(Editor’s note: This article first appeared on DelawareOnline.com, which is part of the USA Today network. It’s being syndicated here with the permission of the author, our friend and a GunsAmerica contributor, Justin Opinion).
The loud bang of a gunshot is a product of physics.
In part, you have a small explosion of a gunpowder-charged cartridge that sends a bullet forward, and also you have the bullet itself breaking the sound barrier and creating a small sonic boom. That small sonic boom is actually the loudest part of the report of a gun, and that is one of the reasons why smaller-caliber firearms make less noise than larger-caliber firearms. This function of physics is no more a safety device for firearms than the sound of a large splash is for swimming pools.
Those who think that a suppression device on a firearm makes it in some way more deadly, more covert, or simply more evil, have enjoyed a firearms education via “The Late Late Show.” In those movies, villains and gangsters snarl wickedly as they attach the device to their gun, and the audience is horrified that the sound of the bullet striking a feather pillow is louder than the shot itself. Such flights of fancy make for fun entertainment, but do not accurately describe reality.
In his recent opinion article titled; “NRA wants to suppress important safety feature of a gun,” Mr. Robert J. Spitzer it seems, is quite a fan of the fanciful – given his arguments against suppressors, and his warning of mayhem that will ensue if they are de-regulated. And yes, the better term for the device is “suppressor” rather than “silencer” simply because the device suppresses the sound – it by no means eliminates it. Silence implies the absence of sound. The sound of a gunshot through a suppressor can still be plainly heard – just without the pain. There are currently 42 states that have laws permitting the private ownership and use of suppressors, with Illinois poised to become the 43rd. Many of these states also permit the suppressors to be used while hunting. With almost 85 percent of the United States currently permitting their use, there should be numerous cases of them being used in crime, and for evil purposes – if reality matched Mr. Spitzer’s fantasy.
Hearing damage, on the other hand, is a very real and tangible problem. Worse, hearing damage is cumulative and irreparable. A high price indeed to pay so that someone with a misunderstanding of reality can “feel safer.” Mr. Spitzer warns that criminals and terrorists might now have access to suppressors, making their attacks more deadly. But considering that virtually every action the attacker has taken, and every weapon the attacker has used are illegal, it is doubtful that they draw the line at silencers for reasons of morality or fear of punishment. In fact, the opposite is true – the noise and the panic is an important element of their attack. Mr. Spitzer would suggest then, that the Berlin terrorist attacker in December would have killed and injured fewer people had his truck not had a muffler. Such extreme arguments are meant only to strum emotional strings.
Justin Opinion: STI Hex Tactical 2011: A 9mm Triple-Tap Machine—Full Review.
For the millions of Americans that spend their weekends at the shooting range, and certainly for those who live nearby, reducing the noise level to non-dangerous volumes would indeed be a wonderful thing. The number of hikers accidentally killed or injured by hunters is so small that one must do in-depth research just to find examples. Implying that this would somehow change is a transparent fear mongering tactic. What will change, however – on day one – is the saved hearing and reduced stress of hunting dogs and other nearby companions. The grandson being taught to shoot who momentarily forgets to put on his hearing protection may not be permanently punished, and in turn will be able to hear his grandchildren.
Once again, a voice emerges to predict carnage and blood in the streets if a law or regulation that restores freedom and choices to gun owners becomes reality. Such claims have never become reality. The NRA and the DSSA support the Hearing Protection Act, because it will do exactly what its name suggests, and nothing more.
About the Author: David Crout is an avid shooting sports enthusiast, NRA Instructor, and sits on the Board of Directors of the Delaware State Sportsmen’s Association (DSSA).