Should We Deregulate Silencers?

May 2, 2017

What is “The Hearing Protection Act of 2017”?

Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC), Rep. John Carter (R-TX), and Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID) recently introduced a bill (HR367/S59) that would remove silencers from a list of extremely dangerous firearms (like machine guns) that have more regulations than the average gun. Perhaps just as dangerous, the bill includes a clause that would overrule attempts by State legislatures to regulate silencers, stating that any state’s “registration requirement with respect to the firearm silencer, shall have no force or effect.”

The bill’s sponsors are calling it “The Hearing Protection Act of 2017”. The title is an obvious smoke screen to cover up the bills deregulation of dangerous weapons. As you have already discovered, this bill has nothing to do with protecting hearing. As others have pointed out, if silencers really did protect the hearing of gun owners, why hasn’t Congress unanimously decided that all law enforcement officers and soldiers should be given silencers?

Click here to send a message to your member of Congress, tell them to oppose this dangerous bill!

Does the current law on silencers work?

Silencers are currently regulated under the National Firearms Act (NFA), which, according to the ATF’s official website, was designed to tax and regulate silencers, machine guns, and other dangerous weapons so strictly that it would drastically reduce sales and ownership. Why?

“Congress found these firearms to pose a significant crime problem because of their frequent use in crime.” – The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives

After some amendments to the law—including an expansion of the definition of silencers that are covered by the regulations in 1986—the NFA still requires anyone who purchases a silencer to undergo a comprehensive background check and register it with the federal government. Thanks to these heightened regulations, silencers are no longer frequently used in crime.

So the law is doing what it intended: preventing silencers from being used in crime. Why would anyone want to repeal it? The Los Angeles Times has a theory: gun industry profits.

Why are silencers so dangerous?

When silencers are used in crime, it puts law enforcement and first responders at risk. The sound of gunfire is usually how shooters are located. When they can’t be easily located, active shooters can evade detection and target more victims. This was the case with Christopher Dorner’s 2013 rampage, when the killer was able to fire 14 shots in front of a high-rise apartment complex without being heard or reported to police.

Nearly 100 cities utilize futuristic SpotShotter technology, which relies on the sound of gunfire to notify law enforcement about incidents in which guns are discharged, even without receiving a call reporting it. Silencers would disrupt these systems, moving many cities backwards in their attempts to keep people safe.

What can I do?

While we are optimistic that we can stop this bill, WE NEED YOUR HELP. The gun lobby is great about calling their members of Congress, and we need to do the same in order to outnumber them. The phone numbers of the Massachusetts delegation in Congress can be found below, and if you don’t know who your Representative is, you can find out here. You can also click here to send a message to your member of Congress, telling them that you oppose this bill.

Rep. Joe Kennedy, III: 202-225-5931
Rep. Seth Moulton: 202-225-8020
Rep. Katherine Clark: 202-225-2836
Rep. Niki Tsongas: 202-225-3411
Rep. Stephen Lynch: 202-225-8273
Rep. Mike Capuano: 202-225-5111
Rep. Jim McGovern: 202-225-6101
Rep. Bill Keating: 202-225-3111
Rep. Richard Neal: 202-225-5601
Sen. Edward Markey 202-224-2742
Sen. Elizabeth Warren 202-224-4543


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