Washington Post Flip-Flops on Suppressors

After a fact-checking story criticized those who misrepresented suppressors, the paper ran an editorial criticizing suppressors.
After a fact-checking story criticized those who misrepresented suppressors, the paper ran an editorial criticizing suppressors.web photo

The NRA has called out the editors of the Washington Post for a recent editorial that backtracks on what the paper had earlier published regarding suppressors and the pending Hearing Protection Act legislation that would remove them from the list of NFA restricted items and allow them to be purchased like normal firearms.

Previously, the paper had written a fact check piece on Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Americans for Responsible Solutions for overstating the noise-cancelling properties of suppressors, making it seem like they can make guns whisper-quiet assassin tools straight out of Hollywood.

But, in a bit of serious flip-flopping, the Post is now calling for the NRA to back off from its support of the HPA, saying that they should, instead, encourage people to wear earplugs.

"And it's true: Gunshots are loud, generally louder than the 140-decibel limit for "impulse noises" set by federal occupational safety and health authorities. Audiologists have found that hunters' risk of significant high-frequency hearing loss increases by seven percent for every five years they hunt," the paper's editorial board writes. "Yet the sound of gunfire also has benefits, health- and safety-wise. The 'bang' can signal to bystanders to take cover or help police to locate a threat. Maybe that's why they say rifles 'report.'"

Actually, it’s probably because a definition of “report” is “a sudden loud noise.”

The piece goes on to admit that suppressors don't actually make firearms silent, writing "the noise-reduction devices at issue do not eliminate gun noise; they reduce it by 30 decibels or so, making 'suppressor' a more accurate term," which is the term the industry that makes the devices uses, yet the op-ed continues to use "silencer" throughout the article and in the headline.

The Post board goes on to admit that suppressors don't actually pose a threat from criminals either, 'silencers are almost never used in murders and other crimes under the current restrictive law, but certainly they would be used in more crimes if there were more of them in circulation.'"

Certainly there would be statistics or some kind of study to cite that shows the only thing preventing criminals from regularly using suppressors in crimes is the fact that there are only about a million of them in the country, right? Well, that’s what the Post is saying, but they don’t point to any proof.

We've previously reported that suppressors are rarely used in crime for a number of reasons, like they make a firearm larger and more difficult to conceal, they often block the sights making aiming impossible unless specialized sights are used, they're expensive, a suppressor must be suited to a specific caliber and the threads on a suppressor have to match the threads on a given gun barrel for it, or a quick-release device, to be attached. Most gun barrels cannot accept a suppressor without significant modification by a gunsmith. This is all in addition to the fact that criminals use firearms to intimidate and frighten people, and part of that is the noise.

The entire piece is written as if suppressors will soon be available in blister packaging on the rack at your local Walmart. Even if the Hearing Protection Act does pass, gun owners who wish to purchase a suppressor would still have to pass a NICS background check performed by an FFL as if they were buying a firearm. They just wouldn't have to fill out a bunch of paperwork in advance, including the serial number of the product they've already purchased but cannot possess, and wait weeks to pay an extra $200 for a tax stamp.

The op-ed concludes by rehashing the same argument that has been regularly launched against suppressors from the antigun crowd, that "effective alternative to silencers are readily available," speaking of course of earplugs and earmuffs. It then goes on to say that "firearms users generally don't take these simple precautions," which might shock the majority of gun owners and every shooting range that requires eye and ear pro at all times…which is like, every shooting range.

"Congress should tell the NRA to go away and not come back unless and until it has waged a serious campaign to get recreational shooters to take precautions and has measured the results," the board writes.

Suppressors make firearms easier to use, easier to train and hunt with, and create a safer teaching environment for new shooters, who can use a suppressed firearm and still hear everything around them and, most important, the voice of their instructor at all times. Even with the most expensive noise-cancelling ear protection, that’s not happening without a can on the barrel.

Suppressors also tend to make guns less frightening for new shooters, which means more gun owners will seek out instruction and learn how to use their firearms and use them well, which is the safest thing they can do.