Gunfire is loud! That is probably the most off-putting aspect to a newcomer to the world of shooting. The sound is so loud that it forces some people to become a spectator far away, fearful to step up to the firing line and give it a try. Despite hearing protection, gunshots are still loud!
If you have not heard gunfire, stand directly in front of an amplified speaker at the loudest rock concert you can imagine. Gunfire is a lot louder than that, as you can see from the examples below. These ear-piercing, high dB gunshots not attenuated are absolutely damaging to human hearing.
How loud is loud?
The decibel (dB) is a logarithmic unit of measurement for sound pressure.
10 dB Calm Human Breath
60 dB Hair Dryer
100 dB Lawn Mower
110 dB Rock Concert
171 dB .30-06 Rifle Being Fired
Every shooter knows this and understands that hearing protection is mandatory; if you go without, you will suffer hearing loss or even permanent deafness. It is possible to suffer hearing loss while wearing hearing protection, this is why I recommend doubling up. I wear in-ear and over the ear devices for maximum hearing protection.
What can be done about the noise to make shooting safer and more enjoyable? Devices called firearm suppressors can be attached to the end of gun barrels to reduce the sound by about 30 db. Hearing protection would still be required with the reduction in sound, but it would be more comfortable and hearing loss less likely.
The federal government stands in the way of obtaining a suppressor. The National Firearms Act (NFA) requires purchasers of suppressors to pay a $200 tax stamp and submit an application for an intensive background check that can take up to nine months to complete. This massively increases costs and burdens on consumers to buy an accessory that allows their firearm use to be safer and more enjoyable.
This provision of the NFA is ridiculous and does not support firearm safety. The government’s own agency, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has determined that a single noise over 140 dB causes hearing loss. Why not allow people to buy suppressors freely like most other gun accessories?
Congress is hearing the complaints of gun owners and the suppressor industry. The Hearing Protection Act of 2017 was introduced in the Senate by Mike Crapo with co-sponsors Jerry Moran and Rand Paul as S.59. In the House Of Representatives Jeff Duncan and John Carter along with 42 co-sponsors introduced a bill as H.R. 367.
These bills would remove suppressors from the NFA, eliminating the $200 tax and the enhanced nine month background check. With a Republican president and congress, the shooting community is optimistic that these bills will pass and we will have the Liberty to purchase suppressors that will make shooting safer and more enjoyable.