Jr.’s interview did not cause the stir it would have caused if given after the election.“If you have that kind of noise levels in any of industry, like you do shooting sports, OSHA would be going crazy. It’s about safety.” — Donald Trump Jr.
But once Trump won the election, gun control activists came out in full force against the possibility of suppressor deregulation.
Michael Bloomberg-funded Moms Demand Action begin speaking out about the danger of “silencers,” and on Jan. 14, CNN echoed the claim that suppressors are actually gun “silencers.” They also suggested the Hearing Protection Act is an attempt to remove a “$200,000 tax” from firearm suppressors. (In reality, the Act seeks to remove the $200 federal tax on suppressors.)
On March 13, Americans for Responsible Solutions took the rhetoric to another level by claiming “ear plugs” offer better protection than suppressors, and that the Hearing Protection Act “does nothing to protect hearing.” At the same time, the group contradicted itself by reiterating the other gun control claim that suppressors benefited criminals by making guns too quiet.
Enter Dr. Neil Bhattacharyya, who is with the Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. He indirectly made the case for suppressors by highlighting the hearing loss sport shooters face “from the repeated gunfire.”
According to Reuters Health, Bhattacharyya warned of the “extremely loud single burst of sound” that comes from a rifle. And he warned of “damaging” effects for those who “are firing hundreds of rounds.”
The solution to this problem can be clearly understood by reading the scholarly work produced by Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership (DRGO)—a group of doctors researching the hearing benefits of firearm suppressors. “Modern muzzle-level suppression is vastly superior to ear-level protection and the only available form of suppression capable of making certain sporting arms safe for hearing.” — Dr. Matthew Branch
Breitbart News reported that the doctors first explained the insufficiency of “ear plugs,” then quoted from Dr. Matthew Branch to posit the benefits of suppressors. They wrote:
Hearing protection in the form of ear plugs or ear muffs, alone or in combination, can only reduce noise exposure by approximately 20-30 decibels. This limitation in noise reduction may still expose a firearms user to damaging levels of noise; 120 decibels is still louder than a car horn from three feet away. Thus, inside the canal and over the ear devices (i.e., ear plugs and ear muffs)—the only current generally available protection—are inadequate for impulse noise protection, and when used together they deafen the wearer to all external sound.
They quoted Dr. Branch:
All suppressors offered significantly greater noise reduction than ear-level protection, usually greater than 50 percent better. Noise reduction of all ear-level protectors is unable to reduce the impulse pressure below 140 dB for certain common firearms, an international standard for prevention of sensorineural hearing loss … Modern muzzle-level suppression is vastly superior to ear-level protection and the only available form of suppression capable of making certain sporting arms safe for hearing.
Who are you going to believe when it comes to the hearing benefits of suppressors—a gun control group that claims “ear plugs” offer more protection than suppressors, or doctors who warn of damage done by the sound of gunfire and warn, too, of the insufficiency of “ear plugs”?
Trump Jr. is right: The Europeans are on to something. And on this issue, they are showing us the way we should go.
AWR Hawkins is the Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and host of Bullets with AWR Hawkins, a Breitbart News podcast. He is also the political analyst for Armed American Radio. Follow him on Twitter @AWRHawkins, or reach him directly at [email protected].