With the recent introduction of the Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) Act in Congress, anti-gun politicians and media are again coming out of the woodwork to shout against deregulating firearm suppressors to protect the hearing of hunters and shooters.
The bill, H.R. 3668, addresses a number of issues important to sportsmen and women. It would, among other things, offer enhanced protections for those carrying firearms on Army Corps of Engineers land; require the facilitation of hunting, fishing and recreational shooting on public lands; rework the federal “sporting purposes test” that unnecessarily complicates the importation of shotguns and rifles; and revise the Firearm Owners' Protection Act’s interstate transportation regulations.
But the thing that has anti-gun zealots the most irate seems to be the fact that the Hearing Protection Act is also included in the bill. That measure would greatly simplify the firearm suppressor purchasing process, to the advantage of hunters, shooters and landowners alike.
For Dana Milbank, a Washington Post opinion writer, inclusion of hearing protection in the measure apparently went too far, as witnessed by his recent op-ed with the headline, “The NRA’s idea of recreation: Assault rifles, armor-piercing bullets and silencers.”
And he’s not afraid to lie about it—even though his own publication already debunked his take on suppressors months ago.Milbank pompously ranted: “The days are growing colder, and soon millions of American hunters will pursue a time-honored tradition. They will load their automatic weapons with armor-piercing bullets, strap on silencers, head off to the picnic grounds on nearby public lakes—and start shooting.”
It seems Milbank is particularly irked by the hearing protection portion of the measure. And he’s not afraid to lie about it—even though his own publication already debunked his take on suppressors months ago.
“The uninformed might suspect that silencers are used by people who want to fire weapons without being caught by cops or observed by witnesses,” he whined. “But more and more hunters are finding that conventional earplugs and muffs are not adequate for today’s weapons—for example, quail hunting with an M777 howitzer or grouse hunting with an FIM-92 Stinger missile launcher.”
It’s clear that Milbank ascribes to the theory that firearm suppressors, which he calls “silencers,” are used mainly by criminals, and make guns so quiet that “cops” and “witnesses” can’t even hear them. Milbank might have gotten that impression from his Post co-worker, Michael Rosenwald, who wrote back in January that “firearm silencers” have been strictly regulated “for as long as James Bond and big-screen gangsters have used them to discreetly shoot enemies between the eyes.”
“We can understand the irritation of gun control advocates about legislation with a benign-sounding name such as the Hearing Protection Act …,” wrote Post fact checker Glenn Kessler on March 20. “But that title does not give opponents the liberty to stretch the facts.”
Are you listening, Milbank and other Post writers?
Kessler continued: “In the meantime, although the popular name of this accessory is a silencer, foes of the law such as [Senator Kirsten] Gillibrand should not use misleading terms such as “quiet” to describe the sound made by a high-powered weapon with a suppressor attached ... There is little that’s quiet about a firearm with a silencer, unless one also thinks a jackhammer is quiet.”
On average, suppressors transmute a 165 dB sound into a 135 dB sound. Or, put another way, they change the volume from one that is akin to a jet engine into one that is akin to a jackhammer.Since Milbank won’t listen to his own fact checker, here are a few facts he might want to consider before further addressing the issue of firearm suppressors:
On average, suppressors transmute a 165 dB sound into a 135 dB sound. Or, put another way, they change the volume from one that is akin to a jet engine into one that is akin to a jackhammer.
Only 44 out of the 1.3 million suppressors in circulation in America are used annually in the commission of a crime (that’s 0.003 percent). If this rate provides sufficient warrant for an intrusive federal law, we probably need to start taxing and regulating knives, baseball bats and hammers.
The HPA represents little more than a modest and benign update to what is an outdated and irrational law. Currently, Americans who want to add a suppressor to their gun must pay a $200 tax to the treasury and submit to a six- to eight-month background check process. If the HPA passes, those requirements will be repealed, and the federal government will cease to intrude in the 42 states in which suppressors are available without delay.
A physicians group, Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership, has even stated that the legislation would be quite beneficial to hunters and other sport shooters. “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,” the group stated in a research paper. “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.”
Long story short, the HPA would repeal a law that does no good whatsoever, but does harm those law-abiding citizens who wish to exercise their constitutional rights.
Why can’t Milbank and other anti-gunners in the media understand that?
Mark Chesnut has been the editor of America’s 1st Freedom magazine for 17 years and is an avid hunter, shooter and political observer.