Several years ago I participated in a few competitive handgun events in an indoor range. The noise in a confined area was deafening, even with both plugs and shooting earmuffs.
I was reminded of that recently while reading an autobiography in which the writer described the time he and his apartment neighbor had a conversation. The neighbor was wearing shooting earmuffs. His explanation was that he wanted to protect his hearing if he had to shoot an intruder. Good idea, as half baked as it was, but how would he have heard the intruder?
However, he certainly had a point. Even a single gunshot in close proximity can cause hearing loss. Shoot a gun in a household hallway, and the concussion can raise the roof. That's an exaggeration, but it could very easily damage unprotected ear drums.
In the movies they are called silencers, and they were the province of the professional killers and international spies. Currently, they are treated like fully automatic guns by the federal government, i.e., the buyer has to go through a class 3 firearms dealer, pay a hefty fee, get local law enforcement approval, and wait.
But all that might change. See Hill Republicans try to ease purchase of gun 'silencers,' as NRA-backed Trump arrives
Congressional Republicans are trying to change federal guns regulations to make buying a silencer, or suppressor, easier. But critics don’t agree with the argument that the proposed legislation is a safety measure to prevent hearing injuries.
The Hearing Protection Act, introduced earlier this week in the GOP-controlled House and Senate, if passed, would still require a background check to buy a silencer, which muffles or suppresses more than silences the sound of a shot.
However, buyers would no longer have to pay a $200 fee or wait for months after filing extensive paperwork with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
House Bill 367 and Senate bill 59 both would eliminate the fee and provide that silencers would be treated the same as long guns. The House Bill would be effective for transfers after October 22, 2015. So could silencer buyers after that date get a tax refund? Not so fast. The Senate bill is almost exactly the same except that it's effective only for transfers after January 9, 2017. And we can probably assume lawmakers aren't going to authorize rebates for taxes paid as far back as October 2015.
So I would hold off until those bills are reconciled and signed into law before shopping for a silencer. But I've already added one to my Christmas wish list.