The first “Silencers Are Legal Shoot” event took place on April 28, 2012 at the Elm Fork Shooting Range in Dallas, Texas. Every major silencer manufacturer brought their latest products. Many smaller companies traveled from far and wide to show their wares. An estimated 3,000 shooters began arriving early in the morning. Participants saw the latest in sound suppressor technology, and were able to experience it by sending live rounds downrange all day long! This event wasn’t called the Silencers are Legal Show; it was the Silencers are Legal Shoot!
Elm Fork was the perfect place to host the shoot. The range offers nearly 470 acres of total shooting area, and the Silencers Are Legal Shoot occupied multiple rifle and pistol ranges next to each other arranged in a long, jagged firing line. New improvements to the facility include covered firing ranges so shooters are shaded from the Texas sun. On this perfect Saturday morning, with a bit of cloud cover and warm temperatures, shooters attached suppressors to guns of every type. Rounds were fired downrange almost constantly. With plenty of parking, lots of helpful range officers and staff in bright red shirts, and plenty of water in large tubs of ice, everyone agreed that the event was well organized. Safety protocols were strictly enforced, and experienced shooters helped the range officers by keeping a watchful eye on newcomers. No hearing protection was required! One manufacturer did warn those in the immediate area to cover their ears before firing a certain demo gun. Was their suppressor design a failure? No! It was mounted to a massive Barrett M82A1 semi-automatic .50BMG sniper rifle. The roof and walls of the range amplified the sound of the shot somewhat, but it was still impressive to stand right next to the big Barrett .50BMG and not feel any concussion from the muzzle blast as it fired.
The Tactical Range was one of the biggest highlights for many participants. Here, at the far right end of the firing line, machine guns heated up silencers to punishing temperatures. Many participants fired a sound suppressed gun and a machine gun for the first time, with a single pull of the trigger! There were grins and giggles all around as men and women shot full auto guns of all sizes and calibers. Participants wanting to compare “cans” before making a purchase could bring their own personally owned firearms and try shooting them with various models attached. Judging reliability, sound reduction, and the prices of the various models, some started up vigorous technical conversations with company representatives trying to reach a final decision. Others just wanted to try shooting quietly one time, and found themselves quickly sold on the idea. Attorneys specializing in National Firearms Act law were on hand to answer questions and offer their services writing NFA specific trusts. These trusts are now universally recognized as the best way to begin the long process of legally possessing a silencer in the 39 states that allow them. The NRA-ILA had a booth staffed with friendly, knowledgeable folks ready to answer questions about the NRA’s support of suppressor friendly legislation across the country.
The Silencers Are Legal Shoot is the brainchild of the American Silencer Association, a trade association formed by Advanced Armament Co., Gemtech, and Silencer Co./SWR. Under normal circumstances, these companies are competitors whose product lines try to beat each other’s prices and features for civilian sales, law enforcement and military contracts. They joined forces and formed the ASA as a trade association to educate the public about the benefits of silencers, lobby the remaining 11 states to legalize them, and call attention to the problems with NFA regulations and BATFE’s handling of NFA forms. Currently, there are only nine full-time examiners and one “borrowed” examiner handling all NFA transfers in the entire United States. These 10 examiners currently face a backlog of approximately 26,000 Form 4 transfer requests. Because each form represents a $200 tax stamp payment, approximately $5.2 million in revenue from Form 4 transfers now sits in the backlog. The BATFE predicts that American gun owners will send over 70,000 NFA transfer forms this year. If the prediction holds true, it represents an enormous 25% sales growth for silencers since just last year.
Why are so many shooters becoming interested in suppressing their firearms? Hollywood movies always portray silencers as the tools of spies and assassins. Hunters and conservationists believed that poachers could use silencers to get away with taking game animals out of season. Education is the antidote to these misconceptions. Military and law enforcement units are adopting silencers in large numbers, and more civilian shooters are becoming educated about the realities of what these devices can and cannot do. The Hollywood movies are starting to look pretty silly by comparison. Fears of suppressor use in poaching are unjustified. Whether states allow the use of silencers for hunting or not, poachers intending to break the law are not willing to go through the arduous legal process to own these devices. If they want to take game illegally with a silent weapon, most of them buy a $250 hunting crossbow from their local sporting goods store with no background check at all. For those who follow the law, suppressor ownership gives us a way to minimize noise pollution at shooting ranges near residential areas, protect our ears while hunting or defending our homes, decrease our firearms’ felt recoil, and even increase accuracy.
Cheaper Than Dirt! will continue posting articles in the coming weeks showcasing some of the coolest new products we saw at this event. The Silencers Are Legal Shoot proved that you don’t have to make a lot of noise to have a blast at the range!
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