Response to Your Current Position on Suppressors

Senator Brownsberger,

First, thank you for writing back in some detail.

Second, as a member of law enforcement, I am glad you take comments from the LEO’s .

However, I do have some comments.

A suppressor, wither legal or illegal / homemade only suppresses ~ 20-30 decibels of sound and reduces recoil and muzzle flash ~ 90%.

There is still considerable “sound” when being shot, its just reduced to the 70 – 80 Db range for most handguns and above 100 Db for rifles.

The suppressors are not solely for noise reduction, but for shoulder comfort and eye strain from the muzzle flash and for safety considerations.

This law, if passed, provides for legal purchase by those legally entitles to purchase a gun. Background checks, fingerprints, registration, etc.

All it removes is the tax stamp portion ($200.00).

So, legally you can still purchase a suppressor.

However, as a felon, you can not legally own or possess a gun or a suppressor.

If a criminal is so inclined to break the law, building an illegal suppressor out of a tube and steel wool, or a plastic coke bottle is all it takes.

I do not believe your reasoning is valid.

But simply removing the tax stamp requirement, you still must go thru all of the other procedures.

Legal suppressors have not been used in any crime I can find in the state.

Police officers rarely are close enough to the scene of a crime to hear the report from a gun. And if so, they hear all but about 20 – 30 Db of the report.

In an urban setting, echo is the most significant problem in determining location.

While shooters do have other option for hearing protection, resolving issues of recoil and muzzle flash are still problematic.

As is hearing a range officer with ear plug or ear muffs on.

While urban violence is an issue, is removing a tax stamp requirement going to stop an illegal act from occurring?

Responsible gun owners who have no criminal record are the only ones being impacted here in paying a $200 tax.

There are four noises which make up the “boom” one hears when shooting a firearm. The first is the action noise (i.e.: the hammer hitting the firing pin, the slide/bolt cycling, gas escaping though the ejection port). The second is the bullet flight noise. If the round travels faster than the speed of sound, which is approximately 1050fps, there will be an audible “crack” heard by the shooter and those the projectile passes. The third is the bullet striking the target. The last noise associated with the firing of a firearm is the combustion noise hitting the atmosphere when the projectile leaves the barrel. The gasses that pushed the projectile from the barrel are going faster than the speed of sound and typically still burning. The “boom” of the gasses hitting the atmosphere is typically louder than the other noises, which is why the boom generally is all the shooter and those near the shooter hear.

Firearm silencers work in the same manner as mufflers for cars and lawn mowers. Both provide a controlled environment in which the gasses can expand and cool before exiting into the air with less energy and noise. A typical silencer has a casing segregated into chambers by partitions called baffles. Each baffle has a passage through which a projectile can pass. When the host weapon is fired, the projectile exits the barrel and passes through the length of the silencer, but the gases that propel the projectile expand into the baffled chambers where they are temporarily trapped. When they do find their way out of the silencer, the gases have slowed considerably and thus produce less sound.

Silencers are “hearing protection” that attaches to your firearm, not unlike a muffler on an automobile.

OSHA limits impulsive or impact noise at 140dB peak sound pressure [29 CFR 1910.95(b)(1) or 29 CFR 1926.52(e)]. “Hearing Safe” in the Firearms Industry refers to a gunshot that produces less than 140dB peak pressure. By way of comparison, a 1911 45ACP pistol or a 16” 5.56mm rifle produce approximately 165dB peak sound pressure. Decibels are logarithmic, meaning that sound pressure doubles or halves approximately every three decibels you increase or decrease the sound.

For recreational shooting, it’s acceptable to wear hearing protection which will block out a portion of the noise produced from shooting firearms. However, this is not really an option for Military, Law Enforcement or Citizens using firearms for home/property defense. As a result, with every shot these individuals are producing noise that can not only permanently damage their own hearing, but those of individuals around them.

Imagine if in 1934, the government thought that people buying automobiles might run people over in crosswalks because pedestrians wouldn’t hear the approaching vehicle and imposed a $200 tax to possess a muffler. What would it sound like when you walked out your front door?

Although silencers cannot muffle every noise that is associated with the discharge of a firearm, they can greatly reduce some aspects of the process. Silencers primarily reduce the noises associated with “muzzle blast,” by providing the escaping gases baffled chambers in which to expand and depressurize prior to escaping the silencer.

A silenced firearm is eminently more enjoyable to shoot than one without a silencer. Silencers generally increase the accuracy of a host firearm while reducing recoil and eliminating up to 90% of the muzzle signature. Shooters are able to concentrate more on breath control and trigger pull when they are not subjected to the fatigue and distraction of a deafening and bright muzzle report. Beginning shooters are typically not intimidated when introduced to the shooting sports with a silenced firearm. They are able to easily hear instructions given to them by trainers because the report of a host firearm is reduced to below the OSHA guideline level for hearing damage. Silenced firearms are also less likely to disturb people, livestock, or wildlife that may be in close proximity to where you shoot.

Silencers are legal for civilian ownership in 42 states (and counting). Contrary to popular belief, silencers are and always have been legal to own under federal law. Getting one takes just two simple forms. It’s as easy as locating a dealer in your state that sells silencers, filling out and mailing the appropriate forms to the BATFE, waiting patiently, and then picking up your new can and start enjoying the countless benefits of quieter shooting. The paperwork associated with ownership never needs to be renewed. It is a onetime lifetime registration per silencer.

I request you perhaps attend a range and gather some personal info and please reconsider your current position.

Thank you.

3 replies on “Response to Your Current Position on Suppressors”

  1. Mr Carson, you make some very good points here but I just wanted to correct two.

    A suppressor on a typical handgun does not reduce the sound pressure level to 70-80db. Looking at a typical handgun like a .45ACP, the sound level of a shot is around 160db. A suppressor will reduce that to about 130db. That’s still very loud.

    Also, just to be clear, if this bill were to pass, anyone in MA would still be subject to NFA requirements which includes a $200 tax stamp, background check, etc.

  2. I thank you, sir, for this very complete and thoughtful post.

    I understand that suppressors would make shooting safer for hearing and I wish we could allow them.

    But my take is that any reduction noise will reduce detectability (from a distance or through walls) and so possibly delay response to crime and in active shooter disasters.

    Suppressors make guns more dangerous. I agree that the risk is remote . . . that few suppressors will make it into the hands of criminal or dangerously mentally ill people. But it is not a risk that I want to increase.

    I do appreciate the thorough and fair discussion.

    1. Senator your wish we could allow them is very disingenuous. Anyone with the internet can make a suppressor. So any criminal can and would if they wanted one.
      They are legal in 42 states, do you see an actual problem with them, not ones you let your imagination create.
      Even the ATF’s own white paper is considering moving them off the NFA database. page 6 number 8
      The ATF quote “Given the lack of criminality associated with silencers, it is reasonable to conclude that they should not be viewed as a threat to public safety necessitating NFA classification, and should be considered for reclassification under the GCA.”
      As you can clearly see they are not the problem you dream they can be. If they were I’m sure the ATF would not make this recommendation and 42 states that do allow them would be trying to out law them.
      Your position and vote as a state senator effects all residents of the Commonwealth. Suppressors do not make a gun more dangerous. Some could argue they make them less effective by slowing down the speed of the bullets and guns harder to conceal.

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