The proposal to stop treating inert metal tubes with baffles in them as machineguns, and start treating them as typical rifles (which is still pretty ridiculous) has ruffled more than a few feathers on the statist-left.
The Los Angeles Times, for example, has recently published a piece by Michael Hiltzik that he condescendingly titled, “A new absurdity from the gun lobby: The ‘Hearing Protection Act’ (it’s actually about deregulating silencers.)” Unfortunately, none of his editors seemed to notice the inaccuracies, insinuations, and outright lies contained in the newest absurdity from the L.A. Times (it’s actually about gun control.)
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.
The opening sentence speaks to a broader philosophical gulf between Americans and their would-be overlords in the media and government. In the eyes of the gun advocate, violence is moral or immoral based on why the violence is being committed. The statist (who views guns as a threat to his monopoly of force) perceives violence as moral or immoral based on the method used and where the perpetrator falls on the left’s Hierarchy of Victimhood. To even use the phrase “gun violence” is to insinuate that it is, in fact, more morally repugnant than other forms of violence. To such a man, the idea of an elderly victim being bludgeoned to death by a stronger assailant is morally preferable to the would-be victim killing his assailant with a gun.
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.”
You mean the USA PATRIOT Act whose core provisions were written in the 1990s by Joe Biden for the purposes of spying on or incarcerating veterans and conservative groups that were insufficiently loyal to the Clinton regime? That 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.
Actually, it’s pretty obvious to anyone who even glances at the bill’s summary that it’s talking about deregulating the sale of gun silencers. Even without a summary, however, Hiltzik’s premise is a false one. The official title of House Resolution 367 is not “The Hearing Protection Act of 2017,” as it is commonly known, but “To provide that silencers be treated the same as long guns.” That is literally the bill’s official title. Michael Hiltzik is a liar and a fraud whose inability or unwillingness to perform even the most basic and cursory of research in the process of writing a story is painfully apparent.
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.)
Since when were hand grenades and mortars “instruments of mobster violence?” Silencers were most likely added to the National Firearms Act out of fear that they could aid poachers. There is certainly no historical evidence that they saw widespread use as the tools of gangsters. Even Michael Rosenwald’s idiotic tantrum got that part mostly right, though Hiltzik’s call-out to Rosenwald reveals how collusive and incestuous this kind of scare-reporting is.
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. The silencer industry also has a new high-profile celebrity endorser: Donald Trump Jr., an avid hunter who can be seen in a promotional video for Utah-based SilencerCo.
Advocates of the measure say silencers, or “suppressors,” to use the preferred industry term, have been given a bad rap by Hollywood and pulp fiction. They says silencers don’t normally reduce the noise of a gunshot to the quiet “thump,” like a fist hitting a pillow, that one hears in James Bond movies, but only enough to stave off hearing loss and allow hunters to hear each other in the wild.
“They say” that, probably because it is true- as literally anyone who has ever fired a suppressed firearm could probably tell you.
A video featured on the website Bearing Arms (whose editor, Bob Owens, contributed a pro-silencer op-ed to the Los Angeles Times last year) tries to make the case that even with silencers, gunshots fired inside a home remain “distinct and unmistakable.” Actually, the sound of at least the lower-powered silenced weapons in the clip might be difficult to identify as gunshots; you be the judge.
Hiltzik is probably right: a suppressed gunshot might be difficult to identify as such, when recorded with a subpar microphone and then played over the tinny speakers in his Macbook. But in the real world, suppressed gunshots aren’t coming from computer or cell phone speakers whose maximum volume level could not even approach the sound of a gunshot, even if the microphone being used to record the gunshot had the range to accurately portray it. To suggest that a YouTube video recorded with a handheld camera could give an accurate representation of the pressure and volume associated with firing a handgun indoors is a level of asinine akin to suggesting that jet engines aren’t all that loud and using YouTube to prove it.
“Suppressors do not make guns silent or dangerous,” Rep. Carter said in introducing the bill. “They are simply a form of hearing protection, both for the shooter and their hunting dogs.”
Actually, this is a pretty good point. The next time someone tells you they oppose the Hearing Protection Act, ask them why they hate dogs so much.
Public misunderstanding about silencers has made them harder to buy than guns themselves. Under the 1934 National Firearms Act, buyers must specifically register, undergo a federal screening that can take nine months and pay a $200 tax. (The tax hasn’t been raised since the 1930s, when it was deemed high enough to discourage virtually any sales.) Those are the same restrictions governing hand grenades and land mines, though of course there isn’t an industry push to expand sales of those devices. In eight states, including California, New York and Massachusetts, civilian ownership of silencers is banned outright.
But that’s the point, isn’t it? It is ridiculous that a sound muffling device is treated with the same scorn, stigma, and legal obstacles to ownership that hand grenades and land mines currently do. A $200 tax in 1934 was the equivalent of roughly $3,500 in 2017 dollars. The entire point of the law was to deny average Americans the ability to purchase them.
Manufacturers say it’s illogical to raise a higher bars to silencer purchases than gun purchases, but this is a double-edged sword. They may be right, but that’s an argument for making guns as hard to buy as silencers, rather than the other way around.
The solution to the disparity between laws governing firearms and laws governing silencers is not to make firearms as difficult to acquire as silencers. Suggesting otherwise is not an “argument” for anything, but merely the unenlightened opinion of a petty tyrant.
Gun control advocates don’t buy these pro-silencer arguments and neither should you.
These pro-silencer “arguments” aren’t even arguments so much as they are statements of fact based in observable reality. Numerous scientific tests reveal that suppressors only reduce the sound of a gunshot by approximately 30 decibels, from the “permanent hearing loss” range to the “relatively safe” range. Of course gun control advocates don’t buy these arguments. Gun control advocates don’t deal in arguments, they deal in irrational fear and emotion. Their “arguments” against the liberalization of silencer laws are nearly identical to their arguments against guns, and is something akin to “F*** you and your ears. The idea of silencers scares me, so you shouldn’t be allowed to have them.”
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.
Arguably the deregulation of silencers would benefit the people who manufacture silencers, but just saying that they increase unspecified dangers of “firearm violence” (which again is somehow worse than other forms of violence) is not an argument.
“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.
Except for all of the evidence of a public health issue associated with hearing loss from gunfire.
“There is evidence of a public health crisis from gun violence, and we think that’s where legislative efforts should be directed.”
Actually, no. That’s not true. The news fakers at the Washington Post don’t even think that’s true.
Others point to indications that silencers can reduce public awareness of developing firearm attacks and interfere with law enforcement.
Again, a suppressed gunshot is still in the realm of 130 dB. That is equivalent to a jackhammer or a jet engine on takeoff. And again, this line of reasoning plays into the ignorant myth that suppressors literally “silence” guns. A staccato of gunshots will be identifiable as a staccato of gunshots whether at 130 dB or 160 dB. The difference is that one won’t give everyone in the vicinity permanent hearing loss.
That appeared to happen in the 2013 Southern California murder rampage of former Los Angeles police Officer Christopher Dorner. As The Times reported, Dorner’s early morning killing of a couple in a parked car in Irvine initially went undetected, even though he loosed 14 gunshots — apparently with a silenced weapon.
You mean when one of LA’s finest decided to go postal? Can these people point to any major city where 14 gunshots in the “early morning” don’t go unnoticed? Unsupressed gunshots are so often unreported that cities are spending millions of dollars on systems to identify their origins. These systems are based on military designs to address the similar problem of locating unsuppressed sniper fire in urban areas. The argument being made here is essentially that suppressors should be banned because they make an already impossible task impossible.
Later in the rampage, when Dorner was cornered in the San Bernardino National Forest, his use of a silenced sniper rifle made it difficult for sheriff’s deputies under fire to pinpoint his position.
As anyone who has ever been in a forest knows, identifying the origin of a gunshot in the unique acoustics of a wooded area is an extremely difficult proposition, irrelevant of suppression. And Remington hunting rifles are “sniper rifles” now?
Silencer makers themselves boast that the equipment makes rifles “more accurate” and allows more “rapid follow-up shots” by “reducing recoil and muzzle flip,” in the words of a promotional brochure from Advanced Armament Corp. That raises the prospect of even more carnage from determined mass shooters.
“Carnage” seems to be a favorite word of hysterical gun control advocates. A sane person would recognize that very little can be done to reduce the “carnage” from a person determined to kill. It is true that suppressors can reduce recoil and allow for faster follow-up shots, as these are desired traits in any semi-automatic firearm. Those who wish to reduce the regulatory burden on prospective silencer owners are pointing to a very real, measurable, and verifiable problem, while the statist-left here is dealing only in projection and imagined hypotheticals. The “logic” here is quite telling. They believe that millions of people should be deprived of a right because of what someone, somewhere, might do with it.
Chris Dorner wasn’t even an example of a “mass shooter” in the traditional sense. He was a cop who already had easy access to weapons and silencers, and whose killing spree was specifically targeted. Smoke grenades and teargas aren’t readily available to the general public either, but Dorner still managed to acquire them.
Gun violence activists see the push for silencer deregulation as largely a marketing ploy by the manufacturing industry. “The industry is focused on producing and selling military-style firearms,” observes Kristen Rand, legislative director of the Violence Policy Center. “Silencers are part of the appeal of the militarized firearm. The industry sells them as an add-on.”
Except, as previously pointed out, tens of thousands of current and former servicemen suffer from permanent hearing loss precisely because the military doesn’t use silencers in any appreciable capacity. To suggest that military use is driving suppressor sales is a blatant lie. One need only too look at the promotional material produced by the silencer industry to see that military equivocation is essentially nonexistent.
That may explain Donald Trump Jr.’s real role as an advocate. His endorsement is highly unlikely to expand acceptance of a gun deregulation among those who already favor stricter controls; but it may help to sell silencers to gun buyers already aligned with his father’s politics.
This is at best borderline tautological. People who support gun rights are more likely to support gun rights if someone they voted for because he supports gun rights tells them that he supports gun rights, or because the son of said gun rights supporter supports gun rights?
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?”
And as the official title of HR 367 (To provide that silencers be treated the same as long guns) makes abundantly clear, the only one engaging in a transparent effort to deceive seems to be Michael Hiltzik and the editorial staff at the Los Angeles Times.