Below is a link to a Washington Post article critical of the Hearing Protection Act (HPA) and the NRA’s efforts to introduce and pass it in Congress. A legitimate and articulable basis of the HPA is that unsuppressed gunfire damages hearing. Hearing, once lost, doesn’t heal and can only be restored with a hearing aid, in best case scenarios. As such, the American Suppressor Association (ASA) prominently lists hearing protection as a benefit to suppressor ownership. Additionally, there are federal regulations regarding hearing protection in the workplace, which bolster the position that repetitive trauma should be mitigated. The WP article seeks to dismiss concerns over hearing protection which suppressors generally resolve.
Instead, the article claims that, “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.”
Why is this important? It’s important because people who either know little about firearms/suppressors, people who are flatly opposed to them or people who only know what they hear from the Washington Post equate firearms with crime and negligence. The example given in the article is that firearm noise will save lives because the noise will mitigate the ill effects of criminals and the potentially criminally negligent. This point of view overlooks almost everything else, everything else defined as the millions of law-abiding gun owners who simply want to protect their health as well as the hundreds of millions of firearms are never used for any nefarious purpose.
It’s important to know the facts about what you advocate for. It’s been said that one of the greatest gifts you can offer is to explain things simply. Simply stated, Suppressors are rarely used in crimes. They’re widely available for hunters in Europe with little regulation, if any, for the suppressors themselves. Suppressors do lower decibel levels and protect hearing. Most importantly, suppressors aren’t like what you see in the movies, where only Mafiosos and assassins use them to further a dark plot. In reality, you’re much more likely to see someone at the range using a suppressor (which he/she paid for, filled out an ATF Form 4 in triplicate for, submitted fingerprints and passport photos for, gave notice to their local law enforcement department for and, ideally, has a trust set up in order to manage the suppressor and allow trustees and beneficiaries to access) who can enjoy shooting without having to yell to communicate, due to the ear protection.
Lastly, but not finally, while hearing protection is an issue worth fighting for with regard to suppressors, it’s not the only one. The National Firearms Act (NFA) is far from settled law and like all laws, subject to amendment. Some introspection now, albeit almost 100 years after the fact, would go a long way and yield additional arguments as to why suppressors should not be regulated or why the NFA should be amended, repealed, etc. In short, the argument over hearing loss is a worthy one. Know the facts and help however you can. But don’t limit your advocacy to that benefit of suppressor ownership alone. There are other arguments to be made whether, constitutional, utilitarian or otherwise. It’s important to know the why and to be able to explain it simply. This will go a long way in helping people understand the why.