And now for a little peace and quiet!
It’s been a very loud last few months and I am sure many readers have found themselves in a similar position as I did recently, when a decades-long friendship devolved into a shouting match.
The subject? So-called silencers and, by extension, the inherent evilness of Donald Trump and his family.
Sometime in January a story appeared that had Donald Trump Jr. advocating for better laws governing suppressors, popularly, if erroneously, known is silencers.
My friend, already on edge about all things political, began to rail against the kind of over-privileged person who could take up the cause of such a bad, bad thing.
We have been friends a long time–since grammar school– and so over the many years we have made peace with the fact that we disagree on a lot of things, and we always will.
But, I may have rolled my eyes. And there may have been a comment about how I was rolling my eyes. And there was, in fact a little yelling before I mentioned (perhaps in a loudish voice) that she didn’t know what she was talking about. One of the reasons we are still friends, despite many differences, is that she is almost always willing to learn new things, even if it might be accompanied by a certain amount of “show me” truculence.
And, so I proceed to explain that while I was not an expert on them, and had never had the opportunity to use one, “silencers” were in fact, not silent and were more properly called “suppressors,” in that, unlike in the movies, they don’t silence the report of a gun, but rather suppress it.
I mentioned that they had been in use for at least a 100 years in modern form; that they were in fairly wide use for hunting, especially in Europe, and that they were heavily taxed under provisions of the National Firearms Act (NF.A) of 1934 (which most people associate with the regulation and taxation of true machine guns). I also said they were legal, under the NFA provisions, in most states, but not ours.
While I likely did not change her views on any of the other topics under “discussion” that day, I did succeed in educating her on suppressors, perhaps even interesting her in trying one out some day.
A few days later, The Washington Post carried an op-ed by Robert Spitzer, author of Guns Across America and a political science professor at SUNY Cortland.
“Gunfire-loud, sharp, rude, abrupt-is an important safety feature of any firearm. From potential victims who seek to escape a mass shooting to a hiker being alerted to the presence of a hunter in the woods, the sound warns bystanders of potentially lethal danger. Yet gun advocates insist there is a greater danger: hearing loss by gun owners,” Spitzer wrote
“The NRA is renewing with gusto its misbegotten push, begun in the last Congress, to make gun silencers easier to acquire by swiping a page from the public health community’s long-standing efforts to warn of the dangers of firearms. The Hearing Protection Act, which would remove federal registration and identification requirements for those seeking gun silencers, has received the blessing of President Trump’s son, Donald Jr., and the welcome of the gun-friendly 115th Congress. Even though silencer purchase are legal in all but eight states, advocates want to sweep aside background check and record-keeping requirements, such as photos and fingerprinting, first enacted as part of the National Firearms Act of 1934, a law passed to curb gangster weapons such as submachine guns and sawed-off shotguns” he continued.
Spitzer further argued, “Beyond the familiar political imperative to eviscerate any_ and all gun laws – so why not this one? – the goal is clearly to boost silencer (advocates prefer the term ‘suppressor’) sales, which have already become a gun industry boomlet. Further proliferation of silencers would also have the commercial benefit of boosting gun sales, because most existing guns do not have the threaded barrels necessary to attach them.”
It is interesting to note that Spitzer could have (and maybe did) write almost the same thing, substituting “assault weapons” for “silencers” 20 years ago.
The willful misunderstanding of how things work and the use of slangy, yet inaccurate terms, is pretty common in the anti-gun playbo0k. It has been successful in demonizing classes of firearms in the past. Gun owners, not immune to the charms of slang, have been complicit in some of this.
But it is incumbent on us to begin using proper terminology and to explain-even at top volume–how things really work.