Should silencers be easy to obtain?

Published 9:29 am Monday, January 30, 2017

by Danny Tyree

Although he’s probably fighting a losing battle, political science professor Robert J. Spitzer stirred up a hornets’ nest with a Washington Post opinion piece titled “The NRA wants to suppress one of guns’ most important safety features.”

Spitzer is concerned that the new Congress will rubber-stamp the National Rifle Association’s proposals and undo most of the roadblocks to purchasing a silencer (or a “suppressor,” as the firearms industry prefers to call it). Silencers are legal in 42 states, but waiting periods, background checks, special taxes, mandatory viewing of ultrasounds of Bambi’s mother, etc. mean aggravation for potential owners.

Even some ardent supporters of the Second Amendment can see the appeal of slowing down the proliferation of silencers. For many people, silencers conjure up thoughts of gangland slayings, innocent bystanders walking into a mass shooting scene without any warning or trespassers poaching on private property without the owners being any the wiser.

On the other hand, there are actually many Legitimate Reasons for silencers. (Granted, legitimate reasons are almost as easy to procure as a fake i.d., as in “There’s a LEGITIMATE REASON why I need the key to my parents’ liquor cabinet, a sump pump and a camel named Clyde.”)

One benefit of silencers is that they reduce recoil and increase accuracy. Of course people were COMPENSATING for recoil (so they could feed their families and win wars) long before silencers were invented, so I guess it’s just that “Practice makes perfect” has been dumbed down to “Practice makes you wish you had a shortcut.”

Advocates of silencers argue that they reduce auditory damage from hours of blasting away at targets or nature’s creatures. Of course such damage is a voluntary, self-inflicted wound. I hope parachutists don’t start demanding that Uncle Sam cover the ground with Styrofoam peanuts.

Things have come to a pretty pass. Our revolutionary ancestors fired “the shot heard ‘round the world.” Now it seems we’re playing a genteel game of Don’t Wake Daddy.

We need to be secure in our own homes, but “stand your ground” covers that. It’s a bit of overkill to guarantee “stand your ground and never even worry about drowning out Fallon or Kimmel.”

Silencer enthusiasts prefer them to earplugs or ear covers because the latter are considered a drag on the “social experience” of shooting. Silencers are supposed to make the shooting experience “more neighborly.” I can see that taking a wrong turn. (“Say, neighbor — I hate bringing this up at the shooting range; but remember my leaf blower you’ve failed to return for the past three years? And as for your son climbing through my daughter’s upstairs window…” FUMF! FUMF!)

Spitzer’s critics say he pays lip service to the Bill of Rights, but chooses to interpret “a well-regulated militia” as “citizens we could depend on to give a synchronized GROUP HUG to despotic forces.”

Some debaters wish we could summon the Founding Fathers to authorize ACCESSORIES for the right to keep and bear arms. That might backfire. (“WE’VE got wooden teeth, gout, powdered wig lice and a shortage of good leeches – and YOU’RE worried about a little ringing in your ears?”)

Cut Spitzer some slack. Maybe he’s just overreacting to rumors about the NRA’s five-year plan. Completely unsubstantiated sources hint their goal is drone delivery of state-of-the-art silencers to “every red-blooded, well-trained, level-headed gun owner – or Current Occupant.”

DANNY TYREE welcomes email responses at and visits to his Facebook fan page “Tyree’s Tyrades.”