In response to the mass shooting that transpired in Virginia Beach, Va., on Friday, President Trump was pressed about his positions on silencers—a misnomer for suppressors—since the suspect used one to kill the 12 victims.
Q The suspect in the Virginia Beach shooting used a silencer on his weapon. Do you believe that silencers should be restricted?
THE PRESIDENT: I don’t like them at all.
The information presented on suppressors, much like other firearms nomenclature, is grossly inaccurate. Too many people think what happens in the movies, particularly in action films, is the reality behind use of suppressors.
Here’s a good thread on them from Washington Free Beacon’s Stephen Gutowski:
President Trump’s comment on suppressors directly runs in contrast to those of his son, Donald Trump, Jr., who spoke favorably of them during a September 2016 interview with SilencerCo.
“It’s about safety,” Trump Jr. explained in a September 2016 video interview with SilencerCo’s founder. “It’s a health issue, frankly.”
Suppressors are gunshot-muffling devices retrofitted for rifles, shotguns, and pistols. When a gun is fired, propellant gases travel from a small barrel chamber into open air. As pressure and temperature change, it results in the blast we commonly associate with guns. When a suppressor is attached to the barrel of a firearm, it allows the gasses contained there to have more space to dissipate and cool before being exposed to open air. Therefore, a suppressor will reduce gunshot noise to safe hearing levels below 140 decibels. This doesn’t mean forgoing hearing protection altogether. In turn, it will reduce gunshot noise by roughly 20 to 35 decibels—which is the equivalent of wearing earplugs or earmuffs.
Those interested in purchasing them must undergo a rigorous process due to current federal and state regulations currently in place under the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives National Firearms Act. In order to purchase a suppressor, one must be a resident of the U.S., must be legally eligible to purchase a firearm, and consent to a BAFTE background check. Moreover, one must be at least 21 years old to purchase it from a dealer or at least 18 years old to purchase it from another person.
Suppressors have many added benefits in addition to hearing protection. They reduce firearm recoil by making it easier for increased accuracy while target shooting. The American Suppressor Association also notes suppressors help contain the explosion of gunpowder at the muzzle of a firearm by reducing recoil and helping decrease muzzle flinch—leading to improved accuracy, precise shot placements, and more humane hunting harvests.
This isn’t the first time President Trump has voiced his personal opinions against certain gun parts. He previously said bump stocks should be “written out” after the Parkland shooting in February 2018—a ban that went into effect back in April. The ban was also inspired by the October 2017 Las Vegas massacre that left nearly 60 people dead.
As many observers note, these bans are largely ineffective in preventing gun violence and massacres. We shall see if President Trump recommends ATF restrict suppressors even further.