Explore The NRA Universe Of Websites

APPEARS IN News

5 Things Everyone Needs To Know About Suppressors

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

5 Things Everyone Needs To Know About Suppressors

There is an old joke that the “official NRA handshake” is a person saying “What?” as he or she cups a hand behind one ear.

I never liked this joke, as it makes light of a serious issue. Decades ago many gun owners didn’t think it was a big deal that they didn’t wear earplugs or muffs when hunting and at the range. Many shooters who grew up in that culture now have hearing loss or problems with tinnitus (ringing in their ears). Massive public education—much of it from the NRA—taught us about the dangers of shooting without ear and eye protection.

Now we are reaching another milepost in the road to better hearing protection—an age where suppressed guns are polite firearms.I first saw this a decade ago when I had the chance to visit Sako’s plant in Finland and to shoot with a group of Finnish gun writers. Most of them showed up at the range with Sako 85s chambered in .308 Win. What impressed me was that they all had suppressors screwed onto their rifle’s barrels. When I commented on this, one of them said, “It would be very impolite to shoot a rifle without a silencer.” I had to admit he had a point. Using a silencer is polite; just imagine what our roadways would sound like if cars didn’t have mufflers.

Here in the United States, the consumer demand for suppressors (or silencers; the terms are synonyms) has been booming as more states legalize them. Now, Congress is considering legislation to remove hefty fees and mandates that the devices must be registered with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

These positive developments, however, are now being met by resistance from those who are opposed to your right to bear arms. These people want to stop this trend toward more polite firearms for ignorant reasons, or simply for politics.

Certainly, some anti-gun types will oppose any and all developments in firearm technology and rights, but many really just don’t know the facts about suppressors. Likely, the only place they’ve seen them have been in the movies and, in Hollywood productions, when someone screws on a silencer they are about to kill someone. That’s a pretty negative connotation. The truth that these people need to learn is that suppressors don’t make guns whisper quiet, but do make more polite guns.

Here are five things to tell those who don’t know or understand the facts:

The Technology is Old

A “suppressor” is simply a gunshot-muffling device. In 1902, Hiram Percy Maxim invented the gun muffler. He patented it in 1908 and called it the “Maxim Silencer.” More recently, the firearm industry uses the word “suppressor.” Today companies like Silencerco, Sig Sauer and Gemtech are making steady advances in improving the technology, but the basics remain the same.

Suppressed Guns are Not Whisper Quiet

Suppressors don’t completely remove the need for hearing protection, but they can help a great deal. When you fire a gun, a large volume of hot, high-pressure gas exits the muzzle along with the bullet. This gas shooting down gun barrel and exiting makes a lot of noise (“muzzle blast”). A suppressor contains some of those gasses for a fraction of a second and allows them to expand and cool more gradually by circulating them around internal baffles. This helps to lower the decibel level. (Silencerco has a great graphic on how suppressors work.)

A bullet moving faster than the speed of sound (supersonic) also creates a mini sonic boom, however, that suppressors will not take away. The Hollywood myth is that silencers or suppressors turn gunshots into this little pffft kind of noise as the firearm’s action works. That’s nonsense.

How Well Do Silencers Work?

The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) has determined that a decibel (dB) level greater than 140 can cause permanent hearing loss. Silencerco’s research has estimated that a silenced .22 LR rifle gives off about 116 dBs, a silenced 9mm pistol makes about 125 dBs, a jackhammer about 130 dBs and an unsuppressed .223 rifle about 165 dBs. So suppressors can lower the dB level below the detrimental 140 dB level. But OSHA also says that, over time, anything over 85 dBs can damage hearing. The point is, for the most part, even someone firing a suppressed firearm should still wear hearing protection.

Where are They Legal?

Thanks to lobbying from the NRA and others, a lot of states have legalized suppressors in recent legislative sessions. Currently, suppressors are legal for private ownership in 42 states—hunters can use them in 40 states. To see if they are legal in your state the American Suppressor Association has put together a map with resources and links.

If the Hearing Protection Act passes Congress, then buying and owning suppressors will get a lot easier.

Chris W. Cox, NRA-ILA executive director, said, “The Hearing Protection Act would make it easier for sportsmen to purchase the tools necessary to protect their hearing. Many gun owners and sportsmen suffer severe hearing loss, and yet sound suppressors—a tool that can reduce such loss—is overly regulated and taxed.”  

How Do You Get A Suppressor?

Suppressors are regulated under the National Firearms Act (NFA) of 1934, which falls under the purview of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). According to the American Suppressor Association, to legally purchase or possess a suppressor you must live in an area that allows them to be sold and must:

  • Be at least 21 years of age to purchase a suppressor from a dealer;
  • Be at least 18 years of age to purchase a suppressor from an individual on a Form 4 to Form 4 transfer (contingent on state laws);
  • Be at least 18 years of age to possess a suppressor as a beneficiary of a trust or as a member of a corporation (contingent on state laws);
  • Be a resident of the United States;
  • Be legally eligible to purchase a firearm;
  • Pass an ATF background check with a typical process time of four to nine months;
  • Pay a one-time $200 transfer tax; and
  • Reside in one of the 42 states that currently allows civilian ownership of suppressors.

Basically, if you live in one of the states that allows you to purchase a suppressor, you’ll need to fill out forms, pay the high fee and wait—a very long time. If your application is approved, they’ll send it back to you with stamp attached. You can then pick up your suppressor at the store you bought it from. You’ll need to keep a copy of this permit with you when using your suppressor.

Again, federal legislation (the Hearing Protection Act) now introduced in Congress would take away this burden and fee, so call your congressmen and ask them to support this important legislation.



 

BY Frank Miniter

TRENDING NOW
Divided Appeals Panel Upholds California Ban on Post-2013 Pistols

News  

Friday, August 10, 2018

Divided Appeals Panel Upholds California Ban on Post-2013 Pistols

Imagine if California, to combat what the legislature considered the serious problem of manmade global warming, required all new vehicles sold by car dealers in the state to run on grass clippings, rather than fossil ...

King County Unveils “Common Sense” Action Plan: Ban “Semi-automatic, High Velocity Weapons”

News  

Friday, August 10, 2018

King County Unveils “Common Sense” Action Plan: Ban “Semi-automatic, High Velocity Weapons”

In a July 23rd op-ed, Joe McDermott, the Council Chair of King County, Washington, introduced a multi-prong “King County Gun Safety Action Plan” aimed at reducing gun violence.

NoFundMe: NRA Protest March Nets $70 in National Fundraising Effort

News  

Friday, August 10, 2018

NoFundMe: NRA Protest March Nets $70 in National Fundraising Effort

Crowd funding is a relatively recent innovation that allows a person or cause to leverage the vast reach of the Internet to raise money for virtually every imaginable purpose. Even small donations of a few ...

Canada: Toronto Mayor Calls for Gun Bans, Ontario Premier Targets Criminals

News  

Friday, August 10, 2018

Canada: Toronto Mayor Calls for Gun Bans, Ontario Premier Targets Criminals

Canadian anti-gun politicians’ campaign to disarm law-abiding citizens continued this week. On Monday, the Canadian press reported on an August 3 letter from Toronto Mayor John Tory to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. In the missive, Tory appeared to back ...

Adventures in Correlation

News  

Friday, August 10, 2018

Adventures in Correlation

Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut recently linked to a news article about a CDC report on homicides, claiming that “allowing more guns in more places isn’t making us safer. It’s doing the opposite.”

College Lacrosse Coach Discriminates Against Pro-2A Player

News  

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

College Lacrosse Coach Discriminates Against Pro-2A Player

A college lacrosse player at Palm Beach Atlantic (PBA) University in Florida was told by his coach in June that he had to choose between the team or posting his hunting and firearm pictures online. “You ...

California: Several Firearm-Related Bills Sent to their Respective Appropriations Committee Suspense File

Hunting  

Thursday, August 9, 2018

California: Several Firearm-Related Bills Sent to their Respective Appropriations Committee Suspense File

The Senate and Assembly Appropriations Committees met earlier this week and sent all but one firearm-related bill to their respective suspense files to be heard at a later date.  The deadline for bills to pass ...

NRA Statement on 3-D Printers and Plastic Firearms

News  

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

NRA Statement on 3-D Printers and Plastic Firearms

FAIRFAX, Va.— Chris W. Cox, executive director, National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action, released the following statement on Tuesday:  

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

Gun Laws  

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

CAUTION: Federal and state firearms laws are subject to frequent change. This summary is not to be considered as legal advice or a restatement of law.

NRA Challenges I-1639 “Bait and Switch”

News  

Friday, August 3, 2018

NRA Challenges I-1639 “Bait and Switch”

Proving that money can’t buy everything, Washington State’s most recent anti-gun ballot initiative may end up being derailed over a failure to comply with mandatory legal requirements, despite seven-figure funding through hefty donations from local ...

MORE TRENDING +
LESS TRENDING -

More Like This From Around The NRA

NRA ILA

Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.