GUTTING THE FEDERAL REGULATION OF GUN SILENCERS

H.R. 367/S. 59, the Hearing Protection Act of 2017 eliminates silencers from the requirements of the National Firearms Act. This legislation would make it easier for criminals to obtain these deadly weapons, escalating gun violence in American communities and allowing dangerous individuals to elude law enforcement. S. 733 - A bipartisan effort recently buried this legislation in the Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) Act in an effort to push it through unnoticed by the public.

Regulation of silencers under the National Firearms Act has worked for decades. Since the 1930s, Americans have been able to legally obtain silencers through the ATF after undergoing a thorough background check process and registering the silencer with federal law enforcement. As a result of these protections, silencers are rarely used in crime. Deregulating silencers would remove these safeguards, making it easy for individuals unable to pass a background check to obtain these dangerous weapons through unregulated private sales on the internet and at gun shows—and to use them in violent crime.

Silencers mask the sound of a gun being fired. Effective regulation has made silencers extremely difficult for criminals to obtain, but when they have, the results are devastating. Past criminal use of silencers has resulted in assassination-style murders where first responders cannot quickly identify the source of gunfire. In February 2013 Christopher Dorner targeted four law enforcement officers in what the Police Foundation described as a bizarre act of vengeance—a “gang-style hit” on individuals while sitting in a car. Police were initially puzzled as to why no neighbors heard the 14 shots: it was because Dorner used a silencer.

Proliferation of silencers would increase the threat to law enforcement by active shooter incidents by masking the location of the gunman. In the July 2016 mass shooting in Dallas, the sound of gunfire was critical to locating the shooter and limiting casualties. Once silencers are readily available to anyone, the effectiveness of gunshot detection systems that rely on sound, such as ShotSpotter, used by police in ~100 cities nationwide would diminish. These systems alert police to illegal gunfire, enabling officers to respond quickly to gun crime - even before a call is made.

Current U.S. law limits the danger posed by silencers without European-style regulations on guns. Proponents of this bill have cited Europe’s lack of regulation regarding silencers—yet European laws highly regulate guns, requiring most gun owners to be licensed and for their guns to be registered, ensuring that only the most responsible individuals can obtain firearms. This is not the case in the United States—and is thus an invalid comparison.

The claim that silencers protect hearing is bogus. If silencers truly enhanced the health of gun owners, they would have been issued to every member of law enforcement and member of the military—and they have not. The sole purpose to deregulate silencers is to increase the profits of the gun industry at the expense of public safety. Silencers are prohibitively expensive. Adequate ear protection muffs range from $25-$50.  Silencers cost $100-$2,500. Retrofitting the gun to take a silencer by a gunsmith will also cost a significant amount.  When you add in the $200 tax on silencers from the 1934 Firearms Act, this means that a silencer can be as much as a mortgage payment. Utah Representatives have cited the fact that one of the silencer manufacturers (SilencerCo) is here in Utah as their reason for supporting the legislation.

HR 367 Hearing Protection Act now has 159 co-sponsors, enough to pass the House –including all 4 of Utah’s Representatives (Chaffetz, Love, Bishop and Stewart). Please call your Representative and tell them you oppose any deregulation of silencers, including S 733 the Sportsmen’s Heritage And Recreation Enhancement (SHARE) Act.

Rep Bishop – (202)225- 0453 or (801) 625-0107   (UT-District 1)

Rep Love - (202) 225-3011 or (801) 996-8729      (UT-District 2)

Rep Stewart – (202) 225-9730 or (801) 364-5550    (UT-District 4)

S 59 Senate version of Hearing Protection Act has 18 co-sponsors including Utah’s Sen. Lee. Please call your Senators and tell them you oppose any deregulation of silencers. Let them know you won’t be fooled by burying the deregulation of Silencers in S 733, the SHARE Act!

Sen. Mike Lee - (801)524-5933 or (202) 224-5444

Sen. Orrin Hatch – (801)524-4380 or (801)375-7881 or (202)224-5251

If you are in District 3, (Chaffetz’ District) please call all the candidates and ask them where they stand on the deregulation of Silencers. Tell them you want a Representative who chooses public safety over the profits of the gun industry.

Candidates for (UT District 3 - Chaffetz’ District):

John Curtis (R) 801.852.6108 (Mayor’s Office Provo)

Dr. Kathie Allen (D) 801-413-7786

Jim Bennett (UU) 385.325.1620 (United Utah Party)