Welcome to Common Gunsense

I hope this blog will provoke some thoughtful reflection about the issue of guns and gun violence. I am passionate about the issue and would love to change some misperceptions and the culture of gun violence in America by sharing with readers words, photos, videos and clips from articles to promote common sense about gun issues. Many of you will agree with me- some will not. I am only one person but one among many who think it's time to do something about this national problem. The views expressed by me in this blog do not represent any group with which I am associated but are rather my own personal opinions and thoughts.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Must have gun silencers

One of my readers kindly sent me an article thinking I might want to post about it. I'm sure he was just thinking of me. How nice. Or more likely he wanted to get me to say something he could use in his own blog or pass it along to the other gun guys in the blogosphere who regularly blog about me. Thanks, guys, by the way, for giving me so much undeserved attention. Anyway, here is an article about which one might wonder if there is ANY common sense left. First of all, read the headline:" Texas continues to lead the way in gun silencer sales" Maybe in Texas, that is considered to be something about 
which to brag. I don't know about you, but what do gun silencers conjure up in your mind? I am thinking Al Capone or The Godfather or The Sopranos.

Folks in the state of Texas are all hot about buying gun silencers. Why? Here are a few of the reasons given, from the article: ""People are afraid the federal government will put tighter restrictions on the suppressors, much like they did the machine guns," Irwin said. "I think the sales on the suppressors are going to go up as long as there's a Democrat in the White House.""; or this: " Some people take their silencers to shooting ranges. Others might take them to "machine gun shoots," where gun lovers gather to fire at targets. Still more might keep a silencer on their handgun or rifle at home to help with "varmint" control -- shooting coyotes, skunks or snakes.
"The only use I can think of for a silencer is if you are hunting hogs and have 15 to 20 hogs at a feeder," said Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, a former state senator who shepherded conceal-carry legislation in 1995. "That's a practical use if you want to shoot one without scaring others off."Or maybe if you're getting rid of squirrels in your back yard," said Patterson, who always carries a gun but does not have a silencer."; or finally, this one: ""Ninety percent of the people who buy them just think they are so cool," Irwin said. "This is Texas.""

So, if I decided to shoot a squirrel in my yard using a silencer on my gun so no one would hear the gun shot, where does the bullet go if I miss the squirrel or even if it happens to go through the squirrel's body and comes out somewhere else? I live close enough to a school that I shudder to think where a bullet might end up. On the other sides of my house live families with small children. But hey, if I really need to get rid of that squirrel that is bothering my bird feeder, maybe I should take some other measures, which I have. My bird feeder is fairly squirrel proof now and this cost me a bit of money.

I actually learned a lot by reading this entry about silencers or suppressors from Wikepedia. Some countries do allow the unregulated sales of such devices- Finland for one. Of course, gun laws are quite different in those countries and they are mostly sold as protection for hearing while hunting. This I can understand. In my training to become a Speech Therapist, I learned a lot about the causes for hearing loss. One was the use of guns fired close to the ear. My husband, in fact, has a high decible hearing loss in his right ear from just that. But in the U.S., since we have gun laws allowing so many people to own handguns, the silencer becomes a bit of a different thing. Maybe my mind is warped by the gangster T.V. shows and movies. 

The thing is, many who have commented on my posts object to waiting periods, or the inconvenience of a background check or the cost of guns and permits being too expensive for some people who may not be able to afford a gun for self defense. And here we have an article about a totally unnecessary feature for a gun that costs money for the gun and the permit, causes a long waiting time to be approved and requires very extensive background information. I didn't see any objections to any of that in this article. It makes me wonder if there is hypocrisy among the gun rights folks. I'm just saying.....    

In the end, I agree with Marsha McCartney, a volunteer with the Texas Brady Campaign Chapters, and a friend: ""It would only be a concern if they were buying them because they are doing something illegal," she said." Well said, Marsha. I need a better explanation than those given about why anyone NEEDS a silencer. To me, it just doesn't make common sense.


  1. Sometimes when I copy and paste from an article and then try to get the type all the same and the same size, some of the sentences and letters come out in a different way than the others. Sorry for the inconvenience. It is a function of the blog and editing capabilities. This one was worse than most. I can usually get it to come out looking all the same. I worked for quite a while to get this to look better. Apologies for the look of this post.

  2. The main reason is because firearms are quite loud, and it would be a tremendous benefit to the shooting community it the means to make them less so weren't so heavily restricted. Noise is the number one complain from neighbors who live close to firing ranges. The club I'm an officer with is in the middle of an industrial area with a lot of noise, some of which is louder than gun fire. But we still occasionally get noise complaints, and have wrestled with whether to restrict shooting hours.

    If suppressors were commonly available, requiring suppressor use during certain hours would be a feasible solution, but as it is, we can't require members to buy something so expensive, and difficult to purchase.

    Keep in mind that they are suppressors. They are only silencers in movies. Most bullets travel beyond the speed of sound, and suppressors only dampen the muzzle report. You still get a loud crack from the sonic boom the bullet makes when it exceeds the sound barrier. Some bullets travel below the speed of sound, and for these, you get closer to silence, but the report is still audible. A .22LR, suppressed, fired in an enclosed space, would still be loud enough to be annoying if you wanted peace and quiet. It just wouldn't be deafening.

  3. In your editing tool bar, there should be a tab for cut/copy & paste functions, which basically takes the original text, and conforms it to your layout.

    That being said, why bother with silencers when a pillow is just as good?

  4. Yes, thank you for the good advice. I am having a little trouble with that tool bar but will check into it. Very funny about the pillow!

  5. If I remove the muffler from my motorcycle, I have to pay a $200 fine. If I want to put a muffler on my gun, I have to pay a $200 fine. If I decide to make my own gun muffler without paying the $200 fine, I go to prison. Nothing about that makes sense, let alone commonsense.

    Both gun fire and open motorcycle exhausts cause hearing damage. The scientific data is out there. Therefore using a muffler/suppressor is commonsense.

    Therefore it's downright criminal for the government to punitively tax or prohibit a device that protects ones hearing health.

  6. There must be good reasons for the permitting for the devices. I know you probably think it is arbitrary but I doubt that it is.

  7. There is a reason that suppressors (the proper term for silencers) are included in the National Firearms Act. At the time of the writing of NFA'34, they were in the depression. There were people that were concerned about people poaching, and they felt that suppressors would make it easier.

    Suppressors were a relatively new idea at the time, and there was no criminal use that would make them want to ban them the way they were so keen to ban machine guns. You know how Congress works. Once you get a bill moving, you toss everything on it you can.

  8. @Sean, it's like Otto Von Bismarck said, people with weak stomachs shouldn't watch sausage or legislation being made.

    I personally wish that suppressors weren't prohibited devices here in Canada, because it would be nicer to take people out shooting for the first time with a suppressed rifle so that they weren't so freaked out by the noise of what they're shooting.

  9. japete, the only reason people fear suppressors is because of movies. There is no other reason. They don't fire rounds. They don't do ANYTHING. The reduce recoil on a rifle allowing for easier control, the reduce the elevated lift when firing the rifle, they increase accuracy by a slight margin by effectively increasing the length of the barrel, and they help protect hearing during the sport. There is no negative aspect of it except that 'criminals might use it'. There is NO gun accessory or any accessory of ANY kind that a criminal might use.

  10. Surprisingly enough, suppressors are legal with few restrictions in some European countries. I remember going into a sporting goods store in Belgium back in the early 1990s and seeing them on the store shelves! I'm sorry I didn't take a picture of that.

    The usual reason given for them being legal is the same as is given here to reduce the noise for target practice and vermin shooting.

    But to be useful, you need both a firearm and suppressor.

    To be quite honest, as has been pointed out, they reduce the noise made by a firearm, but not enough so that it makes that much sense to want to own one.

    In fact, I think the reason people want machineguns, suppressors, handguns, and so on is because they believe they have "the right" to own one.

  11. FYI, a suppressor for sale in the UK



    As you know, UK firearms laws are considered "draconian", yet these are sold without restriction! Although, Firearms Certificate holders need to enter on their FAC that they use a suppressor.

  12. Yes, I found that out, Laci, while looking up the laws for the silencers or suppressors. I actually think the main reason for owning one is what you said- because it is considered a right. The other reason is the one stated in the article- because it's cool. Whatever.

  13. I have a specific reason I want a suppressor. I would like to mount a suppressor on a rifle for home defense. Currently I have a pistol for home defense. Since I have a dog, I'm not sure a shotgun would work for me. I'm of the opinion that there is no reason I should have to permanently damage my hearing just to stop a home invader. I think we all agree that legitimate self defense within the home is ok, you've said so before. It'd be nice not to be deaf afterwards.

    I want to use an AR pattern rifle for my home defense. And no, I don't live in a place populated by tigers. In my military days we trained with AR pattern rifles and I am comfortable with them. Also, many police agencies have switched to ARs because the standard .223 bullet is less likely to be dangerous after penetrating walls than the heavier pistol bullets. The problem you run into is that when you add the length of a suppressor to the rifle, it gets pretty unwieldy in a hallway. Federal law requires rifles to have a barrel length of at least 16 inches. The only alternative is to get a "short barrelled rifle" which is treated under law about the same as a machine gun. This means another $200 tax for the rifle. That is a total of $400 taxes to the government just so I can keep my hearing. I find that pretty irritating. I think that the government should treat all guns exactly the same. Unfortunately, the government says that if you put a rifle stock on a pistol, you are committing a federal felony. Doe it make any sense to put a person in jail for making a pistol more accurate?

  14. I don't know about all of that, Sean. I would also like to offer up the idea that using ear plugs which I have seen used at gun shooting ranges would protect your ears from damage as well. The other solution is not to do so much shooting but I know that won't fly since that is what you guys like to do. I know, I know, it would be like telling me to quit exercising because it could be harmful to my joints, etc.

  15. Joan,

    Did you not catch the fact that he wants a suppressor for home defense?

    The only time he would use it in that mode would be if someone has broken in.

    Do you think that is a good time to have his hearing reduced with ear plugs?

  16. "Did you not catch the fact that he wants a suppressor for home defense?"

    be nice.

    "I would also like to offer up the idea that using ear plugs which I have seen used at gun shooting ranges would protect your ears from damage as well."

    I have a reasonably nice set of electronic ear muffs that I have close to the pistol. If I have time, I'll slap them on. I agree that proper hearing protection should always be worn. I am only concerned with the time issue. If I have no time, it's grab the gun and shoot. If I have a little time, earmuffsm, 911, and maybe even pants! If I have a lot of time, the cops will show up and take care of the guy for me. Life can be a trade-off like that. My job isn't to actually shoot the intruder, just to keep myself and my family alive until the police come round to offer the intruder a lift to the iron-bar motel. Like I said earlier, It'd be nice not to have to deafen myself in the process.

    "I know, it would be like telling me to quit exercising because it could be harmful to my joints, etc"

    We'd never tell you that, Joan. We will assume that you will take appropriate precautions to prevent injury.

  17. I'm still trying to wrap my head around the fact that your gun used for protection in your home would make such a loud noise that you would worry about your hearing. In addition to which, you have a dog that could warn you of an intruder. I have a friend who became deaf when, as a young child, her Dad, who was very into guns, let her shoot some sort of quite powerful assault type rifle without the ear muffs on. She shot it off so close to her head that she lost her hearing. She has been, for all practical purposes, deaf but has a little residual hearing. She requires an interpreter most of the time.

  18. "I'm still trying to wrap my head around the fact that your gun used for protection in your home would make such a loud noise that you would worry about your hearing"

    I understand that. You have never had to think about this particular thing, so it never occurred to you. I'm only now getting old enough that I might be concerned with my joints getting hurt during exercise.

    The thing is, when you choose an action, you choose the consequences of that action. I have chosen to add a firearm to my layer of defenses. I am now responsible for all the consequences of that choice, including bullets penetrating walls and endangering my neighbors and noise injuries. I have chosen to take the risk to my hearing on the basis that deaf is better than dead. I'd rather not be deaf, but I can learn sign language. I can't recover from dead.

    The dog wasn't intended as a home defense, she's just a pet, but she's 70 lbs and has demonstrated that she will meet unwanted visitors at the door with the biggest bow-wow you can imagine. Were I a criminal, I'd go away after hearing her bark at me.

    "I have a friend who became deaf when... let her shoot some sort of quite powerful assault type rifle without the ear muffs on."

    Rifles are incredibly loud. The police and military pretty much assume that if you shoot one indoors without hearing protection you will be deaf. I feel for your friend. Her father was foolish. It's sad that she paid such a high price for his lack of sense. I'd go deaf without a second thought if the alternative was my life or my wife's life, but like I said, it'd be nice not to have to make that choice.

  19. As someone with some hearing loss (from working long hours in a noisy environment), I double up on hearing protection at the range, with both earplugs and "earmuffs."

    In a home-defense situation, that is not an option. I'll be grabbing eyeglasses first, then a gun; and Joan, any gun without a suppressor is loud enough to add to cumulative hearing loss.

    Suppressors are not all that useful to criminals compared to cheap field expedients like a pillow and even those are mostly the stuff of movies and TV programs. Since they generally double the length of a handgun, they're not popular with anyone wanting to conceal a firearm. But they'd make a darned big difference at the shooting range.

    Because they are tightly restricted by Federal in the States, they've picked up an aura of forbidden fruit -- and a price tag all out of proportion to what they cost to make. The men who made those laws and those who defend them helped deafen your friend. Does that seem especially wise or good to you?

  20. Joan, do you have any clue how hard it is to buy a silencer? Which by the way does NOT silence a report, only muffles it.

    It is an additional 200 dollar tax, AOW paperwork, and extra background check, with usually 6 week to 6 months to wait for approval from the ATF to take possession of the property you've already bought. But since it is an AOW you can't sell it to anyone else without going through the same process with them.

    So that "silencer" sales are up in Texas means that law abiding citizens with enough disposable income are exercising their rights. It means nothing more.

    For what it's worth, you can pay the 200 dollar tax and fill out the paperwork then build your own suppressor, which is pretty reasonable if you have access to a metal lathe of some sort.

    However I would rather see AOW's stop using the bulky forms that do nothing a NICS check doesn't do, it is a waste of manpower and taxpayer dollars. By simply leaving the 200 dollar tax on the item and treating it as any other firearm sale it would be much more convenient to the bulk of law abiding citizens. Remember that it is a crime to sell a suppressor to someone without doing the paperwork, there is no "loophole" here.

  21. Joan, Would you please ask your friend Marsha McCartney a question for us. There are several of us having a discussion about her words and there is a disagreement as to what she meant. Was is

    1. The only reason to buy a silencer is to do something illegal


    2. The only reason we would have a problem with a person owning a silencer is if they were going to use the silencer to do something illegal.

    I think she (and you) said the second thing.

  22. "There is no negative aspect of it except that 'criminals might use it'. There is NO gun accessory or any accessory of ANY kind that a criminal might use."

    I don't even think there is is a "might". If criminals wanted to use suppressors, they would use them. Considering how easy a suppressor is to make, if there was a criminal demand for them, the streets would be flooded with black market suppressors.

  23. Now that the health care bill passed I would Love to see the "firearm noise suppression bill" Passed that repeals the tax on suppressors for the good of the people kind of like seat belt laws but in reverse.

  24. Sean, here is an answer from Marsha,

    "The reporter called and said she was doing a story on texas leading the way on purchasing silencers - she said "why do you think people are buying them?" and I said "I had no idea why people purchase silencers" - I went on to tell her I didn't really see a "story" here - she explained to me that some people bought them as collector items and others because they were "cool" - after about 20 min. she asked me if I had any concerns about people buying silencers and I said I had no concern or response to the fact they are buying - and that there would only be a concern if they were buying them because they are doing something illegal" - and that's the quote she used."

  25. That's pretty much what I thought she was saying. Thanks for asking her.

  26. I'm always a little leary of anything the gun crowd is pushing since they've proven to be completely close-minded and unscrupulous in their arguing for things they consider to be "rights."

    But about gun suppressors, I don't know if it's really a big deal. I do wonder if what Roberta X said is right, that they're not all that useful to criminals. Wouldn't sound suppression be very useful to criminals? I would think it would make detection that much more difficult. Wouldn't the guy who's about to shoot his wife want to whack on the old silencer so the neighbors don't hear. Same with the liquor store holdup or gang shooting.

    Yet, I find the noise suppression of legitimate gun use a compelling argument. Whether it's convincing, I don't know.

  27. "Wouldn't the guy who's about to shoot his wife want to whack on the old silencer so the neighbors don't hear. Same with the liquor store holdup or gang shooting."

    You mean all the gun laws on the books didn't stop him? We obviously need more then.

  28. Thought if people just gave the criminals what they wanted, people wouldn't get hurt MikeB302000.

    Now are you telling us that criminals who walk into a store wearing hoodies or masks, carrying firearms are going to stick a 6 to 12 inch extension on their firearms -- because they don't want to reduce their chances of being detected?

    How is that commonsense?

    Let's see, take 7 inch firearm -- add another 7 inches to it.

    Is it going to be harder or easier to conceal it?

  29. mikeb302000 said: "Wouldn't the guy who's about to shoot his wife want to whack on the old silencer so the neighbors don't hear. Same with the liquor store holdup or gang shooting."

    Not really. I would imagine that if they had the forethought and planning to do that, they would find a way to do so that didn't involve the other side effects of shooting someone. Besides, thousands of people own suppressors/silencers already and as far as I know there haven't been any used in such a way. If there have been, it has to be exceedingly rare.

    As to using it for more traditional criminal enterprises, I can see your point as to how it _might_ be useful. However, again as far as I know it's never happened and it certainly isn't the NFA that prevents such use. They aren't complicated to make and as another poster pointed out, if they were that useful for criminal enterprises there would already be a significant black market for them. There aren't many, if any, reports of such use so therefore there doesn't appear to be such a market.

    Due to the size and weight of suppressors/silencers, they really are only useful for the legitimate goal of not going deaf during a home defense or range scenario. Plus, wearing ear muffs or ear plugs can be such a pain and in some cases harmful. To wit, when you're defending the house and need to be able to hear what's going on. Electronic muffs can do that, but would only do you some good if you have time to get them on.

    I admit, I once did a stupid thing while at a friend's private range and fired my AR15 without any hearing protection. As I couldn't afford a suppressor at the time I wanted to have some idea what I would be in for if, god forbid, I ever had to use mine for real. It was outside and was still loud enough to leave my ears ringing for a good bit. I can't even imagine how loud it would be inside. Say down the main hallway of my house, two walls close by to concentrate the sound. Yikes...

  30. Japette @ 11:38am:

    It's a drag to loose your hearing due to load noises, I currently suffer from tinnitus do to too much loud music events without ear protection. Regardless of where you stand on the gun issue, protect your ears folks.

  31. Joan,
    I came across this old post because it was highlighted in the sidebar. I haven't read all of the comment string because I don't really care what others have said.

    I just wanted to request that you try to find an opportunity to witness suppressed weapons, firing standard ammunition, in person. I suggest this because I was shocked the first time I heard a .45 acp being fired with a supressor. .45 is one of the quiter rounds that is easier to suppress (because the bullet doesn't cause a sonic boom).

    I will admit that some .22's with advanced and expensive suppressors can be as quiet as movie guns, but most criminals prefer bigger guns, none of which are nearly so quiet.

    I used to think that regulating suppressors was pretty reasonable until I actually heard them used and realized just how loud they leave the gunshot. Now, the regulation seem well intentioned, but pretty pointless. You may not agree with my conclusion, but if you seek out this experience, you will understand why so many of us see the benefits of hearing protection as outweighing the dangers of marginally quieter criminals.