If you were to look to Hollywood for information about how suppressors work then you will think that they make any gun whisper quiet and impossible to hear. However the reality is far from the case.
First ownership of suppressors is legal in almost every state for civilians and most of those states even allow them to be used for hunting.
A suppressor, at best will make a firearm hearing safe. This does not mean quite, in fact a firearm with a suppressor on it will still be quite loud with most suppressors. While there are some suppressors that can make it so that a firearm is rather quiet, even with no hearing protection, this does not mean that they are impossible to hear, nor make a “pfft” sound like most movie suppressors make. A suppressed gun is not impossible to hear, even in the next room. There are larger and more expensive suppressors that can drastically reduce the noise that a firearm makes, however, no suppressor is silent. This is why, I often refer to a suppressor as a “suppressor” and not a “silencer”. “Silencer” is just not a good description of what it does.
For hunters this is great, it allows them to take game without disturbing other wildlife. For home defense keeping muzzle flash and noise down so you are not blinding and defining yourself with the first shot allows you to better defend yourself from violent intruders. If you have ever shot a firearm in open space without hearing protection you will know what I mean. It’s loud and you go deaf for a bit after hearing a shot, even from a .22lr. The defining effect and shell shock is even worse when in a small enclosed space like a living room or hallway.
It seems like this fundamental misunderstanding of how suppressors work, stems from Hollywood misinformation and a lack of experience with them. This in turn creates this “fear” of them that I see from people who just don’t own or understand guns. More so than other firearms accessories or parts, it’s easy to make the case that a pistol grip will not make a gun any more or less dangerous. However, making the case that suppressors are not just the tools of assassins and action movie bad asses is a bit more difficult due to this influx of misinformation about suppressors.
This misunderstanding needs to be addressed. I am happy to see that there are concerted efforts to educate people about suppressors and removed them from the NFA list of items. The $200 tax stamp that is required for a suppressor on top of the $600 plus price tag puts these useful and courteous tools out of the reach of far too many people.
The good folks at Silencer Co. have started a petition to remove suppressors from the National Firearms Act and make them just like a firearm, no extra tax, just a standard background check. You can find out more about their #FightTheNoise campaign here.
At the end of the day the US is actually the most backwards country when it comes to suppressors. One of the world’s most firearms restrictive countries, the UK, does not put such restrictions on suppressors. In fact they see them as a courtesy to their neighbors.
Much like other gun related issues, it is only by educating people about suppressors that we will be able to remove this silly and outdated law. I find that many of those who call for firearms restrictions have little to no experience with guns and if they do it’s only been in negative circumstances. A firearm and a suppressor is no different from any other tool. It does not have any inherent morality or self control, any object can be dangerous in the wrong hands.
Shooting and shooting sports are a great national pastime that millions of Americans engage in every day and we need to educate people about guns. They are not the scary, instantly killing, things that people seem to think they are.
What are your thoughts on suppressors, Hollywood, and how they misinform people about firearms?