What does it solve?
Silencers pose a significant danger in the wrong hands. They make it harder for bystanders or law enforcement to identify and react quickly to gunshots. Policymakers should block the gun lobby’s dangerous efforts to deregulate silencers.
In an active shooter situation, for example, hearing and recognizing a gunshot can be a matter of life and death. But the gun lobby routinely chooses profits over safety by pushing radical policies that would make it easy for people with dangerous histories to obtain silencers. The gun lobby’s spin focuses on protecting shooters’ hearing, but silencers are not the most effective or the safest way to do so.
Myth & Fact
How it works
Deregulation would allow people with dangerous histories to buy silencers without background checks.
Congress enacted the National Firearms Act (NFA) in 1934 to fight organized crime. The law requires all buyers of silencers, machine guns, and other especially dangerous weapons to pass criminal background checks and comply with other common-sense safety provisions. The gun lobby has tried repeatedly to remove silencers from the NFA, meaning that for the first time in 80 years, felons, domestic abusers, and people with dangerous mental illnesses would be able to buy silencers with no background check. They could do this simply by finding an unlicensed seller. Removing silencers from the NFA would undermine the law’s success in keeping our communities safe from silencer crime. Research shows the use of silenced firearms in crime is rare, showing that the current law is effective in keeping silencers out of criminals’ hands.
Silencers in the wrong hands create serious public safety risks. The loud and distinctive noise that a gun makes is one of its most important safety features: when people hear it, they realize they may need to run, hide, or protect others. In mass shootings, being able to hear and identify the gunshots can mean the difference between life and death.
Silencers are not a “hearing protection” issue. The gun lobby claims their efforts are intended to protect hunters’ hearing, but silencers are not the most effective or the safest way to do so. In fact, silencers make hunting more dangerous, while ear protection products work better than silencers to protect hearing and safety – which is why the U.S. military relies on them, not silencers, to protect soldiers’ hearing.