Tags: Donald Trump | Gun Control | Gun Rights | silencer | Hearing Protection Act | crime | safety

Silencer Law Brings Freedom, Safety – or Increases Crime?

Image: Silencer Law Brings Freedom, Safety – or Increases Crime?
Knox Williams, president and executive director of the Georgia-based American Suppressor Association, attaches a silencer to a gun. (AP Photo/Lisa Marie Pane)

Monday, 13 Mar 2017 10:45 PM

Proponents and critics of a proposed law to allow Americans to buy gun silencers with fewer restrictions are at odds over whether the move would bring more freedom and safety to law-abiding gun users — or increase the crime rate.

The Huffington Post talked to people on both sides of the debate, with supporters saying silencers, also known as suppressors, reduce sound without forcing shooters to wear ear protection. That would allow hunters to more easily hear the animals they are hunting and would allow for better conversation with fellow hunters. It also would cut down on the dangers of not being able to hear at firing ranges.

But that same advantage can give criminals an edge in being able to fire a weapon without being heard or having it detected by sensors, detractors argue.

"This legislation is about safety ― plain and simple," Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-S.C., said of The Hearing Protection Act, as the bill is called. "I'm very active in sport shooting and hunting, and I can't tell you how better off the shooting sports enthusiasts would be if we had easier access to suppressors to help protect our hearing."

Donald Trump Jr. is another prominent backer of the law, saying "It's just another rule government wants to put in place for no reason. If Europe can do it, American better well be able to do it. It doesn't make any sense to me."

In addition to making guns quieter, suppressors also reduce recoil and increase accuracy, allowing for the shooter to hit a target while firing rapidly, according to the American Suppressor Association. They also hide muzzle flash in low light.

But opponents argue those advantages also would be an aid to criminals — not just hunters.

"There could be some instance where somebody uses it for nefarious purposes," Jack Rinchich, president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police, told The Huffington Post. "They don't want a loud report or a muzzle flash or a blast ― say a sniper or someone trying to shoot at police officers or other people from a distance ― and they want to suppress that noise."

The association has taken no official stand on the making silencers more widely available.

Suppressors were first developed in the early 20th century, but came under restriction in the 1930s over fears they would be used by criminals and concerns people would use them to illegally hunt animals for food during the Great Depression.

They are available in most states to anyone who passes a background check and pays a $200 fee. They have never been used in crimes to a significant degree, partly because of expense and partly because they actually make weapons less easy to conceal and move around quickly.

"People don't buy a thousand-dollar thing to add to another thousand-dollar thing so they have a really nice gun-and-silencer combination to commit crime," said Jason Schauble of Utah-based SilencerCo.

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Proponents and critics of a proposed law to allow Americans to buy gun silencers with fewer restrictions are at odds over whether the move would bring more freedom and safety to law-abiding gun users – or increase the crime rate.
silencer, Hearing Protection Act, crime, safety
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2017-45-13
Monday, 13 Mar 2017 10:45 PM
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