The Hearing Protection Act of 2017 is making its way through the bureaucratic labyrinth we call Congress. This bill would make sound suppressors (“silencers”) for firearms no longer subject to the strict requirements of the National Firearms Act (NFA). Instead, suppressors would be treated the same as a bolt action rifle or a shotgun, as far as federal law is concerned: “To provide that silencers be treated the same as long guns.” [H.R. 367]. The bill also preempts State and local laws regarding silencers.
I’m not a lawyer or a legal expert. But it seems from the wording of the bill that a State might still outlaw silencers altogether. So the preemption would seem to be limited. Also, I’m certain that the more gun-leery States will sue to keep silencers from being legal in their jurisdiction. So, at least in the short term, we are talking about a greater availability of suppressors, without the federal $200 tax stamp and with far less waiting and paperwork. If it passes.
Hearing protection is important for prepping and survival.
Firing a gun indoors increases the noise level and the potential damage to hearing. I suppose you could shoot only Quiet-22 ammo, which is hearing safe without a silencer. But that’s not an effective round for self-defense. And as you go up in power among different types of ammo, there is a trade-off. Greater power usually comes with louder sound, and more potential damage to hearing.
To use any weapon effectively for self-defense, you must train. And that means firing many more rounds in practice than you ever will fire in self-defense. But the more you use a gun, the greater the potential damage to hearing. Hearing protection is a must.
The greatest protection is found in using a double protection system: inside the ear plugs, covered by over the ear muffs. Double protection with muffs rated at NRR 33 (noise reduction rating in decibels) plus ear plugs offers a real-world reduction of 30 to 35 decibels, according to a CDC study: Noise and Lead Exposures at an Outdoor Firing Range. The rated NRR number is overly optimistic.
For home defense, you are not going to put in ear plugs, and then put on ear muffs. I suggest keeping a pair of simple, non-electric ear muffs by your home defense gun, to throw on in case you need to use the gun. Even then, you can’t reasonably expect everyone in your household to put on hearing protection before using a gun against an assailant.
The solution to the conundrum? A good sound suppressor. An ideal home defense gun is a pistol caliber carbine with a silencer. The noise level is low enough to use without hearing protection for a few shots, although you are still better off with ear muffs. And the new Hush ammo from Freedom Munitions is very quiet with any good suppressor.
If the Hearing Protection Act passes, get a silencer. Even if the law subsequently changes, you might be grandfathered in. If it does not pass, you might still want to go through the process of getting a suppressor, but it will be more expensive and much more time consuming. Worth it, in my view.
Which suppressor should you get? Honestly, there are many good ones out there, and not much difference between them. Check out some of the many silencer reviews online and pick anyone with a good rating. It’s far better than no suppressor at all.