Gun silencers: A hit or miss

Those against and for the Mass. ban on gun silencers listen to testimonies by civilians and elected officials in the State House. Photo: Maya Gacina/Bay State Herald

BOSTON – In 2014, Massachusetts became one of eight states to ban gun silencers for civilian use. Sen. Michael Moore, Millbury Democrat, head of the JointCommitteeon Public Safety and Homeland Security, is pushing to end the ban after hearing from hunters and target shooters in his district who want to use silencers or suppressors, as they’re known in the industry. Lawmakers on the committee held a public hearing, allowing both sides of the debate to testify.

Ever since sweeping Mass. gun legislation wassigned into law in August 2014, the gun-rights fight between proponents and opponents of silencing, muffling, and diminishing the sound of a firearm for civilian use has been constant and ever-growing.

Rep. David Paul Linsky, Norfolk Democrat, who testified in support of the silencer ban, recalled last week’s shooting in Rancho Tehama, California, which killed five and injured 10.

“Every single person interviewed in that school said they became aware of the shooting by the sound of the gunshots,” he said.

The Gun Owners Action League (GOAL) Executive Director Jim Wallace said silencers or suppressors on guns still produce sound, just not as loud.

“A suppressed gun is reduced to 110-120 decimals — that is as loud as a jackhammer. Now you all tell me if a jackhammer isn’t loud,” he said.

GOAL of Massachusetts testified in the Committee on behalf of their organization, NRA, and other manufacturers that would benefit if the ban was lifted.

“All of the gun manufacturers have no idea what they can sell and that has an impact on our numbers,” Wallace said.

Founder of Stop Handgun Violence John Rosenthal, best known for his anti-gun violence billboard over Mass. Pike, is a gun owner and testified in support of the gun laws and restrictions made in 1998, 2004, and 2014. This country is gun violence by design, he said, the Trump family even owns a stake in a silencing company.

“Deregulating silencers on assault weapons by the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security would be like the Environmental Protection Agency saying we should deregulate arsenic,” he said.

Taking away the ban on gun silencers would simply allow people to get away with murder without detection, Rosenthal said.

Ned Notis-McConarty is the leader of the Episcopal Diocese B-PEACE for Jorge campaign, which began after 19-year old Jorge Fuentes was shot and killed outside his home in Dorchester in Sept. 2012.
“Eliminating restrictions on gun silencers will increase violence and it will increase deaths. There is no positive on the other side counteracting that,” Notis-McConarty said.

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