When you hear the title Hearing Protection Act, I’ll bet you don’t associate it with lifting the restrictions on gun owners purchasing silencers.
I’ll also bet you wouldn’t imagine that someone who narrowly missed being shot earlier this year when a deranged gunman opened fire at a congressional baseball practice would co-sponsor such an abomination.
You would be wrong.
In June, The Hearing Protection Act, which lifts the restrictions on silencers, was folded into the Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act (SHARE Act), a bi-partisan package that typically passes easily.
Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL), who has apparently learned nothing from his close call with the Grim Reaper, has decided to back H.R. 367, sponsored by Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC). The bill removes silencers from the list of regulated items enumerated in the National Firearms Act of 1934. It would eliminate virtually all – and in some states, absolutely all – regulations on the purchase of a silencer. The only barrier would be an instant background check. However, some states don’t require background checks for guns sold privately, online or at gun shows. That means not a damn thing would stand between you, your family and friends, and some nut with a gun and an ax to grind who would prefer to grind it quietly and attract no attention.
Retired ATF special agent and senior policy advisor at Americans for Responsible Solutions David Chipman said the legislation “assaults the interests of our nation’s law enforcement officials and threatens our public safety and security.” He went on to say, “When silencers are used in crime, the results are particularly deadly.”
But to the NRA, this is a HUGE business opportunity. An operative for the gun industry summed it up:
There are 300 million firearms out there and (about) 1 million silencers. That shows you the relative scale of the business opportunity.
Previously, obtaining a silencer required submitting an application, passing a background check, being fingerprinted, paying a fee of $200, and registering the silencer with the ATF.
Donald Trump, Jr., who by the way, is the NRA spokesman for this effort, thinks it’s a great idea to scuttle those pesky regulations; and, during an interview with one of the largest manufacturers of gun silencers, said that regulating the devices is just another example of “arbitrary policies by people who don’t know what they’re talking about.”
I guess Chipman and his ATF resume is one of the people whom Trump Jr. thinks knows nothing about guns, silencers, and the deadly combination they pose. Meanwhile, the Trump boys, who delight in killing endangered animals for the fun of it, are obviously more in the know, because you know – FREEDOM!
The cheerleaders for this potentially deadly law say no, this won’t hurt anyone! We’re merely trying to protect the hearing of all those people at firing ranges and hunters out in the wilderness. We can’t have them going deaf just because some snowflake liberals think that silencers are bad! Why just look at what Todd Rathner, a gun rights activist and executive director of the NFA Freedom Alliance, had to say:
“If firearm sound suppressors were treated the way lawnmowers and chainsaws were treated, they would be required on firearms,” adding that opposing silencers is “a cynical knee-jerk reaction, not one based on knowledge or experience.”
Law enforcement has a different take. A memo recently released by the Law Enforcement Coalition for Common Sense and signed by more than a dozen current and former law enforcement officials stated what should be painfully obvious to anyone who values the lives of our police officers and civilian population:
Silencers mask the sound of a gun, changing the sound into one not easily recognized as gunfire. As a result, assassination-style murders become easier, and bystanders may not know to alert first responders…This proposal would pose an additional threat to law enforcement at a time where officer safety is already at increased risk.
The only good thing about this measure is that, since its introduction in January, it has not yet been brought up for a vote. But that may soon change. The House Committee on Natural Resources held a hearing on the SHARE Act and issued the final markups on September 12. Backers expect a House vote soon, with the legislation passing and once again delivering money into the pockets of the gun industry while displaying a flagrant disregard for the safety of our law enforcement officers and civilians alike.