H.R.367 – Hearing Protection Act of 2017

Here is a letter I wrote to my Representative urging his support for H.R. 367, the Hearing Protection Act of 2017. You may use this letter word-for-word, although for maximum effect, I would strongly encourage personalizing it before sending it to your Congressperson.

Dear Representative,

I am writing to express support for H.R. 367, the Hearing Protection Act of 2017.

Under Federal law, sound suppressors are known as ‘silencers’. This bill would remove the onerous National Firearms Act (NFA) restrictions on sound suppressors. This bill would result in suppressors being treated like long guns, requiring a background check prior to making a purchase.

The existing NFA restrictions impose a $200 tax stamp as well as a lengthy permitting process, which commonly takes between 6 to 10 months to complete.

I’d like to dispel a common myth perpetuated by Hollywood. In movies, sound suppressors are portrayed as making guns almost completely silent. In reality, this is far from the truth. A gunshot from a .223 caliber rifle (one of the most common calibers in America) has a noise level of approximately 155 decibels. That is extremely loud. In comparison, a jet engine has a noise level of approximately 140 decibels, which is sufficient to instantly damage one’s hearing. A quality sound suppressor can reduce the noise level to about 134 decibels — still very loud.

Sound suppressors have many benefits. Primarily, they help to protect the hearing of the person operating the firearm and the people nearby. This is especially useful for hunters, who often don’t use hearing protection while hunting (anecdotally, my father and my brother don’t use hearing protection while hunting, despite my objections). Hearing loss is a serious problem in the United States and contributes significantly to the cost of healthcare. Another benefit is that there is less noise pollution; people who live near shooting ranges would appreciate this, I’m sure.

In almost every other area in life, we try to reduce noise pollution. For example, cars and trucks have mufflers to reduce exhaust noise. Airports sometimes have strict restrictions on flight paths and landing/takeoff times in order to reduce noise pollution in residential areas. Municipalities and communities impose limitations on excessive noise by residents. Let’s rid ourselves of this double standard and make gun mufflers more accessible.

Note that this bill does not infringe upon states’ rights. States would still have the right to regulate or ban sound suppressors as they currently do. This bill would not have any effect on states like California which already prohibit the possession of sound suppressors by those other than law enforcement and military personnel for use in their official duties.

Thank you,
<insert name and address here>