Yes, before I get any farther into this discussion silencers – A.K.A. suppressors – are perfectly legal … if you live in a state with reasonable gun rights!
As of 2014 these states allow the purchase and use of a suppressor: AL, AR, AK, AZ, CO, CT, FL, GA, ID, IN, KS, KY, LA, ME, MD, MI, MO, MS, MT, ND, NE, NV, NH, NM, NC, OH, OK, OR, PA, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, WA, WI, WV, and WY. However there may be some ‘regions’ inside those states where it may not be legal – or have placed extra regulations – to own a suppressor.
If you aren’t familiar with suppressors lets have a quick fact check before we get into the nuts and bolts of getting your hands on one.
- The term “silencer” is actually a misnomer according to firearm experts. The best term is suppressor when describing this auxiliary device.
- A suppressor only suppresses the sound coming out of the end of the barrell. As far as my research has shown you can’t ‘silence’ a gunshot but you can significantly reduce the decibels. Even with a suppressor you’re probably going to be heard.
- A suppressor does not make a gun more ‘deadly’. Unlike in the movies … screwing on a suppressor won’t turn you into a deadly secret agent assasin with a gun that no one can hear.
- A suppressor is much like the muffler in your car. It gives the highly compressed gasses a place to expand at a reduce rate of expansion before exiting the system. Much of the noise from the explosion in your gun – and your car’s engine – is the gasses rapidly expanding after ignition.
- A suppressor only reduces the noise exiting the end of the barrel. There are still many other noises associated with firing a gun that hollywood doesn’t show you. The mechanical parts of the gun, especially on semiautomatics are quite loud themselves. A Sterling sub machine gun produces around 115 decibels from it’s mechanical action alone! Hearing loss can occur as low as 85 decibels.
Why would you even want a suppressor?
When it comes to suppressors for serious shooters it’s much more than just a ‘cool factor’.
Suppressors lower decibels, and firearms are easily loud enough to cause permanent hearing damage even with only short-term exposure to the noise. A suppressor protects the firearm user’s ears and those that shoot with them. Many suppressor allow the gun to be fired without hearing protection in an ’emergency situation’. Even with a suppressor hearing protection is highly recommended.
Hunters could take advantage of suppressors not in order to kill more game … remember they don’t make you’re shooting more accurate or you more deadly. But to actually positively impact the environment in which they’re hunting less with less noise. This will make the animals happier … and possibly the neighbors. A suppressor can however reduce felt recoil and in turn make the shooter more accurate. This happens only because the shooter learns not make errors associated with recoil anticipation.
Less noise will reduce noise pollution. Firing ranges could be so much quieter and likely much safer if the firearms being used were taking advantage of suppressors. Commands to ‘cease fire’ could easily be heard and there would be less confusion on the range.
If you’re a gun enthusiast then you’re probably thinking … “heck ya suppressors for everyone!”.
But some people think silencers are EVIL!!!
You see there are many, many people in this world that believe the myths portrayed by Hollywood and activists suffering from hoplophobia – a term coined for the unfounded fear of weapons or guns.
Let’s look at a couple of excerpts from a Salon dot com article on the evil of suppressors …
“The NRA firmly believes that American freedom is best served by giving 9mm gunfire the feel and sound of a toy cap gun.”
“If the current campaign succeeds in delisting silencers from NFA regulation, the gun lobby likely won’t wait long before targeting the remaining regulatory regimes limiting the circulation of fully automatic machine guns and even hand grenades. Do not be surprised when you see a 2014 Gun World feature extolling freshwater blast fishing as a great way to connect kids and nature, while reducing the risks of fishing with sharp steel hooks, some of which have dangerous double jags.”
That’s all of that you’re getting and about all I can stomach.
As you see there are very polar opposites to the silencer/suppressor debate. One side claims that a suppressor will turn every day Joe into a stealth indiscriminate killer all to help the ‘gun lobby’ make more money. The other side is comprised of 99.999999% law-abiding citizens who support the 2nd amendment and want to enjoy their shooting hobby.
In the aforementioned article the writer claims – and I paraphrase – ‘What if Adam Lanza had a suppressor’ … “he could have killed many, many more children if he’d had a silencer” … I find this statement totally suspect. His claim is that the gunshots wouldn’t be heard as easily and people wouldn’t know to notify the police. I’m sure there is a cell phone in every classroom dialing 911 because you’re still going to hear the gunshots rooms and rooms away.
In this case – and all other shootings – the killer is responsible for how many people they kill. Not the weapon. If a killer is set on killing a large number of people they’ll make a plan to do just that regardless of having a suppressor, assault rifle, or pipe bomb. A killer will always find a tool to carry out their desired destruction. Want to kill hundreds … build a giant Timothy McVay bomb and set it near a building in a rental truck. You can’t reasonably blame the rental truck for concealing the bomb in that case right?
Do suppressors actually have a downside …
There are some downsides to legalization of suppressors and their personal ownership. They aren’t deal breakers for me, but I’ll let you make up your own mind.
- It’s another part on your gun to clean.
- A suppressor makes your gun longer. Harder to maneuver and or conceal.
- In the woods it can make poachers harder to detect.
- They’re expensive and you have to register the device with the feds. Often costing you more than the firearm itself
Once you’ve decided that you’d like to buy a suppressor my best recommendation for purchasing one is to visit a local to you gun store that carries and is familiar with suppressor ownership and sales. You may find a better deal online but doing it in person can make the buying process easier, let the pros guide you.
There are three types of ownership for a suppressor.
- Registering the suppressor to a trust. This is a good option if you want to share the suppressor with family of friends. But anyone in possession of it must be a member of the trust.
- Registering the device to a corporation. This option is best for those with an existing corporation which plan on purchasing multiple NFA items over time.
- Registering the device to an individual. With this option the individual may be the only one in possession of the device. Others may use it but only when in the company of the registered owner. This is the option most individuals will choose.
The Cost and Bureaucracy
So now you’re ready to buy a suppressor. Well there are forms to fill out of course!
You have to send in the application, get it signed off by a Chief LEO, get fingerprint cards, pay fees for this and that. The stamp is $200 alone plus fees for the fingerprint card, filing fees, and LEO sign-off fee.
Plus as mentioned earlier the purchase price of a suppressor can be extravagant. They aren’t cheap by any means. There are some affordable options on the market but I’m not about to recommend any specific brand.
Someday I plan on purchasing a suppressor through legal means. But for now I’m happy without the government having me in the NFA firearms database.
What do you think of suppressors? Useful tool or silent killer? Let us know how you feel!!!
Farther suppressor resources
Oil filter suppressors! Cheap and effective but still need proper registration to be legal … http://www.2acheck.com/oil-filter-suppressor/
Silencer Shop: How to buy a silencer. http://www.silencershop.com/support/how-to-buy-a-silencer/
Selecting and Purchasing Silencers. http://www.thetruthaboutguns.com/2012/07/jim-barrett/selecting-purchasing-silencers/