Thursday, September 27, 2012


I recently had the pleasure of touring the Utah facility where Silencerco and SWR sound suppressors for firearms are manufactured. I toured my first arms plant in the late 1960s and many since, and I’ve never seen a manufacturing facility cleaner or more modern than this one. Their approach to their product is just as clean and modern.
They want to make silencers more readily available to law-abiding citizens. I for one have no problem with that at all.
Before Silencerco absorbed SWR, those companies joined two other firms to create the American Silencer Association. Most of the general public, and even many shooters, are unaware that these devices are legal to own in most states, though it involves going through some legal hoops, and a $200 government fee.
ASA maintains a full-time lobbyist to work in several directions. At the state level, to make it legal for law abiding citizens to have silencers in the jurisdictions where it isn’t now. And, to make it legal to hunt with them, which is not the case in many states. At the national level, the association wants you able to buy one without having to pay $200 to the Federal government for approval, and hopefully streamline the whole process.
Suppressors can be life-savers in emergency shootings inside buildings. Police officers and citizens fending off home intruders are at risk for some hearing loss when they fire powerful weapons in close quarters with their ears unprotected. During the fight, loud gunfire can keep you from hearing something that might make the difference between life and death. Hunters firing high powered rifles without ear protection often notice their ears ringing for some time thereafter, a sign of hearing damage. Cleaning out pastures full of prairie dogs ruining good land, or herds of feral hogs doing the same, means lots of gunfire and multiplies that potential for hearing damage. Ear protection can help, but most types get in the way of hearing where the animal is, and all are uncomfortable for all-day wear in the field. Suppressors solve that problem nicely. I’m told ASA’s efforts have resulted in Texas and Arizona approving silencers for hunters.

In other nations – even anti-gun England – the use of silencers for casual hunting, pest eradication, and recreational shooting in the countryside is encouraged. It is considered the gentlemanly thing to do there, so neighbors are not disturbed.
The 1934 NFA requiring a $200 tax and jumping through numerous regulatory hoops in order to possess a gun muffler has been one of the worst public health disasters created by the federal government. Millions have suffered hearing loss as a result.
This issue is finally coming to a head. There is no logic or reason that gun mufflers should not be available in the local hardware store for $75, as they are in Finland.
The Supreme court in Finland ruled that it was a constitutional right to be able to construct, sell, or trade silencers.
You know we have a real problem when most European nations have less restrictive gun laws in this area than the United States.


Windy Wilson said...

Thank you, that was a very encouraging and informative article.
California, sadly, is not one of those enlightened states.
My cousin, a state park ranger, once had to dispatch a cow that had been struck by a car but managed to lurch into a ditch to lie in agony. He used his service pistol but the walls of the ditch directed the sound back to him causing many months of tinnitis so bad it kept him from sleeping. It's been 25 years since, and fortunately it did not cause him a disability lay off, but as he said afterwards, if he'd thought about it he would have used his muffs.
a silencer would have, of course, prevented much of his discomfort.

Dean Weingarten said...

You are welcome. This area of gun law, like many others, has no defensible rational or logic.