Gun control groups up campaign to stop suppressor reform

Advocates are increasing their efforts to halt the progress of legislation tracking to remove suppressors from National Firearms Act control.

The Law Enforcement Coalition for Common Sense last week sent Congressional leaders a letter signed by the group urging them to oppose the Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement or SHARE Act, an omnibus package of pro-gun legislation including the Hearing Protection Act.

“As longtime law enforcement professionals, we have seen the horrific results of dangerous weapons falling into the wrong hands,” said the group. “The deregulation of firearm silencers through the SHARE Act or the Hearing Protection Act would only make these results more common and often more fatal.”

The organization was formed as an offshoot of former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords’ Americans for Responsible Solutions in February with 20, often retired, law enforcement veterans. The group includes former Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Director B. Todd Jones, former Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey and Seattle Chief Kathleen O’Toole.

In addition to the letter, Giffords’ group posted a compilation of clips drawn from interviews with Republican lawmakers in the aftermath of June’s Congressional baseball shooting that left House Majority Whip Steve Scalise and five others injured. Entitled “I Heard the Shots” the one-minute video makes the case that, had the shooter’s SKS rifle been suppressed, the carnage could have been higher.

David Chipman, a retired ATF agent, now with the Giffords’ organization, made the same case in hearings on the SHARE Act before the House Subcommittee on Federal Lands.

However, U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce, a New Mexico Republican who was in the batting cage when a gunman opened fire, rebuffed Chipman’s assertions, citing it was the return fire from Capitol Police, not the initial unsuppressed rifle fire from the shooter, that alerted those at the scene to an active shooter.

“The idea of maybe using that to not have silencers is something I question in your testimony,” said Pearce.

Chipman steered clear of the baseball shooting in an op-ed published over the weekend by The Hill but maintained his position on suppressors being a threat to public safety.

“While responding officers try to keep the public safe during an active shooting, it would be much more difficult to locate the shooter and neutralize threats,” Chipman said.

Other national gun control groups, for example, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety, are also campaigning against the SHARE Act’s suppressor language.

Advocates for the Hearing Protection Act point out that the devices would still have to be sold through Federal Firearms Licensees after a background check, only drop the noise of a gunshot to roughly that of a jet engine, and that few crimes have ever been committed with the devices.

“Americans for Responsible Solutions isn’t interested in pursuing facts,” Knox Williams, president of the American Suppressor Association, told Guns.com. “If they were, they would take us up on our offer to go to the range so they could hear firsthand, for the first time, just how ‘quiet’ suppressed gunshots really are.”

Williams pointed out that reporters like CNN’s Victor Blackwell have joined the group on the range to find out more about suppressors, and the offer stands to do the same for journalists and organizations to help separate Hollywood from reality.

“At this point, ARS is nothing more than a propaganda machine whose arguments against suppressors are based solely on willful ignorance,” said Williams.

The SHARE Act was marked up by the House Committee on Natural Resources last Thursday, sending it to the House floor.