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 william.brownsberger@masenate.gov.

Published by Will Brownsberger

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

346 replies on “Noise suppressors on firearms”

  1. I do NOT support H.763 and H.789 legalizing firearm suppressor possession in MA. The law banning suppressors is a common sense gun law that contributes to making our community safer. Why any caring MA citizen would think otherwise is completely selfish and irresponsible. Please do NOT support this bill. Thank you.

  2. Hi Will,
    I can only think of benefits to military and law enforcement, not civilians.
    David Benoit

  3. I absolutely oppose legalizing silencers for guns in Massachusetts. We should know when firearms are being used in our vicinity, whether we’re in an urban area or a rural one. The sound a firearm makes when it is being used is an important signal to take cover or use extreme caution. We need that information as a public safety matter.

  4. Will,

    I’m absolutely with you on this. Silencers would only make a violent world more dangerous.

    Sandra Rosenblum

  5. I am newly-informed that hunters may be subject to hearing loss, but can’t summon any sympathy; at least, not enough to think noise suppressors should be legalized. i applaud your caution, as we live in a violent society and I’m loathe to make it easier to kill anyone. Legal guns and other weapons easily end up in illegal, ill-intentioned hands. A shooter in a dark movie theater could kill a dozen people before anyone notices. A murderer could quietly walk away. I’m not willing to risk either. I’ll gladly donate to keep angry gun owners in the minority. Thank you,

  6. I am a supporter of gun rights but I am opposed to silencers. Wear ear plugs.

  7. Dear Senator:

    Thank you thank you thank you for a voice of reason and rationality. There is absolutely no credible reason for law-abiding citizens to support or need or countenance or suggest that it is a 2nd Amendment RIGHT to silence the sound of a gun. You are absolutely correct that a silencer’s main and singular purpose is to make murder easier to get away with, and to turn to the 2nd Amendment as grounds to argue otherwise is to pervert the meaning and purpose of our Constitutional right to bear arms.

    I wholly and utterly oppose House 763 and House 789 and respect and thank you, Senator, for doing the same.

    Allow me to add that I think it is ridiculous that either bill has been introduced and that you and the legislature as a whole have had to spend any time thinking about this ludicrous proposal.

  8. Can’t believe the legislature must waste valuable time with this bill. It’s a no brainer; you are absolutely correct that silencers give criminals an advantage. If hunters want less noise, use bows and arrows.

  9. No gun silencers. I cannot even believe Massachusetts legislators would be considering such a backwards measure. This is another instance of the pro-gun violence lobby rearing its ugly head. Please stand firm and vote no.

  10. I completely agree with your reasoning. Absolutely no on silencers. Hunters can wear ear plugs.

  11. I am in complete agreement with senator’s position. We do not need to make getting away with criminal activity easier and undermine efforts of law enforcement professionals.
    No gun silencers in MA.
    Thank you.

  12. I guess you don’t have to be a Republican to be stupid…..Democrats are so busy blaming Republicans….. They have forget their own role in defeat……and their own duty ( top priority) to protect & serve the American Citizens who voted for them & the rest of their constituents!

    Many of our most populous cities are Minoritiy Cities ( Boston-New York-Los Angeles-Detroit-Chicago-St Louis-San Francisco-Washington DC-Cleveland- etc.) where we all know….. Shootings…violent crime…..lack of jobs…. high drop out rates in schools…biases…
    . gangs…..drugs….housing problems..many children without paternal financial support & so much more ……!

    I mention this….. because our “Country” is only as strong/weak as our Common Denominator.

    America has some major problems in a changing economics & dangerous world…. yet our Ma/Boston legislators think voting to be a Sanctuary City/State is the answer to what end ? Illegal/ undocumented immigrants add to any & all “inner city ” problems . You & others don’t believe that …… but how can not ! Let’s talk about how strong $ successful ” legal immigration has been for 100 years !

    Anyway—– Ma is supposed to be a strong Anti – Gun State….yet apparently according to daily news……teenagers have No problem getting guns

    Now we can have” Quiet Drive- Bye Shootings !
    No question —if Silencens become legal——- Absolutely Positively shootings will increase & convictions will be down !

    Just think in a couple years ——- You people on Beacon Hill will vote for having sex & marriage to the family dog will be legal!

    1. If the dog is over 18 (human years) and can read and understand the marriage contract, why the hell not!

  13. Absolutely not! I cannot see the benefit to society of silencing guns.
    Sincerely, Katherine Greenough, Boston

    1. You seeing something as not having a benefit to society has nothing to do with it being legal. In a free society the burden of proof is on the legislators to prove why something should be banned, not the reverse. There are a million legal things that I see as having no benefit to society, and many of them cause far more harm than suppressors.

  14. I am opposed to allowing silencers. Give the deer a fighting chance. 🙂

  15. I am very opposed to legalizing silencers (what possible lawful purpose do silencers serve) or for weakening our gun control laws in any way. It is clear that you received these emails as part of a targeted mass mailing effort by the NRA.

  16. Good morning, Will. I own and use firearms and am sympathetic to hunters, though disagree with those who want to suppress the sound of gunfire when hunting, as it’s important for others in the vicinity to be alerted to the presence of active hunting. Moreover, the use of silencers on handguns poses a greater issue in situations where humans are the prey.

    Josh Alper

  17. First, suppressors do not silence. There is still very audible sound, but not at dangerous levels. The term silencer is not accurate and gives the wrong impression. It is basically Hollywood fiction and fantasy. Go listen to some.

    I’ve been involved in Scouting in various positions including Scoutmaster for well over a decade. One thing that stood out for me was reading about the use of suppressors at Scout camps in other parts of the Country. They prevent a serious health issue for young shooters that can impact children for life.

    Exposure to non-suppressed firearms has very serious long-term hearing loss, even with the use of ear plugs or muffs. Suppressors are legal in most states because they provide a proven medical benefit.

  18. Hearing gunshots allows by-standers to be alerted and take cover, which could save lives before law enforcement arrives.

  19. I agree with Senator Brownsberger’s thought process on this issue and am opposed to legalizing silencers. While I understand that it could be helpful to hunters and other parties, that does not come close to balancing out the negative impact it would have on the ability to manage illegal activity. Supporting the suppressor legislation would make it easier for gun related crimes to go undetected, which is not good for our communities.

  20. Dear Will,

    Thanks for your stand on this! The legitimate concerns of legitimate gun users (I have hunters in the family) can be met by other means.

    The gun lobby looks for openings and pushes. Let’s not give them another another victory.

    Tom Best

  21. If your hobby is making you go deaf… it’s time to find another hobby. Don’t bend to NRA lunacy! The fact that we are even considering this measure shows the extent of the far-right’s influence.

  22. No to silencers.

    This is not a 2nd amendment issue. The benefit for the very few who might “need it” is FAR OVERSHADOWED by the danger imposed by silent violence.

    Gracious. Don’t even get me started…

    1. The fact that they are legal in 42 states with almost no negative consequences proves you wrong.

  23. There is no sound reason to legalize silencers. Their only purpose is to hide the fact that a gun has been fired. If a person is firing a gun all people in the surrounding area need to know about it in order to protect themselves. I am definitely opposed to this legislation.
    Thank you for considering my opinion.

  24. Suppressors have nothing to do with urban violence. Do you really expect your average gangbanger to submit application to BATFE, pay $200 for a tax stamp, wait 10 month for an approval(that he probably won’t receive because he has a criminal record) and then pay $800 for a suppressor? Nope. That’s what law abiding people do in free America where hearing protection isn’t prohibited. The above mentioned gangbanger would spend couple of hours and illegally manufacture one out of flashlight body and $20 worth of small parts using common household tools. Your laws mean absolutely nothing to him.

  25. Will, Thank you for your reasoned and principled stand on this issue. I agree with your points completely, and am glad to know I can rely on my senator not to pass foolish legislation that would likely increase violent crime.

  26. Will,
    I agree totally with your stand on this question. The arguments for silencers are weak in the extreme. Please vote NO on this.

    1. The arguments AGAINST suppressors are weak and extreme. Too many sheep in this state are content to allow the government to take rights away because they see no need for them. The opposite standard should always apply – rights should only be taken away when there is good cause to do so. The statistics of 1.3 MILLION suppressors in circulation with only 44 prosecutions related to them in the last 10 years proves that a lot of stuff should be banned before suppressors are banned. If you want them to remain banned then it’s just because they hurt your feelings.

  27. There is absolutely no evidence that the ongoing spread of suppressor legalization has had any impact on the rate of gun violence. There are 42 states that have legalized suppressors. There has been no wave of crimes with these items.
    The fear of suppressors is not founded in any fact.

      1. In January 2017 the Associate Deputy Director and Chief Operating Officer of the ATF released a statement. There are over 1.3 million suppressors. Only 44 suppressor related prosecutions over the past 10 years. (The statement does not specify if the prosecutions were related to criminal shooting or just criminal possession.)

        See the full text. Relevant section is bottom of page 6.
        http://apps.washingtonpost.com/g/documents/national/read-the-white-paper-on-firearms-regulations/2325/

  28. Will, totally agree with your instincts on this issue. I cannot see a practical reason for legalizing silencers, especially in an urban/suburban environment like your district.

  29. I am a gun owner but not a hunter, yet. I shoot a .22LR.

    If one searches the net, one can “learn” how to build a personal silencer.

    So, the proposed law to legalize silencers is window-dressing, IMHO

    1. The only window dressing here a legitimate argument to make mankinds most effective killing weapon to date quieter. NRA builds the arguments, spreads the info, lets 2nd amenders do the leg work. This is all about money. The gun lobby wants a new revenue stream in MA, since guns are tough to get, try to make suppressors easier.

  30. You people understand that passing the Suppressor Bill just allows a law abiding citizen the ability to purchase a suppressor in Ma right? You still have to apply through atf, pay a large tax and wait several months for approval before you can even purchase the suppressor. Oh, and that’s on top of applying for a license to carry through your local police department, which if the licensing officer had a bad lunch that day or is a little cranky can deny you of your rights at the point making all of this irrelevent anyway.You can purchase a suppressor in 42 states, which includes Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine and Conneticut all states that share a border with Ma, and there has been zero increase of crime involving supressors in those states(or at least I could find no studies to indicate there has been), and there has been zero incidents of criminals using them in Ma. Which would make your logic of “legalizing suppressors will make it easy for criminals to get them” totally false. Instead of trying to regulate and limit what people who actually follow the laws do in this state, maybe you and your base should start to worry about what you can do to put a stop to the “urban crime” (as you put, which I wonder what you could mean by that…) But that would mean you would have to actually enforce laws on bad people doing bad things, not trying to let all these violent offenders back out into already vulnerable communities.

    1. Makes no sense what so ever its just another excuse to infringe on the people oof mass. 2nd amendment rights that we shouldnt even have to ask permintion for or jump through hoops for .however because we are law biding citizens we will play the game . Mass . Is only 1 of 8 states that ban surpressers . Only 8 ,so that means 42 states in the union have it wrong? This is a load of crap . Tto put the excuse on the (urban gun violence )is a cop out . I am positive these politicians who dont support supressor ownership for civilian use and think they know whats best for people are not aware how easy it is to fabricate a ghost surpresser .all you need is an oil filter or a plastic soda bottle, or a battery drilled to accommodate the caliber of weapon being used ,or hell even a big enough potato will do the trick . So if these politicians think surpressors are going to escolate urban gun violence ,they ignorant to the fact that urban gun violence is escolating everyday and cant control it now . So why penalize law abiding gun owners of Massachusetts? Its time for politicians to stop being ignorant and step out of conservative dark ages .

    2. Suppressors are to avoid getting caught perpetrating a crime. “Law abiding citizens” therefore have no legitimate reason to have a silencer. Any argument to the contrary is pathetically transparent as NRA-inspired dogma, and is simply foolish as well as dangerous.

      1. The other states who have legalized these suppressors have had no spike in violence whats so ever. So now what?

  31. I hate that there are so many shootings in my city. Adding silencers will do nothing to reduce the number of guns currently on the streets

    1. If only Ma legislators would make a law making it illegal for someone without a license to carry a firearm to be in possession of a gun…oh wait there is, and criminals don’t follow the law.. And you say “adding silencers” to the street, like some vendor is going to be giving them away in downtown Boston, you aren’t making sense. The suppressor bill does nothing to change how suppressors are regulated, it just says if you are a law abiding ma resident who also possesses a license to carry you can have one in this state without being charged with a felony.

  32. Dear Will:
    I fully support your position!
    We need to stop the gun madness, please hold the line against the NRA and all its fanatic supporters. It is amazing to me how the gun lobby can twist peoples logic to somehow make it look like owning a gun has something to do with freedom and safety. Every study and every comparison with other countries shows that more guns will kill more people. It is pretty basic and common sense.

    When my kids were little, the gun issue made me seriously consider leaving this country again because I was afraid for the safety of my family. I am still afraid, but very thankful that we live in a state that has fairly strict laws about gun ownership.

    I have been in the military, I have shot guns, I actually enjoy shooting, but I know how dangerous they are and how easy it is to kill someone with one. No one should need a gun other than for going hunting or fighting a war!

    So yes, please: no silencers, no assault rifles, no mega magazines, no exploding bullets, mandatory safety training, waiting periods, background checks, registration requirements, tough laws against abuse of gun rights, finger print sensors, lock away requirements, …

    Let’s work on saving 30,000 lives every year.

    1. -The ability of law abiding citizens to purchase a suppressor will have no affect on crime.

      -“Assault rifles” are already highly regulated and near impossible for the average person to obtain. I think you ment to say “assault weapons”, which is a made up term that describes a semi automatic rifle that looks “scary” but is no more dangerous than literally any other semi automatic rifle that you can go into any firearms store in Ma and buy right now. Rifles of any kind including the “assault weapons” you are so scared of are responsible for right around 1 percent of firearm deaths in the country, and if I’m not mistaken not 1 person has been killed with an “assault weapon” in Ma in the last 7 years. It is a fake term used by fake crusaders trying to create a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist.

      -What is a “mega mag”….

      -High explosive incendiary rounds are military use only, so let’s not try and write laws for a problem that doesn’t exist, you probably ment tracer rounds which just makes it so you can see where a round went, and the only added danger is you might catch some dry leaves on fire but thankfully for you, those are already illegal in Ma.

      – The next couple things are already a reality in Ma, safety training, background checks, “registration” etc.

      The only coherent thing you said and which everyone will agree on is tough laws against abuse of gun rights. Why don’t you look into how many “straw purchasers” are actually charged, convicted and sentenced to the min. jail sentence. I’ll save you time, it’s incredibly rare or wonderful judges and district attorney’s let them plead out to lesser charges usually avoiding any jail time at all. Maybe we should be concerning ourselves with enforcing laws we already have and stop trying to create laws to problems we don’t have and restricting the rights of law abiding citizens in this state because it’s been happening for too long, but what a shock…criminals are still committing crimes, with zero regard for your laws.

  33. I would certainly not favor legalizing silencers – it really makes no sense. Why do this?

  34. Dear Will,

    I agree with your position and I urge you to please oppose bills that would legalize the purchase and/or use of gun silencers in the state of Massachusetts.

  35. My opinion is that firearm silencers are not appropriate in Massachusetts or in other states. Hearing a gunshot, even from a legal game hunter, is a safety consideration.

    Much of Massachusetts is heavily populated. Our urban law enforcement officers need to hear from citizens in the vicinity of a gunshot to investigate the incident.

  36. There are surrounding states that allow suppressor with no increase in shooting. Out of those states multiples allow you to buy suppressors as a firearm attachment (no registry required)(no permit required) yet criminals in Massachusetts are not travelling across state lines to buy them, but nothing is stopping them from doing it. I will refer you to youtube (homemade suppressors) were you can watch how easy it is to make a suppressor with a car oil filter or a flashlight. We do not live in a police state, but in your feedback you only referred to inner city law enforcement. At the same time dismissing law abiding citizens, shooting ranges, and neighbors to those ranges. If the suppressor problem was going to be there it would already be there (with homemade or legilly bought out of state suppressors). I Am a firm believer that this act should pass. I would also support a increase in punishment if a suppressor was used in a crime. You punish individuals for crimes, not groups for what if.

  37. You’ll support science on Global Warning, yet, you won’t listen to science on Suppressors? It Seems as if your science-mindedness is selective reasoning for political gain, herein!

    Fred Hill
    5 East Park Drive
    Covington, Kentucky
    41015-1503

      1. Your missing the point that criminals are not going to fill out a form at a gun shop. Pay a tax stamp of 200 bucks get a 3 month long background check then get the go ahead from the ATF to buy a silencer then go kill someone with it…….

          1. Then why don’t you just say so instead of going through this charade of caring about your firearms owning constituents. Just say, I have been shown clear evidence, but I chose to ignore simply because, you know guns! Dog whistle politics at its best.

    1. Fred, with all due respect, why is it your concern what we do up here in Massachusetts? I suspect that quite a number of commenters below are from outside of Will’s district and also outside of Massachusetts.

    2. Listen to science? You mean like numbers? Check out the numbers of gun crime here compared to gun ownership in other countries where it’s almost impossible to get a weapon. Then you can look at numbers right here in the USA: simply owning a gun makes it 4 times MORE likely a member of your own household will get shot-not a burglar or Obama’s army.

  38. I think that you should support it. Give the 2nd ammendment a break from sideways politicians like yourself. They are a good alternative to ear protection durring hunting. Durring range time. If we replaced ear muffs with a suppressor it would make the shooter more aware of his or her surrounding. No big peice odd equipment of her head blocking your peripheral vision, distracting a person from getting a sporters attention. To me it sou ds like common sense to support this bill and re read the constitution. “We the people” Mr. Brownsberger.

      1. Yea, lets weigh these out on the scales of justice: on one side you might have the concentration of a handful of sportsman, maybe a couple times a week; on the other you saturate the state with a way to make the most effective killing machine ever invented even quieter.

        Hmm, justice maybe be blind but she’s not stupid.

  39. Will:

    I agree with the position you outlined in your letter and with your reasoning.

    Let’s keep silencers illegal in Massachusetts.

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