As a leading manufacturer and seller of gun silencers — or suppressors, as they’re more accurately called — SilencerCo of Utah wants to quiet guns. Congress may soon help in the effort, NPR reports. 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 shooters’ hearing. The gun accessory, they argue, is unfairly regulated and vilified.
Gun-control groups and congressional Democrats are fighting against the legislation, citing mass shootings and assassinations of police as examples of why guns should be loud and their sound recognizable. Both argue it’s a matter of public safety. There are nearly a million registered silencers owned by people in the U.S., according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Jason Schauble of SilencerCo says they’re largely misunderstood. “Most people know what they see in movies,” he says. “And they see, oh, it’s always a spy, you know, somebody who’s involved in some sort of combat scenario [using them]. And then also, the sound that it makes is very, very quiet compared to what really happens.” A silencer doesn’t silence a gunshot. “It’s essentially a muffler for a gun,” Schauble says.