Misinformation on firearms spread by politicians and media is nothing new, but reporting on firearm silencers has recently set a new low for accuracy and attention to detail. These devices, commonly (and perhaps more accurately) referred to as suppressors, have been used for over a century by target shooters and hunters to reduce the loud “crack” associated with gunfire. To get one—if you live in one of the 42 states where possession of a suppressor is legal—requires a background check, filing additional paperwork with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), paying a $200 “tax” and a lot of patience (it often takes ATF over nine months to approve an application).
“Witnesses might not hear. Police will be less likely to track down the shooter,” said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) in a Tweet in 2017. (The Washington Post“Fact Checker” actually gave this Tweet from Gillibrand three Pinocchios, as it is very provably untrue.)
The Tweet recently came up again when Gillibrand called for a ban on these popular gun accessories—products that are simply designed to prevent hearing loss. Hunters in countries from Scotland to Finland (and yes, now in many areas of the United States) and many other gun owners use suppressors because they, like mufflers on cars, are easier on hearing and more polite to others.
The type of fear-mongering Gillibrand is pushing is a way of preying on peoples’ ignorance of this popular product. This works with some because the only place many Americans have seen suppressors are in movies when an assassin screws one on a gun.
As they do with many things related to guns, Hollywood has misinformed the public. Suppressed firearms don’t just make that little whisper of a sound we so often hear in movies. A suppressed firearm still makes a lot of noise, just maybe (depending on the gun, load and suppressor) not enough to instantly give someone hearing loss; though they likely still do that over time if someone using a suppressed firearm isn’t also wearing hearing protection.
After it was reported that the Virginia Beach killer used a suppressor on one of his guns, Virginia’s Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam announced he wanted a special legislative session that would, if he gets his way, among other things pass a ban on these devices.
The .45-caliber handgun the Virginia Beach killer reportedly used produces over 160 decibels when shot. Manufacturers of suppressors say that, generally, suppressors reduce the sound of a gun shot by about 30 decibels. Meaning that most suppressed .45-caliber handguns produce between 130-135 decibels, which is still more than the sound of a chainsaw (121 dB), riveting machine (110 dB) or a jackhammer (100+ dB).
When contacted as part of the above-mentioned Washington Postfact check, even Ralph Clark, the chief executive of ShotSpotter, a company that sells devices designed to detect and attempt to locate gun shots in cities in real time, said, “We have successfully if not inadvertently detected confirmed suppressed gunfire within our existing deployments. Although we have not formally tested the theoretical impact to our system, we intend to do some targeted testing in the near future. We believe we will have various options ranging from increasing our sensor array density to developing software/firmware to address the detection of suppressed gunfire if it were to become a widespread issue.”
So again, Gillibrand is pushing misinformation. Suppressed guns are not Hollywood silent. They can be heard and detected.
Nevertheless, those who are opposed to Second Amendment freedoms want them banned. Robyn Thomas, executive director of the Giffords Center to Prevent Gun Violence, even claimed: “Silencers do not protect your hearing.”
Suppressors are actually a good tool to help prevent hearing loss. Even the United States Centers for Disease Control thinks so. In a CDC report published on the health hazards of outdoor shooting ranges, the authors noted that “The only potentially effective noise control method to reduce students’ or instructors’ noise exposure from gunfire is through the use of noise suppressors that can be attached to the end of the gun barrel.”
Hopefully, at some point, Congress will loosen the costly and burdensome restrictions on these helpful and very popular products.
Most-Revealing Anti-Freedom Quote of the Week
“Responsible actors in the gun industry don’t need this limitation on liability. And the irresponsible ones don’t deserve it.”—Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said this as he introduced “The Equal Access to Justice for Victims of Gun Violence Act” in Congress. Schiff’s bill is built on the lie that the 2005 Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) prevents legitimate lawsuits. All the PLCAA stops are frivolous lawsuits designed to make gun companies and dealers pay for the actions of criminals.
Pro-Freedom Quote of the Week
“[W]e see the gun-controllers, in whose ranks Mr. Northam now marches, fall back on perennials no longer hardy but rather the consistency and durability of moldy chestnuts. Universal background checks, for example. We’ve heard ad nauseam that this remedy will prevent the sort of mayhem that transpired at Virginia Beach. But the guilty party purchased the two guns he used three years and one year ago, respectively—and legally.”—An editorial by The Winchester Starcalling out Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) for politically using the actions of a murderer to attempt to pass more gun-control laws.
(Frank Miniter is the author of Spies in Congress—Inside the Democrats’ Covered-Up Cyber Scandal. His latest book, The Ultimate Man’s Survival Guide to the Workplace, will be out this summer.)