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Bang / Guns
See other Bang / Guns Articles

Title: Silent but deadly
Source: Salon
URL Source: http://www.salon.com/2017/09/12/sil ... -dangerous-new-revenue-stream/
Published: Sep 12, 2017
Author: Amanda Marcotte
Post Date: 2017-09-12 09:19:23 by Willie Green
Keywords: None
Views: 98
Comments: 7

Gun industry eyes a sneaky and dangerous new revenue stream

Republicans hide a rollback on the regulation of gun silencers inside an otherwise innocuous federal lands bill

Donald Trump campaigned on the claim that he would be a “law and order” president, and the 2016 Republican platform called for more “gratitude and support” for law enforcement and expressed concern over “the murder rate soaring in our great cities.” (That last part, at least, was pretty much a fabrication.) Despite that high-minded rhetoric, congressional Republicans are pushing forward with a stealth bill that will make life easier for contract killers, and make it more dangerous for police to protect themselves from gun violence.

On Tuesday, the House Committee on Natural Resources will hear testimony about the innocuously titled “Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act” (or SHARE Act), introduced by Rep. Jeff Duncan, a South Carolina Republican. Buried in the middle of a bunch of provisions regarding hunting and fishing on federal lands, however, is a provision that would roll back parts of an 80-year-old law — passed in response to the St. Valentine’s Day massacre of 1929 —  that regulates the sale of firearm silencers.

“Silencers distort the sound of a gun, and in the wrong hands, they put people’s safety at risk,” John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety, explained to Salon.

Under the National Firearms Act of 1934, people who buy gun silencers must pay a $200 tax and go through a cumbersome registration process with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. When Trump won the election, the NRA made it a top priority to push for the end of these regulations. The campaign largely involved rebranding silencers as “suppressors” and arguing that they are necessary for firearm safety, because they supposedly protect people’s hearing during sport shooting.

Gun safety advocates argue, however, that silencers make it easier for criminals to operate and put the lives of police officers at risk. They also argue that the gun lobby has cynical motivations for wanting to get rid of silencer registration and taxes: Profit.

“NRA leadership and their congressional allies are working behind closed doors to prop up lagging gun sales by making it easier for gun companies to sell silencers,” Feinblatt argued, adding that the bill’s backers “put profits ahead of public safety.”

As Lois Beckett at the Guardian reported recently, American Outdoor Brands, which is the new name for the venerable gun manufacturer Smith & Wesson, recently acquired Gemtech, a company that sells silencers, anticipating the strong possibility that a Trump presidency would lead to deregulation of silencer sales.

“We view this acquisition as somewhat opportunistic, allowing us to enter the suppressor category prior to the potential favorable changes in legislation and at a time when the market is particularly soft,” American Outdoor Brands CEO James Debney said during a shareholder call last week.

Silencers are seen by the gun industry as a great way to recruit new customers, because the devices make guns less scary to children.

“For new or younger shooters, using a silencer means being able to focus on marksmanship fundamentals and enjoy the overall shooting experience with considerably more comfort,” the 2017 catalog for Advanced Armament Corporation explained.

Donald Trump Jr., who is a big fan of silencers, concurs. Last year, in a video interview with Joshua Waldron, the CEO of a silencer manufacturer, Don Jr. said that silencers were great at getting “little kids into the game.”

NRA leaders have argued that the name “silencer” is a misnomer, because the devices muffle but do not eliminate the sound of gunfire. In May, gun lobbyists invited reporters to a demonstration of guns fired with silencers, to show that one can still hear a firearm’s report. Chris Cox, the executive director of the NRA’s lobbying efforts, argued that the movies distort people’s views of silencers, adding, “They’re not silent.”

It’s true that silencers don’t completely silence the sound of a gunshot, but the correct perception that the muffle or distort that sound can be used by kidnappers, robbers or domestic abusers who use guns to control and intimidate their victims. Seeing a silencer on a gun could go a long way towards convincing a victim that the assailant could shoot them without being detected, making the crime victim more likely to comply with an assailant’s demands. It’s also true that the movie images of silencers, accurate or not, are a big selling point with gun customers who are motivated in large part by the glamorization of guns in pop culture.

Gun safety advocates argue that while the silencers don’t completely muffle the sound, they do conceal the sound of gunfire far more than gun lobbyists are letting on. Noting that SEAL Team Six used the devices for stealth when they raided Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan, Americans for Responsible Solutions write that “guns fired with silencers could increase the risk of ambush attacks targeting cops ” and may also make it harder for police to deal with active shooters, because silencers make it more difficult to ascertain the direction of a gunshot. They also point out the grim reality of such cases as California mass shooter Christopher Dorner, who killed four people with 14 shots from a silenced weapon in February 2013, without neighbors even noticing.

The Violence Policy Center released a report on silencers in June noting that requiring people to register silencers has largely been successful in keeping these devices out of criminal hands. However, silencers “have been involved in serious and sometimes deadly crimes that graphically illustrate the threat to public safety.” Many of these cases involved attempted terrorist attacks planned by white supremacists, anti-government radicals or those affiliated with ISIS.

That report also emphasizes one of the big concerns raised by gun safety advocates, which is the worry that silencers will make it easier for mass shooters to kill more people. They cite a March 2011 article in Tactical Weapons magazine, titled “The Science of Silencers,” in which the author explained how American soldiers used silencers in the Afghanistan war.

“If you’re being shot at and you can’t hear the actual gunshot because it’s suppressed and the only thing you hear is the ballistic crack, you’ll think the fire is coming from exactly opposite from where it is,” the writer explains, noting that, “this has caused Taliban to run towards the incoming fire, right at our guys.”

An April poll commissioned by Americans for Responsible Solutions found that 73 percent of gun owners want to keep the restrictions on silencer sales in place. Slipping this regulatory rollback into a bill that, on its surface, addresses the use of federal lands for hunting and fishing suggests that Republicans know that the public has no interest in deregulating silencers, and are trying to sneak this bill through Congress while no one notices. In a news cycle dominated by Trump’s incessant antics, there’s a good chance they will get away with it.

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#1. To: Willie Green (#0)

Cool, I want one. or several.

Si vis pacem, para bellum

Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God.

Never Pick A Fight With An Old Man He Will Just Shoot You He Can't Afford To Get Hurt

"If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went." (Will Rogers)

Stoner  posted on  2017-09-12   9:47:00 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  

#2. To: Willie Green (#0)

“We view this acquisition as somewhat opportunistic, allowing us to enter the suppressor category prior to the potential favorable changes in legislation and at a time when the market is particularly soft,” American Outdoor Brands CEO James Debney said during a shareholder call last week.

C'mon, 0bama was the greatest gun salesman in the history of mankind.

As soon as Hitlery lost the election, gun sales dropped across the board, judging by the drop in background checks.

Big corporations of any kind don't just do nothing when their revenue stream evaporates. They try to find new ways to make money.

Tooconservative  posted on  2017-09-12   12:09:27 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  

#3. To: Willie Green, sneakypete, Stoner (#0)

Willie's article quoting the corporate gun honcho saying that "sales are soft" got me thinking. Just how much have gun sales declined now that Trump has been in the WH for while?

MotleyFool had this piece on gun stocks in the last week:

Why Gun Stocks Plunged in August

Gun stocks dropped like a rock across the board in August. Sturm, Ruger & Company Inc (NYSE:RGR), American Outdoor Brands Corp (NASDAQ:AOBC), and Vista Outdoor Inc (NYSE:VSTO) all dropped double digits, according to data provided by S&P Global Market Intelligence, as a wave of bad news hit the industry. 

The domestic gun industry is actually suffering from operating conditions that are too favorable, which sounds a little crazy on the surface. But when you dive into the numbers it's entirely predictable that gun stocks are having a terrible 2017. 

What happened in August

The drop in gun stocks last month was largely due to confirmation that people aren't buying as many guns as they were a year ago. Sturm, Ruger & Company's sales fell 22% to $131.9 million in the second quarter of 2017 and net income fell 53% to $10.2 million. Vista Outdoor's fiscal first quarter sales for the quarter ended July 2, 2017, fell 9.8% to $568.7 million and net income dropped 42.8% to $16.7 million. American Outdoor reported a 3.6% increase in sales for the fiscal fourth quarter ended April 30, 2017, the most recent data available, but that included the acquisition of Taylor Brands, Crimson Trace, and UST Brands in the past year. 

The macro data reinforces the decline in sales as well. Purchases run through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System dropped from 2.2 million in July 2016 to 1.7 million in July 2017. There's little urgency to acquire a gun with President Trump in the White House and Republicans controlling Congress, so sales will naturally drop. 

The irony of gun stocks

What's odd about gun companies is that the drop in sales in 2017 was easily predictable. There's typically a surge in gun sales when either a Democratic presidential candidate wins office or when there's a mass shooting. It's sad but true that the threat of restrictions is really what drives gun sales in the U.S. 

The fact that Republicans will control both the White House and Congress for the next 18 months and the executive branch until 2021 puts significantly less urgency on gun purchases. And with a favorable policy environment for the next few years, it's unlikely sales will spike soon.  . . .

Free advice: this would not be a good time to buy a gun store. Buy a liquor store or pot dispensary in a Blue state instead.

Tooconservative  posted on  2017-09-12   12:17:13 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  

#4. To: Tooconservative (#3)

Remington lays off 55 more in Upstate NY amid slump in gun sales (September 8, 2017)

That was just 4 days ago... on Friday...
and in addition to another 122 who got the axe 6 months ago...

"MAGA" my ass...

Willie Green  posted on  2017-09-12   12:41:35 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  

#5. To: Willie Green (#4)

I think the gun industry never missed a president as much as they miss 0bama, their best salesman ever.

Tooconservative  posted on  2017-09-12   15:10:57 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  

#6. To: Willie Green (#0)

After 60+ years of shooting non-suppressed weapons,and touching off a few explosives along the way also,I don't need no stinking silencer. I can barely hear the damn thing,anyhow.

In the entire history of the world,the only nations that had to build walls to keep their own citizens from leaving were those with leftist governments.

sneakypete  posted on  2017-09-12   19:16:24 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  

#7. To: sneakypete (#6)

I don't need no stinking silencer. I can barely hear the damn thing,anyhow.

As good an anecdotal argument for legalizing suppressors as I've heard yet.

Tooconservative  posted on  2017-09-13   8:34:52 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  

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