World Hearing Day Should Include Suppressors

Silencerco Specwar 762 Suppressor with classic SWR etching. Big and heavy but still works great.

March 3rd, 2021 is World Hearing Day. Started in 2015 by the World Health Organization (yes, the same one of the rona debacle fame!) to promote the cause of preventing hearing loss, the idea is to educate the public at large about preserving one’s hearing.

Of course, being an adjunct of the UN, which advocates civilian disarmament, there is zero acknowledgement from the World Health Organization of the risks to hearing that gun owners face even from recreational and training use of firearms. The documents don’t even mention guns, much less suppressors…

As Second Amendment Radicals and Regular Folk, we can change that…

Before we get into the advocacy of suppressor use, one should be armed with some basic facts about firearm suppressors.

We took a moment last year to debunk the myths surrounding suppressors/silencers, but in the context of World Hearing Day, it’s worth going over some basics again.

Suppressors Don’t Completely Silence A Firearm

Most likely, our first introduction to suppressors was via the Hollywood entertainment/propaganda complex. Some sneaky bad hombre creeps out of the darkness, pistol/silencer combo in hand, and takes out his hapless victim at bad breath distance from behind. Instead of a loud “bang”, his suppressed weapon makes a mere ‘pfft’ noise, no worse than a mouse farting, basically. Or, if the suppressor is in the hands of a good guy, it’s usually some government agent, out to dispense quiet justice to distant evil henchmen.

But anyway, the reality is far different from the cinematic depiction of course. Even if you’re not familiar with the way firearms work, one merely just has to think about what’s going on when a gun is in operations. There’s an explosion contained within the barrel and chamber of the gun, and the force (and noise) has to go somewhere. A suppressor captures the expanding gases and noise with a clever system of baffles and chambers. However, the projectile has to leave the gun somehow and there’s a hole for that on the front of the suppressor. In addition to the bullet whizzing out, there’s some hot gases and sound escaping. Your average gunshot out of a rifle clocks in at over 160 dB. A good suppressor will knock about 30 dB off of that value. Still very loud, and undeniably sounding like a gunshot. For reference, a loud concert or nightclub is at 120 dB. The noise of a gunshot out of a well-built suppressor is around 130 dB depending on caliber. You can get “Hollywood quiet” but you have to use subsonic small-caliber ammunition, usually of the .22LR variety.

At that point you’re just dealing with a hyped-up BB gun, though in terms of kinetic energy.

However, the difference in terms of hearing damage between 160+ dB and 130 dB is pretty significant. Anything above 130 dB can cause immediate hearing loss to the unprotected ear. With a suppressor knocking at least 30 db off of the noise of a gunshot, you’re going a very long way to safeguarding your hearing.

Brownells

The decibel levels of common noises and firearm calibers. Taxed from the American Suppressor Association.

Facts And Benefits About Suppressors

We live in a nation where the right to keep and bear arms is acknowledged in one of our founding documents. We have a rich and diverse firearms culture where the practical and responsible use of guns is encouraged and taught. Most of the innovations in the gun world come from American companies. The iconic AR-15 was developed here and is basically the go-to defensive firearm for citizens who embrace the ethos of freedom and self-reliance. The irony is that a device which would make all manner of handguns, rifles, and shotguns quieter and more appealing to the masses, is heavily restricted. We can get a firearm legally without much effort in most states, but god forbid we want to (legally) put a glorified muffler on it. Propaganda, hysteria, and the much-maligned National Firearms Act of 1934 have kept suppressors out of the hands of people who need them most for nearly a century. Nevermind the stifling of innovation.

Unfettered by meaningless regulations, suppressed weapons would have been the standard by now. Your average firearm would most likely be integrally-suppressed, which is to say the suppressor would be built into the gun - or at the least firearms would ship with a perfectly-matched detachable “can”.

The benefits can’t be overstated. In general, hearing loss is a big problem in our society, and it gets worse every day. The general din of urban and suburban life clocks in at 80-90 decibels, which can damage your hearing permanently with consistent exposure. You compensate by talking louder or turning up the volume on your media player or mobile device. The world just keeps getting louder and louder. Us gun owners have it really bad, since our very interests are the loudest of them all - even louder than your favorite metal band at full tilt.

Sure, one can argue that it’s also effective to just don a good pair of earmuffs or insert a disposable pair of earplugs - and it is, to be blunt. Disposable earplugs which knock off 33 dB from the noise are cheap and plentiful, and a good pair of electronic noise-canceling earmuffs designed for shooters won’t break the bank, either. However, both devices are susceptible to incorrect usage.

Disposable earplugs can fall out. A pair of earmuffs can slip or be pushed out of the way, especially when shouldering your AR-15 or AK-pattern rifle. Even your safety glasses can open the space just enough.

Just a little gap between your head and the muff can let in enough sound to be permanently damaging. I’ve had it happen to me. You bring that rifle up, acquire your target, press the trigger, then boom - and you know right at that instant you’ve got hearing loss, because it actually hurts. Your muffs moved a fraction of an inch, and it’s all over. Hearing damage, and over time, not-so-fun things like tinnitus. Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee….

That’s where a suppressor comes in. It’s rather difficult to incorrectly attach a suppressor. A good can will screw on and/or latch on with an attachment system such as Silencerco’s Active Spring Retention (ASR) system.

The suppressor, again, will reduce the volume of the blast by at least 30 decibels, even more if you are shooting subsonic ammunition such as certain varieties of 300 BLK or 45 ACP. Couple it up with some earplugs or sturdy earmuffs, and your training sessions become no more noisy than a day at the beach.

Also, on a less-mundane level, a suppressed firearm is a sound choice for defensive use. If the unthinkable happens and you are forced to deploy your firearm in a defensive situation, it’s most likely to be indoors in confined quarters. A gunshot from your GLOCK 19 in an enclosed space will sound like the Almighty himself just punched a hole in your eardrum. Not fun, and not tactically encouraging - remember, your inner ear is also partially responsible for your sense of balance. Deafened and wobbly puts you at a disadvantage.

A suppressed firearm, though still loud, is much more manageable from an auditory perspective as it were. Put a nice Silencerco Hybrid or Omega on the end of your firearm, and you’re ready to go, whether it’s at the range, or if the worst happens and you have to defend yourself with your weapon. Hearing safety should be standard for us gun owners, not an expensive option or a cheap and unreliable one.

Promote Suppressor/Silencer Use

Let’s be blunt, there’s no way in hell any major governmental entity or supranational body is going to recommend anything gun-related, much less suppressor use. In the eyes of the WHO, and most agencies and bureaucracies below that level, guns are for the King’s horses and the King’s men, with suppressors being relegated to the Praetorian types. Even in the rare nations where ironically the suppressor isn’t regulated, but the gun is, it’s problematic simply due to the process of acquiring a weapon. So, what do us sufficiently-motivated Second Amendment Radicals do?

Promote the hell out of suppressor and silencer use, of course.

Acquire A Suppressor

It’s kind of hard to talk about and promote the use of a suppressor if you don’t have one. Now, of course there’s states here in the US where the government outright prohibits suppressor use by citizens - even with the proper NFA paperwork, but in most cases, suppressors can be acquired, albeit with the cringe-worthy wait times, tax stamp costs, and registration requirements.

The requirements are moronic, idiotic, and a relic of a bygone era, but unfortunately the NFA is the card we’ve been dealt, and for now if you want to legally play in suppressor-land, it’s what you have to do. You can shave off the wait time significantly by manufacturing your own suppressor after getting an ATF Form 1 approved, but that’s real graduate-level stuff.

Bring Your Non-Gun Friends To The Range To Shoot Suppressed

Once you’ve got your shiny new suppressor and you’ve familiarized yourself with the safe use and maintenance of said can, you should probably take some of your non-gun, and even anti-gun friends to the range for some ballistic enjoyment. And if you have some weird Fudd friend who thinks the apex of firearms design is the Remington 700, bring that person too. Other than suppressing the noise and blast of a gunshot, the suppressor also increases accuracy and reduces the near-involuntary flinch of an inexperienced shooter. When they see the quantifiable results of a suppressed firearm, the enjoyment and satisfaction is evident.

With the distracting boom minimized, one can concentrate on the fundamentals of shooting more effectively. With a suppressor tacked onto the end of your AR-15 rifle or GLOCK pistol, you’ve made converting people to our cause that much easier. A quieter gun is a less-fearful gun. Of course, observe all the standard safety rules.

Join The American Suppressor Association

Personally promoting the virtues and benefits of suppressor use on World Hearing Day, and beyond does a lot. You’re showing people that the so-called “evil” silencer is really not much different than a car muffler - which is pretty evident since Hiram Percy Maxim developed both devices. But, there’s the aforementioned political and regulatory barriers.

Here in the United States, purchasing a suppressor is a process fraught with unneeded complications, if the process is legally allowed at all. As of 2021, 42 states permit the possession of suppressors by individual citizens, provided they are purchased in compliance with the National Firearms Act of 1934. Still that leaves 8 states which outright prohibit personal ownership of the devices.

General firearms-rights organizations such as the Firearms Policy Coalition, the Gun Owners Of America, and the National Rifle Association do fight the good fight for suppressors, but they also have their hands full fighting the continuing efforts of the opposition to limit our right to keep and bear arms as a whole. As they should - it’s pointless to have easy-to-acquire suppressors if we can’t legally own firearms to begin with.

That’s where more focused organizations come in, such as the American Suppressor Association. For just about 10 years now, the ASA has supported, fought, and helped win legislative victories across the nation, even getting suppressors legalized in some states. Sure, there’s been no federal deregulation as of yet, and with a hostile regime having major sway in government, it’s not likely to happen soon.

Regardless, it takes time and legwork, and ASA has been tirelessly pushing to normalize and deregulate the use and ownership of suppressors. Efforts like that require financing (duh) and the support of people like you and I. Membership is cheap - starting at $35 a year. You can layer it in with your support of the bigger national organizations, and of course your state-level groups like Florida Carry.

Click Here To Sign Up For The ASA

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Hearing Protection Is Important To Gun Owners

Enjoying firearms for recreation or hunting shouldn’t be an undue burden on health. Nor should one be concerned or have to suffer from hearing loss when exercising one’s Second Amendment rights in the ultimate and grave act of self-defense or resistance against authoritarian tyranny.

Coupled with earmuffs or earplugs, having a suppressed firearm ensures that us gun owners can continue to enjoy our ballistic passions for our entire life, without much detriment to our critical faculties such as hearing. And it’s never too late to start.

This World Hearing Day, remember that guns don’t have to be loud. Fight the noise.

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