Donald Trump doesn’t like suppressors. At all. He told a reporter precisely that last week on the South Lawn of the White House before departing on Marine One.
“I don’t like them at all,” replied the president when asked by the reporter if “silencers should be restricted?”
Days later Trump took it one step further, telling Piers Morgan (of all people) that he’d contemplate a retroactive ban of the accessories like his administration did with reciprocating stocks in 2018.
“I’d like to think about it [banning suppressors]. I mean nobody’s talking about silencers very much. I did talk about the bump stock and we had it banned and we’re looking at that. I’m going to seriously look at it. I don’t love the idea of it,” the president said to Morgan during an interview on Good Morning Britain.
Suppressors have been in the headlines following reports that the Virginia Beach suspect used one in the May 31st attack on the city’s municipal center which left 12 people dead (ATF has not yet disclosed where or how the suspect obtained the suppressor).
GunsAmerica reached out to the American Suppressor Association (ASA), the unified voice for the suppressor industry, for comment on Trump’s distressing remarks in the wake of Virginia Beach.
“We vehemently oppose any and all efforts to ban suppressors,” Knox Williams, the group’s president & executive director told GunsAmerica.
“It’s clear that the president doesn’t understand the issue,” Williams continued. For starters, suppressors are regulated by established statute as opposed to bump stocks which were only approved via ATF opinion letters, explained Williams. Trump doesn’t have the legislative power to prohibit suppressors at the federal level. Only Congress has that authority.
Williams cautioned that while Trump may not be able to criminalize the possession of suppressors, he could make it very difficult to obtain one by pulling resources from the ATF and creating indefinite wait times. As it stands right now it can take up to 18 months to get a can.
“The ASA is working extremely hard to ensure that doesn’t happen,” said Williams. In fact, the ASA is hoping to make lemonade out of these proverbial lemons and take this as an opportunity to educate the president on the issue.
“There’s a lot of ‘fake news,’ to use the president’s words, surrounding suppressors,” explained Williams. “We want to communicate to the White House that the media continues to misinform the public. We believe president Trump will be receptive to our messaging because in addition to having the facts on our side his own sons use suppressors and have supported deregulation in the past.”
It’s true. Don Jr. told SilencerCo in a 2016 interview that, “I love your product,” while also lamenting, “I can’t use it in the People’s Republic of New York.”
Jr. also said that when it comes to legislation like the Hearing Protection Act, which would remove suppressors from the National Firearms Act, his father is “obviously going to be for it” and that it wouldn’t make sense for the president not to sign it.
What Trump ultimately decides to do on the suppressor front is anyone’s guess. What is certain, however, is it would be incredibly stupid for him to push a ban before the 2020 election. Given that the gun community is already on guard following the bump stock fiasco, outlawing suppressors would all but ensure that he’d lose the pro-2A vote and, as a result, the election.
Since 2016, Trump has told gun owners the same thing at each NRAAM he’s attended, “I will never let you down.” I don’t know about you but I feel pretty let down as of late.