Suppressed guns aren’t quiet, they’re merely “less loud”

Recent media hysteria about the Hearing Protection Act and suppressors in general has, as expected, brought up overt claims and slightly-more-subtle implications that suppressors reduce the sound of gunshots to Hollywood-esque levels, and that absent the loud sound of gunshots, criminals could commit their dastardly crimes without detection.

To make it painfully clear, this is unrealistic. Unsuppressed gunshots are extremely loud, and are capable of causing hearing damage immediately with only a single shot.A suppressed .308 Winchester rifle with subsonic ammunition

A suppressed .308 Winchester rifle with subsonic ammunition meters around 121-137 dB, the quietest of which is comparable in loudness to a typical siren on an emergency vehicle (~120dB). Sirens, as you no doubt are aware, are intended to be exceedingly loud and easy to locate. Other common sound sources that produce sounds with that level of intensity are chainsaws, rock concerts, rocket engines, jackhammers, and small firecrackers. All of which are both loud and easy to locate.

Suppressed guns firing low-power, subsonic CCI Standard Velocity .22 LR ammo meter between 117 to 128 dB.

In the US, OSHA considers 140 dB to be the safety cutoff for impulsive noise (like hammering, blasting, etc., in contrast to continuous noise). One could exceed OSHA standards and cause hearing damage by firing more than a single heavily-suppressed .308 Win round per 24 hour period. Thus, even though suppressor marketing departments advertise anything with <140 dB total sound as being “hearing safe”, and firing suppressed firearms is less dangerous to hearing than firing unsuppressed, it’s still slightly damaging to hearing to fire even suppressed shots with no additional hearing protection.

To summarize:

  • Firing unsuppressed firearms without hearing protection is immediately and permanently damaging to hearing.
  • Firing suppressed firearms without hearing protection is right at the threshold of being damaging to hearing, and it’s recommended to wearing additional hearing protection when shooting anything other than .22LR or other low-power cartridges.
  • To the shooter, the loudness of suppressed firearms without┬áthe shooter wearing hearing protection is comparable to the loudness of unsuppressed firearms as heard when wearing hearing protection.
  • Suppressed firearms are still extremely loud, and provide essentially no reduction in the ability of people to detect the presence of a shooter. There are essentially no benefits for a criminal to use a suppressor, other than potentially damaging their own hearing less.
  • Suppressors are a form of hearing protection for a shooter, just like ear muffs, and serve to reduce the sound intensity at the source, thus providing benefits to everyone within earshot.
  • Those opposing suppressor ownership are misinformed at best and dishonest at worst.
  • Suppressors are fun as all hell, and their use should be strongly encouraged.

Hunting with suppressors to be allowed in Louisiana

From guns.com comes this report that, effective August 1st, 2014, it will be legal to hunt game in Louisiana with suppressors, thus adding Louisiana to the list of 33 states where hunting with suppressors is legal.

Hunters in the Sportsman?s Paradise will be able to use legally-owned suppressors to both harvest game and control pests following Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal?s signing of House Bill 186 into law Friday.
HB186 strikes the state’s ban on using National Firearms Act-registered suppressors, commonly but incorrectly referred to as “silencers,” in hunting, and replaces it with language to allow widespread use by lawful sportsmen.
The popular bill had sailed through the state Legislature, passing the Senate unanimously on May 20 with little comment by lawmakers.
“This is about mitigating the noise and preventing hearing loss,” said Rep. Cameron Henry (R-Metairie), sponsor of the legislation.
The law will?allow any person who possesses an NFA-compliant and properly registered firearm suppressor to use the device to both harvest game animals as well as pests and nuisance wildlife such as beaver and nutria. However, in an apparent bid to void use by those with a history of poaching, it forbids the use of suppressed firearms by those who have been convicted of certain wildlife violations in the past five years.

As a suppressor owner and advocate, this is excellent news. I had no idea that so many states allowed hunting with suppressors.
I really should join the American Suppressor Association, as they and the NRA were instrumental in getting this bill passed.
Of course, not everyone was happy:

Only a handful of Louisiana House representatives voted against the suppressor bill when it passed through that chamber in an 82-15 vote in April. Those who did oppose it voiced concerns about the use of suppressors by criminals as well as the broad allowances to use the devices for virtually all game in the state.
“I don?t know why we need silencers to hunt birds,” said Rep. Austin Badon (D-New Orleans). “We don?t need this bill.”

For some reason, Americans are seemingly unique in the widespread belief that suppressors are tools of assassins, hit men, secret agents, and other stealthy types. In many countries, including those that are decidedly anti-gun like the UK, the use of suppressors is considered one of being polite and neighborly: just as it’s rude and disturbing to drive a car without a muffler, shooting unsuppressed firearms can be impolite in some circumstances.
Rep. Badon is off the mark: all shooters should be able to use suppressors if they wish, and their use should be encouraged. Not only does it help reduce hearing damage for the shooter, but it minimizes the irritation of those who may be disturbed by the sound of unsuppressed shooting. Win-win for everyone.

Rifle overboard!

What’s going on here?

Image from S.T.A. Training Group
Image from S.T.A. Training Group

Based on the Facebook comments people are speculating that the man works for a marine security company and is throwing this AR-pattern rifle overboard for one of two main reasons:

  1. The rifle is full-auto and was purchased outside the US (i.e. they don’t need to comply with the NFA hoops), and they’re returning to a US port and the gun would not be legal. It’s cheaper and easier to simply discard the rifle overboard and buy another one once they leave US waters than deal with the NFA.
  2. Essentially the same situation, only they’re docking in some other port where firearms are restricted regardless of if they’re full- or semi-auto.

Thoughts? Speculation? I suspect that #2 is a bit more likely.
(Apologies if this post shows up twice in your feed reader. There were some tech issues here.)

Google Question of the Day: Are Silencers/Suppressors Legal in Arizona

Every now and again, I look through my logs and occasionally find something interesting. This week, it’s a question that a lot of people have been asking: Are silencers/suppressors legal in Arizona?
Short answer: Yes.
Long answer: Arizona has no state-level laws that I am aware of regarding the ownership of NFA-regulated items like silencers/suppressors. So long as you obey Federal law in regards to the purchase, storage, and use of those items, you are free to buy, own, and use NFA-regulated items in Arizona as you see fit. Consult your friendly local Class III Federal Firearms Licensee (ask your local gun shop if they can point you in the right direction) for more details.
When I purchased my Gemtec Outback II .22LR suppressor a few years back, the process was relatively painless and only took about 30 days from start to finish, including approval by both the Pima County Sheriff and the ATF.

Arizona Silencer Laws

I’ve noticed a large increase in the number of visitors to my snarky Silencers are also Illegal?post that I made way back in 2008.
In the hopes of clarifying Arizona law as it relates to suppressors with less snark than that previous post, I direct readers to the Arizona Revised Statutes 13-3101?which state, in part:

A. In this chapter, unless the context otherwise requires:
[snip]
8. “Prohibited weapon”:
(a) Includes the following:
(i) An item that is a bomb, grenade, rocket having a propellant charge of more than four ounces or mine and that is explosive, incendiary or poison gas.
(ii) A device that is designed, made or adapted to muffle the report of a firearm.
(iii) A firearm that is capable of shooting more than one shot automatically, without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger.
(iv) A rifle with a barrel length of less than sixteen inches, or shotgun with a barrel length of less than eighteen inches, or any firearm that is made from a rifle or shotgun and that, as modified, has an overall length of less than twenty-six inches.
(v) An instrument, including a nunchaku, that consists of two or more sticks, clubs, bars or rods to be used as handles, connected by a rope, cord, wire or chain, in the design of a weapon used in connection with the practice of a system of self-defense.
(vi) A breakable container that contains a flammable liquid with a flash point of one hundred fifty degrees Fahrenheit or less and that has a wick or similar device capable of being ignited.
(vii) A chemical or combination of chemicals, compounds or materials, including dry ice, that is possessed or manufactured for the purpose of generating a gas to cause a mechanical failure, rupture or bursting or an explosion or detonation of the chemical or combination of chemicals, compounds or materials.
(viii) An improvised explosive device.
(ix) Any combination of parts or materials that is designed and intended for use in making or converting a device into an item set forth in item (i), (vi) or (viii) of this subdivision.
(b) Does not include:
(i) Any fireworks that are imported, distributed or used in compliance with state laws or local ordinances.
(ii) Any propellant, propellant actuated devices or propellant actuated industrial tools that are manufactured, imported or distributed for their intended purposes.
(iii) A device that is commercially manufactured primarily for the purpose of illumination.
B. The items set forth in subsection A, paragraph 8, subdivision (a), items (i), (ii), (iii) and (iv) of this section do not include any firearms or devices that are registered in the national firearms registry and transfer records of the United States treasury department or any firearm that has been classified as a curio or relic by the United States treasury department.

Emphasis mine.
In short, so long as one complies with the National Firearms Act of 1934?(the NFA)?and other relevant Federal laws NFA items, including suppressors, are not restricted or otherwise regulated by the state of Arizona. Simple.
If one doesn’t?comply with the NFA and other relevant Federal law relating to NFA weapons, then one is in violation of both Federal law and state law and in for a world of hurt. The ATF does not like it when people break the NFA, and penalties can include a felony conviction, 10 years in jail, and a $250,000 fine. Not fun.
When I got my suppressor a few years ago, my ATF Form 4 was processed and approved in about a month. Fees (not including the purchase price of the suppressor itself) were about $250 — the $200 NFA tax, about $10 for fingerprints, and the remainder as a tip to my dealer (who walked me through the process in detail, answered my numerous questions, and made sure I didn’t screw up). All in all, not bad.

Questions on Exporting Firearms

Anyone know where one might find information about the legality of exporting firearms for personal use to foreign countries? Specifically, I’m looking at studying overseas for several years, and it’d be nice to bring the guns along.
I’d imagine the Swiss are pretty open about such things so long as the proper procedures are followed. I suspect the other European countries aren’t quite so gun-friendly. Anyone know for sure?? Links to official regulations would be helpful.
To be specific, I have a few handguns (9mm, .45, and .22), a few rifles (M1 Garand, two AR-15s, and a 10-22), and a Mossberg pump-action shotgun.
I would imagine the US would want to know about such exporting as well.
Not sure how they’d treat NFA items, as I have a silencer for the .22s as well.
Advice would be most welcome.
Also relevant would be information on storing these firearms in the US with friends. The guns will not likely be a problem, but I know the ATF has various rules about storing NFA items in that one must store it in a manner inaccessible to the people who are storing it. I suspect that a safe deposit box might be workable, even though they technically don’t allow one to store firearms there.

Fun

It’s amazing how fun a suppressed .22 is.
While everyone around you is firing off fifty-cent-per-round .223 and .308 out of absurdly tricked-out ARs and M1As, shooting free (( Given to me as a gift from friends. Thanks Doug & Nathan! )) .22LR from a suppressed 10/22 (( The rifle, Trijicon red dot, and silencer probably cost less than a stock AR these days. )) is rather light on the wallet, not to mention an absurd amount of fun. Cheap, comfortable, quiet, and no recoil. What’s not to love?
I also fired a magazine through my 20″ AR today to make sure it was still holding zero since the last time I took it out (it was). It might be shooting a hair to the left, and I’ll have to check it the next time I go out. I’m thinking of scoping out my 20″ AR and suppressed 10/22 and moving the red dot from the 10/22 to the 16″ AR. Any thoughts on decent scopes for ARs? ACOGs are shiny, but spendy. I’d prefer something compact and rugged over longer and fragile, but so long as it’s rugged enough for regular use, I’m open to anything.
I need to get out to the range a bit more, and start pushing the range out. I haven’t shot further than 100 yards in some time and I miss it.

Crimes Committed With Machine Guns

The topic of machine guns used in crime came up in a conversation I had today. Specifically, the other person was saying that guns like the Glock 19 (( I had no idea why they included this common pistol as an example. )), the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon, and the G36 “enable these sorts of rampages” where “these sorts” evidently referred to the Ft. Hood and Florida shooting sprees.
I’m able to point out, from memory, the two cases since 1934 where a legally-owned machine gun was used in a crime. However, I’m not able to think of any noteworthy crimes committed with illegally-owned machine guns in recent history other than the North Hollywood shootout. Most references to machine guns used in crimes seem to relate to the prohibition era.
Anyone know of any more recent uses of machine guns, legally owned or not, in crime in the US?

Suppressor Ads

AAC is running billboard ads for suppressors. Very cool.
Personally, I think the restrictions on suppressors are silly: assassins are not going to bother jumping through all the hoops to get a legal suppressor, as they’re already going to be committing the more serious crime of murder and won’t worry about relatively minor firearms violation. Fortunately, assassins and movie-plot threats are essentially unheard of — I can’t recall a single incident of a criminal using a suppressor in the last few decades.
Suppressors have numerous perfectly legitimate purposes: reducing the risk of hearing damage, reducing noise pollution (particularly for ranges located near populated areas), reducing airborne lead, and making for a more pleasing and enjoyable shooting experience.
Suppressors are safety devices, and so should be removed from the NFA list and treated just like any other unregulated gun accessory.

The Stupid, It Burns!

I’ve posted a few videos on YouTube, including several of me demonstrating my Gem-Tech Outback II silencer on my Ruger 10/22 rifle.
Now, as you may be aware, YouTube commenters are widely known for being mind-numbingly stupid, and today was no exception. I had a commenter claim that in 45 out of 50 states, including his state of Mississippi, silencers on “sniper rifles” were illegal.
Specifically, he claims that silencers on “sniper rifles” are illegal unless one is in the “US Army Sniper School and it doesnt matter if you paid taxes and signed paper work, silencers on a sniper is illegal, other guns its different but snipers … its illegal”
Of course, he didn’t define what a “sniper rifle” was, nor did he give any sort of link to state laws that would suggest that silencers on such rifles would be illegal.
As far as I’m aware, he’s completely full of it, and silencers are legal on just about any firearm (with the payment of the appropriate NFA tax for the silencer itself) in states that do not prohibit silencer ownership. I’m not aware of any legal definition of a “sniper rifle” in any state or federal law, nor any law that would restrict the use of silencers to a specific subset of guns.
Anyone know for sure?