The gun lobby certainly is adept at promoting counterintuitive (and probably counterproductive) policy positions, such as that the answer to gun violence in America is more guns. Politicians certainly are adept at giving their bills titles that conceal their purpose, like calling a bill that narrows privacy rights and constrains civil liberties the “Patriot Act.”
Put these proclivities together, and you get the “Hearing Protection Act,” introduced Monday by Reps. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) and John Carter (R-Texas). From the title alone, you’d have no idea that it’s about deregulating the sale of gun silencers.
Stiff federal regulations on silencers date back to 1934, when they were enacted as part of a crackdown on machine guns and other instruments of mobster violence. (Thanks to the Washington Post’s Michael Rosenwald for some of this history.) In recent years, they’ve stuck in the gun lobby’s craw, as do most restrictions on the sale of firearms and related equipment.
But treating the use of silencers as a public health issue is a relatively new twist. It was first tried in connection with a precursor bill to the Duncan-Carter measure that was introduced in 2015 and died in committee.
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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.
“There’s no evidence of a public health issue associated with hearing loss from gunfire,” says Kristin Brown of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. “There is evidence of a public health crisis from gun violence, and we think that’s where legislative efforts should be directed.”
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The real flaw in the silencer lobby’s efforts, however, may be the patent obviousness of their fakery. Calling the Duncan-Carter bill the “Hearing Protection Act” is so absurdly transparent an effort to deceive that voters may be prompted to ask an obvious question: “What are they hiding?”
Okay. Your insightful analysis has got me. I have to admit it. I have to confess, and I expect it will be good for the soul.
No, I don’t want to be a mobster. I’m just fed up as hell with having to take off my ear muffs when I need to communicate something to a fellow shooter, only to have to sustain damage to my hearing if I don’t move back while I’m at a range. I’m just fed up as hell with having ear muffs interfere with my cheek weld when I’m shooting a rifle.
As for the notion that you won’t be able to hear gunfire if people actually purchase suppressors, I wouldn’t worry about that too much. I think you’ll still have time to “run, hide and fight” in the case of an attacker. I don’t really take you for the kind of guy who would run to the sound of gunfire to assist others anyway. And I’m sure you wouldn’t have the means to stop a shooter if you did do so.
You can just wait that precious 12 -15 minutes for the LEOs to get there and another 30 for them to assess the situation and send in a SWAT team. Whether you or your loved ones perish will be a function of a number of things, but hey, take heart! California has that awesome law that limits the number of folks he can kill to ten at a time until he slaps the next magazine in (about a second or so). I’m sure a criminal won’t have access to those terrible 30 round mags.