Thursday, June 7, 2012

Suppressors in Minnesota

The most popular post on this blog so far has been Suppressor Law in MN, and the regular comments there have kept the subject close to my thoughts since.

Recently Minnesota law has been changed to add military units, law enforcement agencies, and the dealers who supply these agencies to the list of organizations authorized to own suppressors. This is a good step towards allowing background-checked, licensed civilians to own and use suppressors, which is more in line with federal law and my interpretation of the Second Amendment.

First of all: some data on hearing damage from firearms. Even if you never own a suppressor, this should give you a good reason to remember to wear hearing protection at the range. Keep in mind that the decibel level for permanent hearing damage from a sudden noise (impulse noise) is 140 decibels (dB).

9mm   = 159.8 dB
.223 (18" barrel) = 155.5 dB
.45 ACP = 157 dB
12 gauge (18" barrel) = 161.5 dB
.357 Magnum = 172 dB

One of the counter-arguments to the legalization and normalization of suppressors is that no one has a good reason for owning a firearm muffler. Despite 'no good reason' not being a valid counter-argument, I have three examples where this is not true.

Home defense:
Many people keep a firearm in the home for the purpose of defending themselves or their family, but if they ever need to use that firearm they will almost certainly suffer permanent hearing loss from the event. Even a single outdoor exposure to the report from a small caliber firearm falls above the safe noise limit. 

Indoors, more of the sound is reflected into the firearm user's ears for a substantial increase in permanent hearing damage. An installed suppressor would bring the report of the firearm down to hearing-safe levels, and make a horrifying experience less physically damaging.

It's always a great experience to bring a new shooter into the sport, but training them to be safe an accurate with a firearm can be difficult with bulky hearing protection on. A suppressor makes the process safer, more educational, and more fun. In fact, the normalization of suppressors is probably one of the biggest threats to the 'gun control' people because they minimize one of the biggest technical complaints about firearms and make shooting even more fun for a first-timer. A suppressor on a .22 is great way to guarantee a great big first-time shooter smile. Don't believe me? Ask Oleg Volk (fair warning: some images are NSFW)w

Many Minnesotans (averaging around 360,000 for the last five years) buy deer licenses and, presumably, go hunting with them. Sitting out in the woods is a quiet, calm affair interrupted by extremely loud noises. At normal 'shooting in the woods' distance, most deer take off running at the first gunshot. While a suppressor does not eliminate the sound of guns being fired, they do help to mask the direction that a shot came from, letting hunters shoot multiple deer in a herd to fill their limit, or simply take a second shot at a deer that their first shot missed. Allowing hunters to use suppressors would help to make the deer harvest quieter and more efficient, and making the deer hunting season safer for hunter's ears and less annoying to people who live on farms and in houses near hunting lands.

I think it's important to not that while I used the term 'allow' regarding the government letting it's citizens own suppressors, I don't think this is the correct word. It is not, in my opinion. the government's place to 'allow' people to own suppressors, any more than it's the government's place to 'allow' any other exercise of constitutional rights. The government's only role regarding fundamental human rights is to protect them, not limit them.

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