Republican Bill Makes It Easier to Buy Silencers for Automatic Weapons; Now You May Not Even Hear When You’re Being Slaughtered
If you heard the repeating pop-pop-pop of Stephen Paddock’s automatic weapon as he sprayed the Las Vegas crowd on Sunday night, you had some warning that you and others were being shot indiscriminately. But Trump and the Republicans don’t even want you to have that much of a chance to save yourself in the next mass shooting.
The House is considering legislation, H.R. 3668, that would remove restrictions on buying silencers, a move critics say would make it harder for people targeted by a gunman to know where the bullets are coming from.
“The crowd fled at the sound of gunshots,” tweeted former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton after our nation’s latest record-setting mass murder, this time in Las Vegas. “Imagine the deaths if the shooter had a silencer, which the NRA wants to make easier to get.”
At least 58 people were killed and 515 injured when a gunman shot at a crowd at a music festival from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. The shooting is the deadliest in modern U.S. history. The suspected gunman is Stephen Paddock, 64, of Mesquite, Nev., who apparently killed himself.
The silencer bill, known as the Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act, would remove silencers from the 1934 National Firearms Act which requires buyers to undergo a background check that can take up to a year and pay a $200 tax. The bill is sponsored by Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.).
“It’s about ultimately helping those who are hunters to be able to protect their hearing and still enjoy their sport and be successful at it,” Duncan said.
The National Rifle Association has called the silencer bill one of its “top legislative priorities.”
The NRA’s push to pass the bill comes as gun sales are in a slump. Selling more silencers could potentially enrich the gun industry by hundreds of millions of dollars a year.
Since 2010, the number of legally registered silencers has more than tripled, going from 285,087 in 2010 to 902,805 in 2016. The Violence Policy Center says silencers can help mass murderers kill more efficiently.
“When will our nation take action to stop the next ‘worst mass shooting in U.S. history’?” asked Josh Sugarmann, the executive director of the Violence Policy Center.
Some city police chiefs have opposed the bill.
“The widespread and uncontrolled distribution of silencers to an unwary civilian population, combined with the sheer number of firearms freely available in America is a step in the wrong direction and will result in tragedy,” the chiefs wrote.
Trump called the Las Vegas shootings an “act of pure evil.” He plans to visit Las Vegas on Wednesday.
But Trump is cozy with the silencer industry. Joshua Waldron, the CEO of SilencerCo, was invited to Trump’s inauguration. Waldron and his wife, Audrey, donated more than $50,000 to Trump’s presidential campaign.
Donald Trump Jr., a hunter, recorded a promotional video for silencers with Waldron.
“I love your product,” Trump Jr. said.
Featured image: Promotional photo from SilencerCo. The company boasts that its top-of-the-line silencers are “designed for bolt action, semi-auto, and full-auto firearms… [and] maximum user
adaptability and convenience.”