September 11, 2017 —In advance of tomorrow’s Congressional hearing on a bill that includes a provision to roll back a federal law that’s been keeping silencers out of the hands of dangerous people for over 80 years, distinguished law enforcement leaders from across the country are calling on Congress to oppose this dangerous legislation. Released today by Americans for Responsible Solutions and signed by a group of law enforcement leaders, a letter addressed to Congressional leadership explains the serious threats this bill poses to the public safety of communities across the country if it were to pass.
The letter reads: “As longtime law enforcement professionals, we have seen the horrific results of dangerous weapons falling into the wrong hands. 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. We urge you to reject any reckless attempt to remove silencers from the NFA, including the SHARE Act and the Hearing Protection Act, and help us to keep American communities safe.”
Tomorrow, David Chipman, a former Special Agent at ATF for 25 years and a Senior Policy Advisor at Americans for Responsible Solutions, will testify before the House Committee on Natural Resources Federal Lands Subcommittee about the public safety threats posed by the Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) Act.
“When gun silencers fall in the wrong hands they are inherently dangerous devices. Silencers mask the sound and flash of gunfire. They make it difficult for people who are nearby, including law enforcement officers, to identify the sound of gunshots and locate an active shooter,” said David Chipman, former ATF Special Agent and Senior Policy Advisor at Americans for Responsible Solutions. “Because of effective regulation, silencers are rarely used in crimes and rarely sold illegally. Congress should not change that; they should not dismantle a law that’s working and keeping our communities safer.”
The letter released today adds to mounting opposition voiced by law enforcement leaders, who have been speaking out about the public safety dangers of deregulating gun silencers for the past several months:
- Law Enforcement Partnership: “Before these ill-considered changes to existing firearms law, the primary target for silencer manufacturers has been military tactical teams who use silencers to confuse the sound of gunfire and confound an enemy’s response to surprise attack. 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, including violence directed at police officers that will be difficult or impossible to investigate effectively.” [Letter to Congress, 03/10/2017]
- Prince George’s County, Maryland Police Chief Hank Stawinski: “Silencers only exacerbate the danger because it makes it difficult for officers to figure out where gunfire is coming from. That by itself in the era of the active shooter is a concern. This is not the moment to change.” [Washington Post, 05/16/2017]
- Cook County, Illinois Sheriff Tom Dart: “Would it further embolden people? Sure it would, how would it not, part and parcel of shootings is that people are trying not to get caught so now you are infecting something that increases the chances that you won’t get caught” [ABC 7 Chicago, 4/30/17]
- Wapol, Massachusetts Police Chief John Carmichael: “While suppressors do not mask the sound emitted from a firearm as much as we frequently see in Hollywood movies, they may muffle it enough that someone nearby would be unaware of a shot fired. Some Massachusetts communities even use technology such as ShotSpotter to alert law enforcement of possible shots fired in order to respond quickly and deploy necessary assets. Since suppressors also reduce muzzle flash, especially in low light conditions, and reduce recoil and muzzle position, they pose an additional threat to law enforcement during critical incidents involving shooters, as it hinders their ability to pinpoint the perpetrator’s location.” [The Boston Globe, 08/04/17]
- Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson: “[Silencers] Could silence those weapons just like military grade weapons. We don’t need them in the streets of Chicago.” [WTTW Chicago, 02/28/17]
- Retired Trenton, New Jersey Police Sgt. Luddie Austin: “If we hear the sound of gunfire, we direct our attention to where the sound is coming from.” [The Star-Ledger, 03/6/17]
- Kalamazoo, Michigan Public Safety Chief Jeff Hadley: Hadley said deregulating silencers can pose a safety threat to law enforcement officers, and couldn’t think of the benefit silencers would have to citizens seeking to defend themselves. [MLive Media Network, 03/8/17]
- Augusta, Maine Police Chief Robert Gregoire: “I don’t think they’re necessary for home protection and I don’t think they’re necessary for hunting” [Reuters, 03/8/16]
- Retired SWAT Commander for the LA County Sheriff’s Department Sid Heal: “Sid Heal, a leader at the National Tactical Officers Association and a retired SWAT commander for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, said he doesn’t support the easing of regulations around silencers and that the risks outweigh the gains.” [NPR, 03/21/2017]
About The SHARE Act
The proposed SHARE Act would have a disastrous impact on public safety and law enforcement. Some of the key provisions of the proposed legislation include rolling back an 80-year federal law that regulates the sale of gun silencers; weakening the regulation of interstate firearm transport; and weakening the regulation of armor-piercing ammunition. Read more about the SHARE Act here.
Related Resources from Americans for Responsible Solutions:
- Fact Sheet: Gutting Federal Regulation of Silencers
- Law Enforcement Memo: Protecting Public Safety and Gun Rights
- Medium Post: 5 Things You Need to Know about the Danger of Silencers
- Medium Post: Silencers Threaten the Safety of Law Enforcement,
- Medium Post: Profits Before Public Safety
- Public Opinion Research: Gun Owners See NRA as Out of Touch