House Republicans Could Vote to Make Future Shootings Worse

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

Republicans will never support even the thinnest measure of gun control even after the worst shooting in modern history or a shooting in which they are the victims, but they might make future mass shootings more deadly.

House Republicans are scheduled to pass a bill this week that will make it legal to buy silencers in every state and remove restrictions from purchasing them.

The GOP-sponsored bill, the Sportsmen Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act (SHARE Act), would remove gun silencers from the list of items regulated by the 1934 National Firearms Act. Under current law, silencers , which reduce the noise emitted from firearms, are regulated as strictly as machine guns and short-barreled rifles.

The National Rifle Association’s top legislative priority this year has been to roll back the regulations on what they call noise suppressors. The gun lobby claims the restrictions are costly and unnecessary since silencers are rarely used to commit crimes.

Silencers are "rarely used to commit crimes" because they're illegal in the largest states from New York to California. They're also tightly controlled even in states where they are currently legal.

The amendment to remove silencers from the list of regulated weapons was sponsored by Representative Jeff Duncan (R-SC) who dubbed it the "Hearing Protection Act" because, according to him, it will protect hunters from deafness. That's what earplugs and headphones are for, but Duncan's amendment will do more than that; it will also remove and refund the fees paid buy those who buy silencers.

The GOP bill would preempt all state and local laws, because they love federalism, right? Maybe not so much.

Even if the vote on their silencer bill is delayed this week, I don't expect they'll give it up entirely. The bill was first introduced in January of this year so they've clearly been very patient. They won't be happy until it is legal to purchase rocket launchers.

  • Christopher Foxx

    They won’t be happy until it is legal to purchase rocket launchers.

    Why shouldn’t rocket launchers be legal? They’re rarely used to commit crimes.

  • Badgerite

    Yeah. It’s all about the “hunters” and their hearing. What were those paramilitary types “hunting” in Charlottesville?

  • Aynwrong

    I woke up this morning around 6:30 and the living room TV was already on MSNBC. The headline was “50 dead and hundreds injured and wounded in mass shooting.” All I could do was stare at the screen, shake my head and go about my usual morning routine. I shook my head, put on a pot of coffee and took a shower. I felt no shock, anger or outrage. This really bothers me. I don’t want to be numb to this. I don’t want to get used to this. This should not be normal. But it is.

    The majority of Americans have made a moral decision. They’ve decided to accept this. Either by continuously voting for R’s or by simply not voting and allowing a party in total thrall to the NRA to take enough power despite it’s insistence on relentlessly enabling this.

    As for the 2nd Amendment fetishists, they have decided that this carnage is the price worth paying to maintain their ability to purchase and own and play with what amounts to their favorite toys. As moral calculations go, it’s about as selfish and uncaring as one can get.

    • JMAshby

      I woke up at 9 a.m. and saw the news and more or less did the same thing. I saw that nearly 60 were killed and over 500 were injured, but I took a shower and went to the grocery and visited the salad bar where nothing seemed out of the ordinary because, in America, this is ordinary.

      The only thing that’s surprising to me is that this doesn’t happen even more often than it already does.

    • Georgie

      I know what you mean.

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    • Dread_Pirate_Mathius

      Personally, I’d be happy to round up every gun on the planet and melt them down into plowshares, but I had a conversation with a friend who grew up in the Soviet Union which I thought was interesting. I’m not entirely on board with his conclusion, but it’s a different and more nuanced take than we usually see, and I thought I’d share:

      Take the number of gun deaths and remove adult non-mentally ill suicides from the number. He does consider these to be “gun deaths,” per say even though they were deaths-by-gun because they aren’t violence on others. The point here being that these people have a right to kill themselves and the tool of choice is irrelevant. Just like we don’t regulate “death by obesity,” he argues, it’s not a right of society to interfere with the conscious choices of people with regards to what they do with their own bodies (see also: abortion) – even if that choice is to kill themselves. (I could debate this for hours, but let’s accept it for now and move on).

      Let’s make our lives easy and call 15k dead per year from guns (ex suicide). How does this stack up with other civilized 1st world countries WITH strong gun control. His comparison is Japan and the UK. It turns out we are roughly in the middle of the pack (I verified his assertion… there’s a lot of wiggle room, but as a general claim, it’s reasonable/plausible. We certainly aren’t an outlier). But for the sake of argument, let’s put ourselves toward the higher end of the pack and say that our gun-fetish culture constitutes 1 extra (criminal / violent) death per 100k per year = ~3,250 deaths / year. (I could debate this for hours, but let’s accept it for now and move on).

      The question then becomes: What is the benefit of having this gun culture. And he stipulated that the “it’s our culture” and “I love to hunt” arguments are flaming bullshit. He suggests (again, he grew up in the USSR) that there is a LOW chance of actual real government oppression or a coup attempt, but it is non-zero. But, because of the armed and trigger happy population, the chance of a successful coup or government oppression is essentially zero in America. (see also, the perennial favorite of Hitler disarming the Jews). Ask your self, generally, does this make sense. It’s probably true, but the question is only one of extent – just how much does this do to keep the gov’ment in line? I’d argue very little, but we have had a very tranquil (relatively) 200+ years. Could you foresee a lunatic strongman coming to power on the back of a cult of narcissistic personality and proclaiming himself President For Life? What’s to stop that? He asserts that the presence of so many armed citizens means that it cannot happen here. (I could debate this for hours, but let’s accept it for now and move on).

      So, with all that said, his argument is, basically, that we’re accepting the loss of ~3k lives / year as an insurance policy against a coup or government oppression. Considering the things he has seen in his life, this is a serious consideration. We take for granted that the government is our friend (generally), but world wide and historically, that has not always been a given (and it would have been heavily on the Founders’ minds). Considering how many people die in cars each year, and how many eat themselves to death, and how many drown, this number becomes a rounding error in terms of causes of death nation wide. It’s fewer than die of diarrhea each year.

      Again, I don’t really buy all of this, but it’s interesting. I’m sure I’ll be attacked for sharing a non-orthodox view, but I don’t think it helps anyone to adhere so strictly to the simplistic narrative and write off everyone who disagrees with them. There is some logic here.


      TL;DR: guns are a hedge against fascism. When you adjust for suicides and compare vs other countries where they don’t have guns, you see that the number of dead each year as a premium due to our gun worship culture is actually fairly small in the scheme of things. Thus some would argue (and I’m not among them) that it’s a societal price worth paying.

      • ninjaf

        Personally, I think the issue is urban vs. rural gun ownership.

        If you live in a rural area, you probably need a gun. If for no other reason than for protection in the habitats of dangerous animals we are displacing (bears, bobcats, mountain lions, and even deer [yes, I know a person who has been attacked by a deer and more than one person who has been sitting in their car and had their car attacked by a deer]). In the city, you just don’t have those kinds of instances.

        I disagree that the only thing keeping us from authoritarian rule is our ability to own a gun. But it does give the tri-cornered hat cosplayers a conversation starter for their gatherings. Our government has shown that it is still responsive to citizens using the pen without any need for the proverbial sword (just look at the difficulty that has come of the attempts to repeal the ACA for evidence). We need to get the ballot into the hands of ALL citizens and use it. That will protect our country more than an armed citizenry would.

        • Christopher Foxx

          We need to get the ballot into the hands of ALL citizens and use it. That will protect our country more than an armed citizenry would.


          It’s not the 2nd Amendment fetishists who keep the American government from becoming oppressive. It’s the voters.

          • ninjaf

            My argument to them is that, in our country, if we have to take up arms to get our government to respond, what we know to be America has already been lost. There is nothing left to defend.

          • Christopher Foxx

            Along a similar vein, this is why I HATE when folks say things like “Feel indebted to a soldier. They’re what protects your freedoms.”

            Wrong. It’s the courts that do that.

      • Truth is that all the guns in the hands of civilians wouldn’t make any difference against a dictator who has the military under his command. It made a difference 200 years ago when the standard issue was a musket and cannon’s were rare. But even a bunch of AR-15’s can’t do crap against tanks, jets, etc. Our best hope is our three branched system and the Rule of Law, which is what what makes Trump so goddamned dangerous. He and the people who voted for him don’t think the Rule of Law applies to them.

      • Aynwrong

        “Could you foresee a lunatic strongman coming to power on the back of a cult of narcissistic personality and proclaiming himself President For Life?”

        Ironic. Considering who is currently living in the White House and who his biggest supporters are.

        No disrespect meant towards you or your friend but I don’t accept any of that reasoning. First off, if you remove suicides from the death toll (I myself wouldn’t but for the sake of argument), I thought it was 20,000 lives per year but perhaps it is closer to 15,000. This is roughly five 9/11’s every year. We invaded two foreign nations because of a loss 5 times less but one half of our political system categorically refuses to even respond to this. Hell, we lost less soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan combined than this. The loss of life is simply unacceptable.

        Second, I may be wrong about this the mass shooting phenomenon seems somewhat unique to the U.S. I highly doubt it’s because America is somehow generating a more violent breed of human than the rest of the world. It make far more sense to me that it’s the availability of incredibly powerful weaponry.

        As far as the idiotic “Hitler disarming the Jews” argument is concerned, every Jew in Western Europe could have been equipped with a personal arsenal of Tommy guns and I doubt it would have made much of a difference against the Wehrmacht and the Luftwaffe.

      • katanahamon

        “In One Year on Average (all ages)

        114,994 people in America are shot in murders, assaults, suicides & suicide attempts, unintentional shootings, or by police intervention.>

        33,880 people die from gun violence

        11,564 murdered
        21,037 die from suicide
        544 killed unintentionally
        468 killed by legal intervention
        267 die but intent was unknown
        81,114 people survive gun injuries:

        60,041 injured in an attack
        3,700 survive a suicide attempt
        16,428 shot unintentionally
        945 people are shot by legal intervention
        Millions of guns are sold every year in “no questions asked” transactions. Experts estimate that 40 percent of guns now sold in America are done so without a Brady background check. Take action with our Finish the Job campaign now. “