After the June 14 shooting at a Congressional baseball practice in Alexandria, Virginia, the House of Representatives cancelled all business for the day, including that morning’s hearing on legislation to make it easier to buy silencers. That hearing will now be held tomorrow – but if you haven’t heard about it from the bill’s sponsors, that seems to be by design.
In an apparent effort to avoid unwanted scrutiny, sponsors of the silencers legislation chose early on to fold it into the much larger Sportsmen’s Heritage And Recreational Enhancement Act or SHARE Act. It’s easy to see why: The more voters learn about the silencers provision, the more they’ll find to oppose.
The proposal would gut longstanding safety laws designed to keep silencers out of the wrong hands. Specifically, it would remove silencers from the National Firearms Act, making it easy for convicted felons, domestic abusers and people with dangerous mental illnesses to buy silencers without passing a background check – simply by finding an unlicensed seller.
Current law treats silencers seriously for good reason. Silencers distort the sound of a gunshot, making it harder for people to identify gunfire and take cover or run away – and for law enforcement to locate a shooter. Many of the nation’s top law enforcement organizations oppose efforts to gut silencer safety laws.
While undermining public safety, the proposed legislation would open up a new market for high-priced gun accessories, with profits going directly to the gun companies. It’s a giveaway to silencers manufacturers and a favor to the National Rifle Association. Talking to shareholders last week, the CEO of a major gun manufacturer reportedly described the company’s recent acquisition of a silencer company as “somewhat opportunistic, allowing us to enter the suppressor category prior to the potential favorable changes in legislation and at a time when the market is particularly soft.”
Given all of this, it’s not surprising that the proposal’s sponsors have tried to keep it under the public radar. But it’s critical to illuminate their true objectives and the legislation’s potential consequences.
Tomorrow’s hearing will be held at 10 a.m. in Room 1334 of the Longworth House Office Building, by the Federal Lands subcommittee of the House Committee on Natural Resources. If you have any questions about silencers or this legislation, don’t hesitate to reach out.