Since I registered for Medicare, a week doesn’t go by when I don’t receive something in the mail offering a hearing aid at a reduced ‘special for seniors’ price. So when I found out about a new federal bill called the Hearing Protection Act, I got really excited because I figured that the Congress was going to make it easier and cheaper for me to start hearing again.

silencer             But in fact this proposed law has nothing to do with helping me hear at all; the purpose of the bill is to make it easier to buy a silencer and thus make it harder for me to hear the sound of a gun being shot off, a noise which, by the way, is a good thing to hear because it tells me that someone may be using a gun in a dangerous and unsafe way.

It figures that the moment Gun-nut Nation comes up with a way to bolster sagging gun sales, they would want everyone to think that what they are doing will actually protect people rather than create harm. The same bunch has been peddling the same nonsense about the virtues and benefits of concealed-carry and the value of walking around with a gun.  But the problem is that gun sales have now slumped and industry analysts predict a rocky year ahead.  Shares of Smith & Wesson (now calling themselves American Outdoor Brands I guess because they own a company that manufactures saws for cutting down trees) have dropped from $30 to $20 a share – the Obama bloom is clearly off the rose and nobody sees it coming back any time soon.

But why would anyone imagine that just because people can now put a silencer on their gun that this will help the gun industry sell more guns?  Because putting a silencer on a gun isn’t the same thing as just changing the grip or adding a laser sight.  In order to mount a silencer on the front of a gun barrel you need to machine the outside of the barrel’s end so that the silencer will screw on and hold tight. If the silencer isn’t mounted exactly flush on these rails, you’ll probably destroy the silencer with the first shot and also probably break the gun. Now here’s where things get tricky, or sticky.

Most hunting guns have barrels that will take a scope or use the iron (open) sights that are part of the barrel itself. Which means for a silencer you have to change barrels which in many cases requires changing the gun.  This is also true with pistols, some of which have barrels that are easily swapped out, others are attached to the bolt. And every pistol that might take a silencer will need a longer barrel so that the part that is machined to accept the silencer will stick out from the front of the slide.  In other words, you’re buying another gun.

Funny, but this doesn’t seem to be explained in the advertising for silencers that I have seen online.  You would think from the promotion for silencers is that all you have to do is buy one, then go through the paperwork, fork over your $200, wait six months or more for the purchase to be approved and then away you go.  That’s not true. What this new law aims to do is get rid of the current licensing process (mandated since the National Firearms Act of 1934) and thus make the purchase of a silencer just as easy and simple as buying any other consumer product that you can put on a gun.

Know what? This law has nothing to do with protecting hearing. The purpose of this law is to give the gun industry a new product line that can be sold to current gun owners because nobody’s buying new guns.  The only protection being offered by this law is protection for the gun industry’s bottom line.