NPR

Debate Over Silencers: Hearing Protection Or Public Safety Threat?

Legislation would loosen restrictions on gun suppressors, with proponents saying quieter guns protect shooters' hearing. But opponents say easier-to-get silencers are a risk to the public.

Legislation would loosen restrictions on gun suppressors, with proponents saying quieter guns protect shooters' hearing. But opponents say easier-to-get silencers are a risk to the public. Source: Niki Chan Wylie for NPR

There's a wall-long mural in the manufacturing area of SilencerCo, in West Valley City, Utah, that shows a crowd of people with muzzled mouths. One's holding a sign that says, "Fight the Noise." Another says: "Guns don't have to be loud."

As a leading manufacturer and seller of gun silencers — or suppressors, as they're more accurately called — SilencerCo wants to quiet guns. Congress may soon help in the effort.

Silencers are one of the most heavily regulated products in the gun industry. Lawmakers are pushing legislation that would loosen those long-standing federal regulations, making silencers easier to buy for the general public.

The silencer industry, gun-advocacy groups and some shooting-sports groups are backing the legislation, saying that quieter guns preserve and protect

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