Monday, December 31, 2012

Sound Suppressors for Guns - Allow Them or Not?

A gruesome holiday season exercise: Think of some firearms and accessories that might have added to the body counts of Aurora and Newtown. More starkly, imagine the means by which coming Auroras and Newtowns will be made more deadly.

The exercise starts with a militarized baseline, as both shooters unloaded designed-for-damage rounds from high-capacity magazines loaded into assault rifles. Improving their killing efficiency would require one of two things: the ability to shoot more bullets faster, or more time. A fully automatic machine gun would provide the first. More minutes to hunt, meanwhile, might be gained by employing a noise suppressor, those metallic tubes better known as silencers. By muffling the noise generated with every shot by sonic booms and gas release, a silencer would provide a new degree of intimacy for public mass murder, delaying by crucial seconds or minutes the moment when someone calls the police after overhearing strange bangs coming from Theater 4 or Classroom D. The same qualities that make silencers the accessory of choice for targeted assassination offer advantages to the armed psychopath set on indiscriminate mass murder.
The article provides a fascinating history of suppressors. I'm now wondering if I have to abandon one of the only exceptions I've had about gun control laws I support. What do you think?

Please leave a comment.


  1. I may have more comments on the article when I have a chance to read it at lunch or tonight, but for starters, I would say that this article overstates the issue a bit.

    It's correct about the potential of muffled gunshots not being recognized in a separate theater, but this happens even without suppressors as we saw in Aurora, so there isn't much difference here.

    In a quiet context like a school, the repeated shots would make it obvious that something was amiss, as would the screams and other commotion there would be in such a horrifying situation.

    In determining what effect a suppressor might have on a mass shooting, it might be interesting to look at countries where they are unregulated to see if any psychos there even bothered to use them, and if so, what was the effect.

    As for the positive uses of them, most parts of the world don't regulate them, and some places require gun owners to use them to avoid annoying the neighbors around shooting ranges. They are also useful for promoting safety--they don't silence a gunshot like in the movies, but they do reduce the explosion to a level that is safe for your ears, reducing hearing loss, and making it easier to hear Range Safety Officers than if you're wearing earplugs or muffs, and surrounded by un-muffled gunfire.

  2. Again with banning components? You do know that they're already heavily regulated, right? If I were a control freak, I'd call for a change in the First Amendment to require those who speak to know what they're talking about. Reporters and guns don't mix.