Menendez lies about suppressors to drum up support for a ban

(AP Photo/Lisa Marie Pane)

Is it just me, or are the arguments from anti-gunners getting dumber? This week we not only saw Washington Gov. Jay Inslee proclaim that the “only purpose” for modern sporting rifles “is to kill humans as rapidly as possible in large numbers” while allowing law enforcement agencies as they want for police to carry around (and allowing existing owners in the state to maintain possession… at least for now), but this whopper from New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez.

Silencers are “designed” to facilitate murder according to Menendez, which will comes as news to many gun owners; especially those in European countries like Norway, Germany, France, and even England, where purchasing a suppressor is simple to do. In fact, some ranges in Europe require the use of suppressors at gun ranges; not because the powers that be want to make it easier for killers to carry out their crimes, but because the real purpose of a silencer is to reduce (but not eliminate) the noise of a discharge and protect gun owners’ hearing.

Gun owners were quick to call out Menendez’s nonsense, though I doubt the senator bothered to read the replies or learn anything about the inanimate objects he wants to ban.

By the way, just like Washington State’s new ban on “assault weapons”, Menendez and House sponsor Bonnie Watson Coleman would allow for police to maintain possession and continue to purchase suppressors, even though its her belief that “silencers are not tools of self-defense, they are tools of murder” with “no legal application.”

Personally, I’d love it if my neighbors were able to purchase suppressors without having to go through the rigamarole of an NFA application and a $200 tax. While I don’t mind the sound of gunfire from adjacent farms and properties, I also wouldn’t object to a lower decibel level. At the very least it would be a boon to one of my dogs, who gets freaked out at every loud noise be it fireworks, thunder, or a gunshot.

Under the HEAR Act (which nonsensically stands for Help Empower Americans to Respond) not only would the sale of suppressors be banned outright, but existing owners would be forced to turn in their devices in exchange for a wee bit of cash within 90 days or face a potential federal felony charge. The HEAR Act (which really should stand for Hurting Every American’s Rights) is also supported by major gun control grouips, who are happy to peddle the same misinformation spewed by Menendez and Watson Coleman. From Menendez’s press release:

“Annual gun deaths have dramatically increased from 33,000 to 49,000 in the United States since 20 children and six educators were shot a killed by a 20-year-old with an AR-15, in Sandy Hook Elementary School,” said Po Murray, Chairwoman of Newtown Action Alliance. “Silencers are dangerous weapons that make it easier for criminals to kill innocent Americans and more difficult for our police officers to protect our children and families. It’s time for Congress to pass this lifesaving legislation.”

“Common-sense regulations on firearm silencers and mufflers is a simple, straightforward step in encouraging responsible gun ownership,” said Elena Perez, Senior Policy Associate at March For Our Lives. “These devices drastically reduce the noise of shots fired, making it challenging to identify where the gunfire is coming from, a potentially fatal mistake in mass shootings. With gun violence increasing in severity across the country, why make already deadly weapons even deadlier?”

In the same press release, Menendez points to a grand total of five incidents involving suppressor-equipped firearms since 2011, while acknowledging that there are at least 900,000 lawfully-owned suppressors at the moment. Of the five incidents (not all of which involved an actual shooting) that Menendez points to one involved the use of a homemade suppressor, another involved a suppressor being sold to someone by an undercover police officer, while a third was a string of murders committed by a former LAPD officer; one of those chosen few who’d be exempt from the ban altogether. While Menendez claims that the law enforcement exception is “limited”, that’s not what the actual legislation shows.

Except as provided in paragraph (2), it shall be unlawful for a person to import, sell, manufacture, transfer, or possess, in or affecting interstate or foreign commerce, a firearm silencer or firearm muffler.

‘‘(2) Paragraph (1) shall not apply to—

‘‘(A) the importation for, manufacture for, sale to, transfer to, or possession by the United States or a department or agency of the United States or a State or a department, agency, or political subdivision of a State, or a sale or transfer to or possession by a qualified law enforcement officer employed by the United States or a department or agency of the United States or a State or a department, agency, or political subdivision of a State for purposes of law enforcement (whether on or off-duty), or a sale or transfer to or possession by a campus law enforcement officer for purposes of law enforcement (whether on or off-duty).

What’s “limited” about that? Basically any cop or sheriff’s deputy would still be able to purchase suppressors, even for use off-duty, despite Menendez’s claim that there’s no legitimate purpose for anyone to own one.

The good news is that Menendez’s bill is going nowhere, even if passes the Democrat-controlled Senate. The bad news is that legislation that would remove suppressors from the NFA altogether isn’t going anywhere either, even if it passes the Republican-controlled House. Still, gun owners are right to push back against this mendacious attempt to manufacture history and tell tall tales about why gun owners might want to own one or more of the devices. When a lie is the best argument the anti-gunners have we’re already winning, but we can’t afford for the truth to be drowned out by their rapid-fire misinformation and misleading claims.