A handful of proposed federal bills would make gun silencers more readily available. And they may overrule Illinois’ ban on the firearms accessory.
Gun suppressors have been heavily regulated since the Great Depression. They reduce the sound of a gunshot to levels that aren’t as damaging to a shooter’s hearing. That’s why U.S. Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, has introduced a bill that would deregulate them. There is also a companion bill in the Senate sponsored by Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah.
National Association of Gun Rights President Dudley Brown stresses suppressors are made to preserve hearing ability.
“It’s a broad freedom that is largely unpracticed in America except through incredible regulation,” he said. “We want to get rid of that.”
Brown said Hollywood has given the devices an unfair portrayal.
“You’ll still know that someone is shooting, but it won’t be as damaging to your eardrum,” he said.
Modern suppressors take a normal pistol’s 140 to 160 decibel report and reduce it to between 120 and 130 decibels.
In Illinois, they are banned outright. Brown was unsure if the new bill or its companion in the Senate would override that ban. A bill sponsored by state Rep. Brandon Phelps, D-Harrisburg, would have lifted the ban in Illinois but it never made it out of committee last year.
Gun control advocates say the deregulation of these bills would have deadly consequences.
“Silencers are military-bred accessories that make it easier for criminals to take innocent lives and threaten law enforcement,” said Violence Policy Center Legislative Director Kristen Rand.
One potential issue with lifting the ban on suppressors is that ShotSpotter, the gunfire-detecting devices that the City of Chicago has spent nearly $1 million on, may not be effective when a silencer is used. In a document on the company’s website, they say, “We have successfully, if not inadvertently, detected confirmed suppressed gunfire within our existing deployments” but also they are pursuing further testing.