The gun industry, which for decades has complained about federal restrictions on firearm silencers, is pursuing new legislation to make them easier to buy, and a key backer is Donad Trump Jr., an avid hunter and the oldest son of the president-elect, who campaigned as a friend of the gun industry, the Washington Post reports. The legislation stalled in Congress last year. With Republicans in charge of Congress and the elder Trump moving into the White House, gun rights advocates are excited about its prospects this year. They call the bill, the Hearing Protection Act, a public-health effort to safeguard the eardrums of the nation’s 55 million gun owners. It would end treating silencers as the same category as machine guns and grenades, eliminating a $200 tax and a nine-month approval process. “It’s about safety,” Trump Jr. explained in a video interview with the founder of SilencerCo, a Utah silencer manufacturer. “It’s a health issue, frankly.”
Violence prevention advocates are outraged that the industry is linking the issue to the eardrums of gun owners. They argue the legislation will make it easier for criminals and potential mass shooters to obtain devices to conceal attacks. “They want the general public to think it’s about hearing aids or something,” said Kristen Rand of the Violence Policy Center. “It’s both a silly and smart way to do it, I guess. But when the general public finds out what’s really happening, there will be outrage.” The silencer industry and gun rights groups say critics overstate the dangers, arguing that Hollywood has created an unrealistic image of silencers, which they call “suppressors.” They cite studies showing that silencers reduce the decibel level of a gunshot from a dangerous 165 to about 135 — the sound of a jackhammer — and that they are rarely used in crimes.