Despite being around for more than a century, suppressors aren’t really used in crimes. In fact, it seems like the only time you see a crime committed with a suppressor, it’s where having the suppressor itself is illegal for whatever reason. They’re just not used that way very often.
However, if the Hearing Protection Act passes as part of the SHARE Act, suppressors will likely become far more common.
That has the hysterical tribe at The Trace worried about criminals getting their grubby little paws on them via theft.
Congress could vote as soon as this week to repeal part of an 80-year-old law that has forced owners of silencers to register the devices with the federal government. Supporters of removing restrictions on silencers have dismissed the concerns of opponents by pointing out that suppressors, as they’re also known, are today rarely used in crimes.
The more pertinent public safety question, however, is what could happen if many more silencers enter circulation.
Even with the hurdles that silencer buyers must deal with, demand for the items is already increasing, fueled by a new generation of suppressors and some slick marketing. There are now more that 1.3 million of them registered with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, up from about 360,000 just five years ago. There’s also evidence to suggest that as silencers have gained a foothold with gun owners, some are winding up in the black market.
We’ve written before that as goes the legal gun industry, so goes the criminal arsenal. Firearms and related tools like extended magazines that are initially sold legally end up in criminals’ hands in several ways: unregulated private transactions, straw purchases and, of course, theft.
To be sure, theft is a legitimate concern. It’s impossible to keep things out of criminals’ hands because they’re often acquired via theft, either directly or indirectly on the black market. I’d like to applaud The Trace for at least acknowledging that criminals are unlikely to walk into a gun store and buy suppressors. Good for them.
Make no mistake, criminals will get their hands on suppressors via theft. It’s going to happen, unfortunately.
Of course, criminals can make suppressors in their garage right now. All the information is on the internet for anyone and their brother to look at if they so choose. It’s been that way for years.
Yet they’re still rarely used in crime. Why is that?
Take a look at this photo of a suppressed pistol, since handguns are the preferred weapon of the average criminal.
Note that the suppressor extends well beyond the weapon. In fact, it doubles the overall length of the weapon. Guess what this does? It makes it very, very difficult to hide a suppressed firearm.
Seriously, try tucking one of those in the front of your pants sometime and see how quickly you draw.
This makes suppressors very difficult to sneak into a convenience store. It’s also difficult to mill about waiting for someone to pull the gun on and rob.
While criminals will, no doubt, get their hands on suppressors in the course of their “career,” it won’t really help them much. They’re terrible options for their line of work, and with the internet’s instructions laying the mysteries of the suppressor bare years ago, there’s no reason to fear them getting into any crooks hands.
They’re likely already there, and they figure out quickly they’re useless for their purposes.