Q: Why do farts smell? A: For the benefit of those who don’t hear them. I guess I’m stretching my self-imposed PG rating for articles with that elementary school version of a dirty joke, but it was the first thing I thought of when I read the reports that Donald Trump, Jr. had become the new champion of the movement to enact legislation making it much easier to get silencers for guns. Let’s explore.
The Hearing Protection Act was introduced in the last Congress but failed to make it to the floor. With the President’s son greasing the skids 2017 could be a much different story. Currently silencers – or suppressors as the armament industry prefers to call them – are expensive and entail about a nine month waiting period to obtain. The Act, supposedly in the interest of protecting the hearing of shooters, would streamline the process removing restrictions and red tape. It is reasonable to assume the cost would drop precipitously in that process. Furthermore it is reasonable to believe that silencers would soon find their way into the black market of the streets. Then, not only would it be easy for bad guys to obtain unregistered and untraceable guns but they could put silencers on the end of them for just a few bucks more and no questions asked.
My regular readers know I’m not anti-gun. The Second Amendment is part of our Constitution and culture. Many foreign readers can’t understand America’s seeming obsession with guns but it is simply part of who we are. However, I am among the majority of Americans who feel the need for some gun regulations to protect public safety.
In the case of large capacity clips, (which I also oppose), the question I ask of advocates is: Why do you need a large capacity clip? The best answer I have heard is: So shooters at a gun range don’t have to reload as often. In a simple cost/benefit, risk/reward decision I have to reject that argument.
In a similar vein the best argument for silencers seems to be to protect the shooter’s hearing and to not interrupt conversations at shooting ranges. If you are hunting and shooting one or two shots I think you’ll be fine without a silencer. (My late Uncle Chester was the hunter in the family and he usually went hunting with two rounds. He laughed at the guys who wore two ammunition belts and had more rounds in the car’s trunk.) If you want to hold a conversation I suggest that you find someplace more conducive than the firing line of a shooting range.
To date not many mass shootings or other crimes have entailed the use of silencers. I take that as proof that the regulations are having their desired effect and protecting the population. It reminds me of Justice Ginsberg’s line about an umbrella and a rainstorm.
Think of a mass shooting situation. One of the few things that save many lives is that with the first shot the shooter reveals themself and gives warning to the innocent. If you were in a place and heard gunshots your first thoughts would be to flee or take cover. Either of those actions increases your chance of survival.
Now let’s envision the same scenario and the gunfire is suppressed. You would not be alarmed and might actually go looking to see the source of the noise; straight into the danger. In another possible reaction you might not hear the shot at all. Your first awareness of the danger would be when a bullet entered your body.
I don’t know that it is fair to compare this legislation to flatulence but it certainly is a joke to think the Act would protect American society.
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