WASHINGTON – Barely two weeks after the Alexandria shooting forced House Republicans to shelve a reckless proposal that would enable dangerous people to buy firearm silencers, two gun-lobby backed U.S. Senators are introducing an even more radical version of the legislation in the U.S. Senate.
The bill, introduced yesterday by Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Mike Crapo (R-ID), would strip all silencer provisions from the National Firearms Act (NFA), and the Gun Control Act (GCA) —laws that have been effective in keeping silencers out of criminal hands, while allowing law-abiding citizens to access silencers, for decades. The bill would end the federal requirement for background checks on firearm silencer sales, and make it legal for convicted felons, domestic abusers, and the dangerously mentally ill to buy and possess silencers. To the satisfaction of NRA headquarters, the legislation would profit gun manufacturers, who could mass market firearm silencers at the expense of public safety.
As Reps. Don Beyer (D-VA) and Val Demings (D-FL) have pointed out this week, on the day of the Alexandria shooting, gun lobby-backed members of the House Committee on Natural Resources had scheduled a hearing to quietly move forward similar legislation, which they had attached to an unrelated bill. But in the aftermath of the shooting, members of Congress who were there said that they were alerted to the location of the gunman by the distinctive sound of his gun. That sound would have been reduced by a silencer. And Republicans cancelled the hearing.
“Two weeks after the Alexandria shooting forced gun lobby-backed congressmen to shelve a proposal that would enable dangerous people to buy firearm silencers, two more-gun lobby-backed U.S. Senators are introducing an even more radical bill in the U.S. Senate — just as Congress jets out of town,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. “This dangerous legislation would strip away all federal silencer laws and make it legal under federal law for convicted felons and domestic abusers to buy silencers as easily as they could buy a cell phone or an iPad. For the gun lobby, this isn’t a hearing protection issue, it’s a profit protection issue. They want to sell firearm silencers to the masses, even at the expense of public safety. In the wrong hands, firearm silencers create new public safety risks. The loud and distinctive noise that a gun makes is one of its most important safety features: when people hear a gun shot, they know to run, hide, protect themselves or notify law enforcement.”
Silencers make it harder for our law enforcement to do their jobs and protect public safety. That’s why law enforcement officers and major law enforcement organizations have repeatedly opposed the rollback of silencer safety laws.
Police and first responders are expected to hear, locate, and react quickly to gunshots. In a live fire situation, the sound of gunshots gives police important information; silencers make it harder for police to respond. In addition, it’s often the sound of gunshots that prompts calls to 911. Without those calls, first responders can be delayed.
The National Firearms Act (NFA) requires buyers of silencers and other especially dangerous weapons to pass criminal background checks and comply with other common-sense safety provisions, and has been effective in keeping silencers out of criminal hands — while allowing law-abiding citizens to access silencers — for over 80 years.
The Gun Control Act (GCA), the bedrock of federal firearms law on who may have guns, prohibits convicted felons, domestic abusers, and the dangerously mentally ill from buying or possessing guns, among other common-sense public safety provisions. The Brady Bill, part of the GCA, requires licensed gun sellers to consult the national background check system before transferring a GCA firearm to any prospective buyer.