A veteran United States Senator from Idaho, and a pair of congressmen from Texas and South Carolina have introduced federal legislation aimed at removing firearms suppressors from regulation under the 1934 National Firearms Act, and it took no time at all for anti-gunners to object.
Sen. Mike Crapo, an Idaho Republican, introduced the Hearing Protection Act, S. 59, on Wednesday. The Washington Post noted that a companion measure (H.R. 367) has been introduced in the House by Reps. Jeff Duncan (R-SC) and John Carter (R-TX). The legislation gets the nod from the National Rifle Association, and is exactly what Alan Gottlieb with the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms asked for in December.
“The Hearing Protection Act would update existing firearm accessory statutes by removing sound suppressors from regulation under the National Firearms Act (NFA),” Crapo said in a statement. “The outdated regulation of suppressors under the NFA makes it costly and often procedurally impossible for law-abiding citizens to buy and possess these important safety devices. For years sportsmen and women have used suppressors to increase the safety of the shooting environment by protecting operators’ hearing and allowing for increased communication among participants.”
Writers at the Washington Post and Los Angeles Times do not appear keen on the idea.
Writing in the Washington Post, reporter Michael S. Rosenwald noted, “Violence prevention advocates are outraged that the industry is trying to ease silencer restrictions by linking the issue to the eardrums of gun owners. They argue the legislation will make it easier for criminals and potential mass shooters to obtain devices to conceal attacks.”
Meanwhile, Los Angeles Times columnist Michael Hiltzik wrote, “Gun control advocates don’t buy these pro-silencer arguments and neither should you. The argument that silencer sales promote public health by protecting hearing is a smokescreen, they say, for a deregulatory initiative that would largely benefit the firearms industry while increasing the dangers of firearm violence.”
The Washington Post quoted Kristen Rand, legislative director of the anti-gun rights Violence Policy Center, who asserted, “They want the general public to think it’s about hearing aids or something. It’s both a silly and smart way to do it, I guess. But when the general public finds out what’s really happening, there will be outrage.”
Suppressor advocates call that nonsense, and argue that much of the public misunderstanding about suppressors is due to Hollywood. Spy movies and gangster dramas have repeatedly given the devices more credit than they may deserve, although they do noticeably reduce the muzzle blast on a semi-auto rifle or pistol.
In an Op-Ed piece published in December, CCRKBA Chairman Alan Gottlieb wrote, “Sound suppressors/silencers are designed to protect hearing. Congress should remove the red tape, and make them easy to own. It would benefit shooters at indoor ranges, and those whose outdoor ranges have seen encroachment of nearby development. They can also be used for hunting to reduce noise conflicts.”