Gun owners should always make sure to use proper hearing protection when operating firearms. Unfortunately, evidence from a recent study published in The Laryngoscope, a medical journal that specializes in head and neck disorders including otolaryngology, revealed that many shooters do not employ adequate hearing protection while exercising their Second Amendment rights. While some of the study’s findings are discouraging, the prevalence of excess noise exposure during the recreational use of firearms underscores the importance of pending legislation that would increase access to firearm suppressors.
Titled, “Epidemiology of firearm and other noise exposures in the United States,” the study sought to determine the prevalence of harmful noise exposure in the workplace and in recreational activities, and the frequency with which individuals use hearing protection in these settings. In regards to firearms, the study found that 58.5 percent of adults that had used a firearm in the previous 12 months “always used hearing protection.” Further, the study reported that 21.4 percent “never used hearing protection.” The study’s authors point out that noise exposures from shooting and similar activities without hearing protection have “potentially serious long-term hearing health consequences.”
As part of our mission to train and educate gun owners in the safe handling of firearms, NRA has been adamant about the importance of the proper use of hearing protection. As NRA-ILA pointed out in a recent Grassroots Alert item, even when shooters employ ear plugs or ear muffs for hearing protection, they must be vigilant to ensure to avoid user errors that can degrade the performance of these devices.
The results of the study, and the drawbacks of some widely used hearing protection options, show the importance of increasing access to firearm suppressors. In January, versions of the Hearing Protection Act of 2017 were introduced in the Senate by Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and in the House by Representatives Jeff Duncan and John Carter (R-Texas). So far the Senate legislation has garnered 13 co-sponsors, with the House version picking up 136. The legislation has also become a passion project of Donald Trump Jr., who is an avid shooter and hunter.
This important safety legislation would remove suppressors from coverage under the National Firearms Act, which requires prospective purchasers to complete a lengthy background check procedure and pay for a $200 tax stamp. Under the proposal, suppressors would be governed by the same rules that pertain to non-NFA firearms.
Even with NRA’s consistent message about the importance of hearing protection, the Laryngoscope study suggests that not all gun owners are adequately protecting themselves from the health consequences of noise exposure. While ear plugs and ear muffs are important tools in this battle against hearing loss, expanding access to suppressors will increase the safety options for shooters reluctant to employ other methods of hearing protection.
Please make sure your U.S. senators and congressional representative hear from you on the Hearing Protection Act to protect Second Amendment rights and the health of the American gun owner. It is long past time to discard America’s antiquated and unsupported approach to suppressor regulation. You can contact your member of Congress via our Write Your Reps tool by clicking here or use the Congressional switchboard at (202) 224-3121.