The San Francisco Chronicle reports that House Republicans are believed to now have enough votes to roll back nearly 80 years of federal regulations on firearm suppressors—commonly referred to as silencers. A vote on the measure, which was originally called the Hearing Protection Act of 2017 and has now been folded into a larger bill called the Sportsmen Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act, could come as early as this week.
The proposed legislation has been criticized by gun control advocates as posing a serious and unnecessary risk to public safety.
“What [a suppressor] does is it disperses the sound, so you can’t identify where the sound is coming from,” Democratic Rep. Mike Thompson explained to the Chronicle. “It puts both law enforcement and the public at risk.”
“This act is reckless,” says David Chipman, a senior policy adviser at Americans for Responsible Solutions and a retired 25-year veteran of the ATF. “And it’s a threat to public safety.”
Chipman describes himself as a sportsman and gun owner. And he says that guns don’t sound like guns when a suppressor is being used. They also reduce the flash at the end of a muzzle.
In combination, he says, a silencer could confuse the police or the public during a shooting and allow “an active shooter to not give away their location.”