Let’s get one thing straight right at the get-go: Gun silencers really do not work like they do in the movies. They definitely do NOT reduce the sound of a gunshot to a barely detectable “Pfffft.”
But they are called silencers for a reason: a silencer significantly reduces the sound made when a gun is fired. It is undeniable that a shooter using a weapon equipped with a silencer in a school or a movie theater or from high up in a hotel room will make less noise while killing people than a shooter with an un-silenced weapon. Similarly, it defies logic to suggest a silencer-equipped weapon will be as easy to detect and neutralize in a crisis situation as is an un-silenced, un-muffled weapon.
In 1934, at the end of Prohibition and the gangster era, the U.S. Congress was composed of a sufficient number of reasonable people to understand these undeniable facts. In 1934 the National Firearms Act became law. It regulated silencers along with machine guns and short-barreled rifles and shotguns.
Ask yourself, in this era of mass shootings do you suppose a bill named the Gun Muffler and Silencer De-regulation Act would sail through Congress? Hardly, but that would be truth in packaging, and truth and transparency is not the stock in trade of the Republican Party.
Enter the devotees of the National Rifle Association and the Congresspeople who depend on NRA fervor for their prospects for re-election. The Republican/Libertarian/NRA propaganda machine is expert at re-framing bills to obscure their real purpose.
So we have H.R. 367, The Hearing Protection Act, the simple purpose of which is to de-regulate gun mufflers and silencers, but which the Republicans and the NRA have framed as though it should be supported by everyone. Who, after all, is against “protecting hearing?” McMorris Rodgers is a co-sponsor.
At the Green Bluff town hall on Tuesday, May 29. I challenged McMorris Morris on her co-sponsorship of The Hearing Protection Act, presenting my credentials as a shooter who wears inexpensive and effective ear protection devices. I made the argument regarding mass shootings I just presented. I have a recording of the event. I have transcribed the resulting exchange (the bold is mine):
CMR:The legislation was brought forward by those that…by local law enforcement and by others…who…yes! [in response to challenge] and they say it’s a silencer but it doesn’t…
ME: (interrupting) I’ve shot with silencers. I know what they do. They diminish the sound.
CMR: OK, yes, they diminish the sound… Ah,…well, it was brought forward as the hearing protection amendment. Now…I hear what you’re saying and…with everything going on I tend to think that this is one…that now is not the right time.
ME: So you’re likely to withdraw your co-sponsorship?
CMR: Well, umm, I’m definitely going to take a look again.
“Now is not the right time.” Really? When is the right time for you to co-sponsor and vote for such a dishonestly named bill? Sure, if you want to put up a bill named the “Gun Muffler and Silencer Deregulation Act,” a name that might alert your constituents to discuss its contents on their actual merits, then fine. Do so. Argue for its passage in open forum. But don’t lie to us. Don’t feed us NRA talking points about silencers in movies when we bring up the bill’s actual purpose.
It was only as I transcribed the recording that I realized she had betrayed her real feelings. “…not the right time.” In other words in her eyes my argument had no merit. When there is a lull in student deaths at school shootings, she will gladly push her support for this bill, such is her desire to dismantle all regulation around firearms, such is her devotion to the NRA, such is her dependence on NRA propaganda.
I want a representative who doesn’t depend on deceiving her constituents to pass legislation. She and her Party have rotted from the inside. With Trump’s election the rot is appearing on the surface.
Keep to the high ground,
P.S. Note the NFA did not outlaw, but, instead, regulated.and taxed silencers, machine guns and other weapons. If you want to dive into the weedy details of definitions and court challenges I recommend the wikipedia article on the National Firearms Act. Some gun aficionados and devotees have been fighting over and picking at the NFA ever since it was enacted in 1934. The Hearing Protection Act is just the newest and most cleverly framed attack.