Noise suppressors on firearms

I’ve been hearing from people asking me to legalize gun silencers. It’s not something I want to do.

Over the past week, I’ve gotten approximately 1200 emails (mostly from outside my district) along the following lines:

As a law-abiding Second Amendment supporter in Massachusetts, I urge you to please support both H.763 and H.789.

H.763 and H.789 are similar bills which would legalize firearm suppressor possession in the Bay State. Both H.763 and H.789 would repeal the current prohibition for the use and possession of firearm suppressors and replace the removed section with a provision that would allow the possession of these devices by law-abiding citizens.

Once again, as your constituent, I urge you to please support H.763 and H.789. Thank you.

After hearing on the issue, I have responded as follows:

Thanks for writing about the suppressor legislation.

I have received over 1000 emails on the subject and yesterday, I listened carefully to lengthy testimony on this issue from both proponents and opponents.

I am pretty convinced at this stage that I should not support this legislation.

Urban law enforcement personnel are firmly opposed — making gunshots quieter makes them harder to detect. We heard testimony that shot detectors can detect suppressed shots, but I did not find that testimony credible. The suppressors have to reduce the range and sensitivity of detectors, even if they do not prevent detection of nearby shots. Even if the shot detectors do not degrade, the detector that most people use, the ear, certainly will be less able to detect shots from a distance.

I know that lawful gun users are mostly not the ones committing crime. But, we have a huge struggle on our hands to contain urban violence and we do not want to bring more suppressors into circulation in our state.

I understand the benefits for shooters in terms of hearing loss. Shooters should wear hearing protection and they have many good options for that.

I sympathize with hunters, who naturally do want to hear everything around them. But, at least in our state, that concern does not outweigh the higher concern about urban violence.

House 763 and House 789 would both repeal G.L., s.10A. That section has been on the books in Massachusetts since 1926.

To me, it is common sense that making guns quieter will make it easier to get away with murder. Granted that legal gun owners are not the ones most likely to commit crime, but why would we want to put more of the devices into circulation in Massachusetts? There is always a risk of diversion.

Response to comments, October 13, 10:30PM

Thanks to all who have weighed in here. And kudos to Mr. Carson for his very thoughtful comments in a separate post.

I just want to respond to one comment that often gets repeated: Suppressors are not silencers. Guns are still very loud with suppressors attached. Got it. But there certainly could be cases where being somewhat less loud would allow a shooting to continue for longer before it was detected (from a distance or through walls).

I also understand that suppressors do have real health benefits — so we are balancing speculative public safety benefits against clear shooter health benefits. But at least for now, I’m coming down on the side of broader public risk reduction.

I also understand that suppressors are hard to get, but that doesn’t mean that someone in a licensed person’s household won’t get them indirectly as in Sandy Hook. Likely? Maybe not, but it only takes one to do a lot of damage.

I’m closing this thread to comment, but if you can always reach me at

Published by Will Brownsberger

Will Brownsberger is State Senator from the Second Suffolk and Middlesex District.

346 replies on “Noise suppressors on firearms”

  1. Why would a citizen need to silence or conceal where they are shooting from? Makes no sense. Will put law enforcement in danger.

  2. I can’t see any argument why a person using a gun legally would need a silencer. I strongly oppose these bills.

  3. Senator, you’re absolutely correct to oppose this legislation. There is absolutely no reason people should need silencers. Please vote “no” on this important issue.

  4. I don’t see why people need silencers. All it would do is help people looking to commit crimes. This isn’t necessary for self-defense, and I urge you to vote against legalizing them.

  5. I think you’re right, Senator Brownsberger, to oppose these bills. Gun silencers’ downsides far outweigh any perceived benefits.

  6. I cannot think of any good reason for permitting silencers on guns. All of the answers to the arguments listed above seem solid to me.


  7. Senator you are 100% right on this. Simply put silencers will make it easier to commit murder. If a gun owner is on the shooting range they can wear ear protectors, If they are hunting you are taking about rifles and shotguns, No one has ever show that there is a hearing loss from hunting. Why would you need silencers on these weapons?
    This is just part of a national NRA effort to destroy all regulations on guns. Public safety requires keeping silencers illegal.

  8. I am firmly opposed to House Bills 763 and 789, which would legalize gun silencers. Silencers would only make it easier for gun crimes to be committed. Our state has done fine without silencers for nearly a century. There’s no reason to legalize them now.

    Thank you.

    Susan Hall

  9. I do not see any reason to increase the number of silencers in the state of MA. I firmly oppose both H.763 and H.789.

    Please do not fall for the gun lobby’s tactics.

  10. I agree with your weighing of the pros and cons Will. On balance, allowing suppressors seems likely to cause more harm than good. As always, thank you for being open to hearing and understanding both sides of the debate.

  11. Fully agree for Will Brownsberger to oppose this bill. Big question is what a good reason behind to pass this bill at all? 99% of citizens will oppose this in my opinion, why some try to push it?

    1. The folks that are interested is seeing this pass are the folk that generally have direct knowledge and experience on the topic.

      What we see with issues like this, there are many opinions of which a great deal are based on fantasy. That’s not to say that their thoughts are invalid, simply that those who are against these bills may not have little relevant or direct experience. Or, they are basing their logic on emotion.

      A suppressor reduces the sound level. It does not make a firearm “silent”. They, in fact, increase the safety to those near a firearm discharge.

      I, for one, would rather ensure the protection of myself and those nearby when discharging a firearm in a lawful manner. I would rather see lawful citizens to be allowed that choice to practice their sport in a safer manner.

      A criminal, on the other-hand, can choose to obtain or build a suppressor without the blessing of the law. A law against possession of suppression devices does not affect their activity one iota. If they want one, they will have one.

      I am in support of these bills that would legalize the possession of firearm suppressors in Massachusetts to those who hold the appropriate firearm licenses.

  12. I totally support your rationale for opposition to allowing silencers.
    I would suspect that the NRA has prompted the large number of comments you have received in favor of allowing silencers.

  13. I appreciate your recognition of the impact of the noise on range shooters and hunters, but I agree with your overall assessment to not support the H.763 and H.789 legislation.

  14. I oppose legalizing gun silencers. I support law enforcement officers. Urban gun violence is bad enough, why make the job harder for policeman on the street who are protecting us?

  15. I’m going to reserve judgement on the suppressors for handguns, but the hunting reasoning (“don’t want to hear everything around them”) is suspect.

    As a hunter I’d WANT to hear everything around me. If a rifle has been shot, I wanna know about it from a safety concern. That’s why if I’m in the woods, I’m much more terrified of an inexperienced bow hunter than an inexperienced hunter with a rifle.

    The argument loses credibility in my mind. I see no good reason in this environment to vote for the legislation.

  16. On a basoc level this is not about James bBond but sound supression. If you have ever been to an indoor range, it is extremely loud. Some use both the ear inserts and head gear. Illegal guns will come with a suppressor if that’s what they want, and this law has nothing to do with that. We have not had even ONE interstate trafficking conviction for the 2/3 Of guns used in crime that are from out of state illegally. No one seems to talk about that….if someone has data to the contrary please share!

  17. Use of gun silencers (gun suppressors)by the general public (law abiding or otherwise)should NOT be legal in Massachusetts.

  18. I’m glad you’re not confused on this issue, Will! Neither am I. Do not legalize silencers.

  19. Thank you, as always, for asking for comment –

    I fully applaud exercise of the second amendment for hunting and the knowledge of what is still wild that comes through hunting, but I worry a lot about the slippage of discipline that comes when people are angry and have developed private fantasies that the power of a gun may bring if 1. they own one, 2. they carry one, and 3. are more likely to be able to use without detection, even in public places where the objects of anger may also be public figures.

    Altogether, there is much to be anxious about in the present world. We shouldn’t ramp up the possibilities yet further with ready availability of guns that may not be heard.

  20. Silencers are a terrible idea. It will make potential killers bolder and literally let murderers get away with murder. Project this legislation with everything you have

  21. I really don’t care. I might support for shotguns but not rifles or handguns. It would help with hearing loss during hunting and trap shooting but not enough to balance issues with use on hand guns and crime.

  22. Sen. Brownsberger,

    I agree with your position. For hearing protection, there are already options that protect the gun user. The only other legitimate argument would be to protect people other than the gun user, but again, ear protection already exists; presumably, if the gun is being used legally and responsibly, the user and those around them should already be using ear protection.

    This leaves the negative effects of suppressors: making it more difficult for law enforcement to detect and triangulate the location of a shooter, as well as making it easier for mass shooters to attack more people in a location without raising an alarm, in the way that an non-suppressed gunshot would.

    Overall, the negative effects, I feel, would outweigh any benefits from making silencers legal.

    Thank you,

  23. Will,

    This state level legislation will not change the fact that suppressors (the correct technical term) are still registered with the ATF under the National Firearms Act. That means that not only does a person buying one in Massachusetts need to have a MA LTC (which requires as much background checks as police and teachers go through), they’re further registered and background checked by the ATF.

    Further, and I don’t mean to be disrespectful here, but the idea that making guns quieter makes it easier to get away with murder is a result of Hollywood. When a gun has a suppressor mounted, it’s still far from silent. In fact, you’ll still want to where hearing protection. Many people at gun ranges actually use double hearing protection, such as foam ear plugs plus ear muffs. The suppressor, as a practical matter, means you can get away with only one form of hearing protection instead of two.

    If you think that “silencers” will really make people more inclined to murder someone, you need to consider what this says about our current LTC system. Further, suppressors are legal in nearly every other state, with the caveat stated about ATF registration. There’s plenty of data out there about how often they’re used in crimes (the data saying, essentially, never).

    So, I’ll say it again, these suppressors would be registered with the ATF (includes the owner’s name and a thorough background check) and the owners in MA would have an LTC (which means an extremely thorough background check).

    1. Yes, firearm noise suppressors are registered, are licensed, and are still noisy.

      Violence enthusiasts keep reciting these facts as if they are actual reasons to use firearm noise suppressors.

      They are not.

      These facts are irrelevant, because they don’t offer any logical reason to legalize the use of suppressors.

  24. I can not imaginable why any reasonable person would support silencers. Maybe it allows more than one shot on a herd of deer or not disturbing your urban neighbors with target practice in your back yard. Maybe gang members who want to make hits more privately. We have to many armaments now. What ever the benefits that i can not imagine the detriments are greater.

  25. I absolutely oppose the legalization of silencers. To do so would be but encouragement of those hesitatingly on the line to get revenge. Just makes one more likely to think they can get away with murder. Practical reasons are insignificant in comparison.

  26. How on earth would the general public benefit from legalizing silencers on guns? What purpose do they serve besides hiding a crime or, act violence? Legalizing them is a frightening thought.

  27. Dear Will,

    I completely agree with your common sense opinion on this issue. I’m astounded that so many of your constituents would support these bills.


    Daniel Yazbek

  28. Both these bills should be voted down.
    The 2nd amendment says nothing about silencers; so that’s a specious argument. Silencers only promote stealthy use of guns.
    The “hearing protection” argument is weak and only an excuse.

    How’s about proposing a licensing and tax plan on the sale of ammunition?

  29. I can understand people being concerned about their hearing, but considering the many sources of noise pollution around us, I believe people who want to protect themselves from noise of gun shots should wear earphones. I think people should be able to hear the noise of killing or maiming other people, animals or just the environment. Don’t make it easier to ignore the damage shooting does. Suppressing the sounds made by guns is NOT a constitutional issue. Reject this bill.

  30. Definitely NO to allowing gun suppressors.
    There can be no rational, sane reason for allowing them. All that would do would be to make guns more invisible.

  31. I would start with standardization of gun permit issue process. Who cares about silencers when there are artificial barriers to exercising your 2-nd Amendment rights in so many municipalities in MA?

  32. Senator Brownsberger,

    I support your opposition to silencers. They have no place in the Commonwealth.

    Thank you.

  33. Thank you for listening to us, your constituents.

    I totally agree with you Senator Brownsberger. The effort to make silencers acceptable only makes killing people easier.
    All of the reasons supportive of silencers are bogus. Isn’t the real reason for promoting silencers to sell more guns and paraphernalia?
    I grew up with hunting rifles and a shotgun. I would not count hearing issues as a problem as I did not fire the rifle excessively. The purpose of each shot was to get meat for the dinner table.

    Now, our country has lost its sanity in this mania for guns. Guns are no longer for providing food; they are for killing people and they do. Allowing silencers only further facilitates the killing of Americans.
    I urge you to stick firmly with your commonsense conviction and block any effort by the NRA and gun industry to make silencers in Massachusetts legal.
    Thanks for your willingness to swim against the NRA induced tide of emails and messages.

  34. Legalization of silencers should not happen, even though there is probably a black market for them.

  35. Please continue not to support this legislation. I fully agree with you that the urban dangers outweigh any added benefits for hunters.

  36. As usual, Will, you’ve summarized the advantages and disadvantages of legalizing silencers quite well. I agree with your analysis.

    I am opposed to legalizing silencers, and ask you to oppose their legalization.

    As a researcher in acoustics, I can confirm that shot location detection technology works better when the events (shots) it is trying to detect are higher amplitude. Reducing the amplitude of the target events reduces the range over which those events can be accurately detected, and the accuracy with which their location can be estimated. Silencers, of course, reduce the amplitude of gunshots (otherwise the argument vis-a-vis hearing loss would not make sense).

  37. Please count me in with your constituents who do NOT favor this legislation. Thank you.

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