From Our Friends At VCDL

Now that the Virginia House has approved HB 961, it goes to the Senate for hearings. This bill would ban “assault weapons” (sic), standard capacity magazines, suppressors, and bump stocks.

The hearings on the bill start today.

From VCDL:

Turnout needed!  Monday, February 17, at 8 am, the Senate Judiciary committee is going to hear HB 961, Delegate Mark Levine’s “assault weapon”/higher-capacity magazine/suppressor/ bump stock ban!

This is a key opportunity to defeat HB 961 and there is a good chance we can do so!

BREAKING:  VCDL has heard there will be an attempt to modify HB 961 to help save it from being defeated.  HB 961 is a disaster and cannot be fixed.  It must be killed in its entirety!

I suggest getting there early, as we will hopefully flood the room and beyond.

After going through the metal detectors, continue straight ahead and go through the glass doors.  Make an immediate right, walk down the hall, and make another immediate right to get to Senate Committee Room A.

Here’s what the current version of HB 961 does:

Makes possession of a large number of semi-automatic guns, classified as an “assault weapon” by this bill, a felony.  This includes many popular rifles, handguns, and shotguns!  You can keep any “assault weapons” you currently have, but you can’t buy any more.  The wording is so poor that you probably won’t be able to even fix a broken “assault weapon,” as each part is classified as an “assault weapon”!  Gun dealers in Virginia won’t be able to sell an “assault weapon” or any parts for one to anybody, include to gun owners in other states.  This will do severe financial harm to Virginia gun dealers. 

Bans magazines that hold more than 12 rounds of ammunition.  There is NO grandfathering!  Possession of such a magazine (keeping it at home only) after January 1, 2021 will be a Class 1 misdemeanor.  However, transporting such a magazine is a felony!

Bans suppressors, making possession of one a felony.  You can keep any suppressors you currently have, but you cannot purchase any more and you won’t be able to fix them if they break.

Bans bump stocks.  Any that you have must be destroyed by January 1, 2021.  Possession of one after that date is a felony.

Northam Doesn’t Want To Let A Crisis Go To Waste

When Gov. Ralph Northam (D-VA) isn’t trying to figure out if it was actually him in the picture wearing the Klan hood, he is pushing gun control. Now he is taking a page from the Rahm Emanuel playbook and calling a special legislative session of the Virginia General Assembly to push for more gun control after the murders in Virginia Beach.

From the Roanoke Times:

Northam was joined by Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax and Attorney General Mark Herring, all Democrats, at a news conference with other Democratic leaders to challenge the Republicans who control the General Assembly and have repeatedly stifled efforts to consider any form of gun control.

“It’s time for decisive action,” Northam said. “Let Virginia show the nation that we can respond to tragedy with decisive action.”

Most gun-control bills have failed in previous sessions of the legislature, including those that would broaden the ability of local governments to limit firearms in public buildings, mandate universal background checks, limit purchases to one handgun per month and allow authorities to seize the weapons of a person found to be a threat to themselves or others. The bills have usually been killed in committee and not progressed to the full legislature for a vote.

Northam said he wants the General Assembly to debate and vote on the bills.

“These are common sense pieces of legislation we have introduced them year after year,” he said. “They have never received a fair hearing. … I want these pieces of common sense gun safety legislation to get to the floor and let these individuals elected by you, the people, to come to the floor and cast their vote.”

Gun control activists are also calling for a ban on “high capacity magazines” (sic). Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment (R-James City County) said in an interview that “none of the failed legislation met standards for merits, practical application, and efficacy.” That said, Norment might be open to restricting magazines to 10 rounds.

Specifically, Norment said he expects the General Assembly to tackle large-capacity or extended magazines.

“An extended magazine is optical, but does it change the outcome, I’m not sure, but it’s something the citizens like this would say at least it’s an incremental effort to do something,” Norment said. “At least that is an issue that it’s very easy to resolve.”

Norment did vote against a similar ban earlier this year in committee. Those pushing for a mag ban ought to view Joe Huffman’s video on reload times made after Gabby Giffords was shot in Tucson.

As to Northam’s proposals, let’s examine whether they would have done anything to have stopped the murders in Virginia Beach.

Limiting firearms in municipal buildings? The killer was a municipal employee of Virginia Beach and had access to secured sections of the municipal building. He would have also known how to avoid any metal detection devices.

Universal background checks? The guy passed background checks on both of his firearms.

Limit purchases to one handgun per month?  He bought one handgun in 2016 and the other in 2018.

Red flag law? The killer had no history of violent actions, interacted normally with another employee in a bathroom before starting his killing spree, had no disciplinary problems at work, and had received a satisfactory evaluation on his last performance evaluation at work.

Finally, with regard to President Trump and his “I don’t like them” attitude towards suppressors, the killer purchased his suppressor legally. That means he bought a highly regulated product, paid a $200 tax, had to submit fingerprints and pictures, and go through a BATFE background check while waiting probably 6-9 months before taking possession of his suppressor.

Virginia gun owners have a fight on their hands if they don’t want to become the New Jersey of the South. When the Republican Majority Leader is waffling on standard capacity magazines, it is time to start to put the pressure on.

For My Massachusetts Readers – Hearing On Suppressors Today

I should have gotten this out yesterday but better late than never. The Massachusetts Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security will be holding hearings on two bills that would seek to legalize suppressor ownership there.

From the American Suppressor Association who will be testifying at the hearings:

On Thursday, November 16th at 11:00 AM in Room A-1,
the Massachusetts Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland
Security will hear two bills which seek to legalize suppressor ownership
in Massachusetts. S. 1317, and, S. 1340,
would replace the current law that prohibits the possession of
suppressors by non-manufacturers with language that allows private
individuals to own and possess suppressors so long as they are not (1)
prohibited persons; (2) committing a violent felony; (3) committing a
crime of violence against a family member; or (4) possessing or selling
controlled substances.
The
American Suppressor Association will be on hand to testify in support
of these bills, but we need your help! If you are a Massachusetts
resident, please attend the hearing to show your support. Also,
using the contact form below, please contact members of the Joint
Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security and politely urge them
to vote in support of S. 1317 and S. 1340. Do this, even if you plan to
attend the hearing in person. 

View our entire blog post HERE and our testimony submitted to the committee HERE.

Outside His Area Of Expertise

Former FBI Assistant Director Chris Swecker was interviewed on CNBC on Monday regarding the mass casualty event in Las Vegas. Swecker was the former number three person in the FBI and was probably called upon by CNBC’s John Harwood because of that.

Listen to what he has to say about suppressors and semiautomatic rifles with ugly cosmetics.

Swecker said that civilians – that’s you and me in his LEO-speak – have no need to own suppressors. He also said fully automatic weapons are illegal and that AR-15s are way too easy to convert to full auto. He wondered “what rational purpose is there for 10 different ‘assault weapons’ (sic) in the hands of one person.”

One must wonder how someone with this level of ignorance rises to the level he did at the FBI. Fully automatic weapons are legal if made before the May 19, 1986 (Hughes Amendment) so long as they are registered under the NFA and the owner paid the tax and underwent the requisite background checks. Furthermore, ARs are not easy to convert to full auto unless you have a machine shop and the proper parts. Bumpfire is still not full auto no matter how fast you can dump a mag.

You also have to wonder where his law enforcement expertise lies. Was he a street guy infiltrating motorcycle gangs and fighting violent crime on the streets?

If his LinkedIn page is any indication, his law enforcement expertise lay in white collar crimes and especially financial and cyber crime. From his LinkedIn page where he lays out his expertise both in the FBI and in his subsequent career.

Experience

 In my field it is unethical to practice outside the area of your competence. Given his entire career is and was devoted to white collar crime, financial irregularities, fraud, and the like, Swecker is outside the area of his competence when talking about firearms and violent crime. If he dealt with terrorism, it was regarding the funding of terrorism and not how to rescue someone being held hostage.

If I were to guess why CNBC called upon Chris Swecker to talk about the events in Las Vegas, it is because they knew of him from his role in investigating and prosecuting financial irregularities and thought they could parlay his old position as No. 3 at the FBI into something newsworthy.  In my opinion, they failed.

Can You Still Hear A Suppressed Rifle From 500 Yards Away?

The answer to the title question is yes.

Rebel Silencers made an ad hoc video on the level of sound suppression on a suppressed rifle. It was done quickly and the production values are not pristine. The microphone picks up wind like nobody’s business. That said, it does a good job of illustrating that a suppressor only lowers the db level and doesn’t eliminate it.

Here was their setup. One guy shot an AR, both unsuppressed and suppressed, from a ridge about 500 yards away from the person listening. The guy listening was a shop machinist who probably didn’t have the world’s best hearing. He stood in the bed of a pickup, closed his eyes, and turned around many times so he didn’t know if was facing or not facing the shooter. He was asked to in the direction of the heard shot. He did it both times with reasonable accuracy.

Is this a perfect test under controlled laboratory conditions? Absolutely not. Does it illustrate that you can both detect the sound and the direction of the suppressed gunfire? Absolutely yes.

Those who have an axe to grind against guns and/or the Hearing Protection Act will say this video proves nothing. I would disagree and say that it shows that the average untrained person can indeed detect suppressed gunfire and that any “shot detectors” would also be able to detect the direction of the gunfire.

You know your member of Congress is under pressure from the anti-gun, anti-suppressor forces to kill the SHARE Act in the wake the mass casualty event in Las Vegas. Now is the time to make your voice heard again and again in favor of passage of these bills.

Finally Confirmed – S&W Buys Suppressor Maker Gemtech (Updated)

In what has to be considered the worst kept secret on the Interwebs, it was finally confirmed today that Smith & Wesson division of American Outdoor Brands Corp. is buying suppressor maker Gemtech (Gemini Technologies). The Firearm Blog announced it as breaking news on Sunday, July 2nd, and many people posted this to Facebook including myself.

Given that AOBC is a public company, SEC Regulation FD requires “companies to distribute material information in a manner reasonably designed to get that information out to the general public broadly and non-exclusively.” A purchase of this magnitude would certainly have been “material”. I kept looking for a news release on AOBC’s investor relations website as well as for a 8-K filing on the SEC’s website regarding this purchase. 8-K filings usually are simultaneous with new releases though a company has up to four business days to make the filing. I could not find anything official on the purchase of Gemtech.

While I assumed that there was indeed a transaction that was going to take place, not having official confirmation told me one of two things. First, that the transaction wasn’t a done deal yet and maybe there was a snag in the negotiations. Second, it could have meant – and I think this is what happened here – that someone, somewhere jumped the gun on the announcement and violated a non-disclosure agreement.

I think the timing is right for both companies involved. S&W competitors Ruger and SIG both now produce their own suppressor lines. So, too, does Remington with their AAC division. The purchase of Gemtech now allows S&W into the game at a significant level without having to start from scratch. It may also signify a vote of confidence on the part of AOBC and S&W that the Hearing Protection Act will pass as either a stand alone bill or as part of the SHARE Act.

According to Gemtech’s website, they have been in the suppressor business since 1976. While I don’t know how the ownership of Gemtech is structured, I’m guessing that what we are seeing here is a situation similar to that of Crimson Trace. The founder(s) have reached a point where they want to relax a bit and this gives them the opportunity to cash out while still maintaining a presence. Thus, the purchase of Gemtech by S&W becomes a win-win situation for all involved.

The official release is below and notes that the current CEO of Gemtech, Ron Martinez, will stay on as General Manager.

SPRINGFIELD, Mass., July 5, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — American Outdoor Brands Corporation (NASDAQ Global Select: AOBC), a leading manufacturer of firearms and a provider of quality accessory products for the shooting, hunting, and rugged outdoor enthusiast, today announced that its firearms business, Smith & Wesson Corp., has agreed to acquire substantially all of the assets of Gemini Technologies, Incorporated (“Gemtech”), a provider of high quality suppressors and accessories for the consumer, law enforcement, and military markets.

James Debney, President and CEO of American Outdoor Brands, said, “Gemtech is widely recognized for producing some of the finest rifle and pistol suppressors in the market. Gemtech’s strong product development capabilities, combined with our experience in brand management and our manufacturing expertise, will help us to efficiently develop both firearms and suppressors, minimizing our time to market for both product categories. We view this acquisition as opportunistic, allowing us to enter the suppressor category, which resonates strongly with our core firearm consumer, at a time when the market is particularly soft. These elements combine to make Gemtech an excellent fit with our long term strategy.”

The company intends to complete the acquisition of Gemtech utilizing cash on hand and expects the transaction to close this summer. Ron Martinez, President of Gemtech, will continue in his leadership role as General Manager, heading up the company’s strong team located in Eagle, Idaho.

UPDATE: On Monday I had written Liz Sharp, VP for Investor Relations at AOBC, inquiring why there was no release on the purchase of Gemtech and asked if the info had leaked prior to the official release. I got a response back last night after I had written this post. It seems that since AOBC didn’t buy Gemtech but just their assets it was not considered “material”.

Hello, John, and thank you for the inquiry. Yes, Smith & Wesson will purchase the assets of Gemtech in a transaction that we plan to close this summer. Since the transaction is an asset purchase and not deemed to be material, we announced the transaction internally to our employees prior to the holiday, and externally via a press release this morning. … We believe this is a great fit with our strategy. Please let me know if I can help further, and thanks again for the inquiry.

Ideologues Versus Science

There is currently a battle going on between anti-science ideologues and those committed to a health-related change in the laws based upon science. You have doctors, public health advocates, and civil rights advocates on one side and you have the New York Times and anti-health prohibitionists on the other side. I am talking about the battle between those for and opposed to the Hearing Protection Act of 2017.

The New York Times weighed in the battle with an absurd editorial entitled “Echoes of Gunfire Hurt Tender N.R.A. Ears”. As per their usual, they conflated the number of deaths attributed to the use of a firearm to include intentional deaths (suicides), they misrepresented the intent of Congress for adding suppressors to the National Firearms Act, and they created a strawman by insisting the public would be at risk because “ShotSpotters” would not be able to hear gunfire.

The annual tally of 30,000-plus gun deaths accounts for just a tiny fraction of the total shots fired, most of which miss their targets but terrorize neighborhoods. Amid the lethal cacophony, the police in more than 90 cities here and abroad seek to reach the scene of the latest gun troubles more quickly by using an audio detection system called ShotSpotter, which triangulates the sound of gunfire onto computer maps. Police officers in major cities hail these precise early alarms of where the latest shooting is.

Yet despite these advances, the National Rifle Association argues, self-servingly, that noisy guns are a public health hazard. With the help of supporters like President Trump’s son Donald Jr., a gun hobbyist, it wants to roll back an 80-year-old federal law that tightly controls the sale of firearm silencers. Immune to irony, the N.R.A.’s congressional friends have introduced a measure called the Hearing Protection Act, which contends that the sound of gunfire is hard on the ears of gun owners.

“What about the rest of us?” the nation’s unarmed majority might well ask. When it comes to public health, the noisier a gun is, the better the chances for innocent bystanders to hit the ground and for police officers to apprehend the shooter.

I guess reading the Washington Post is beneath the editorial board of the New York Times. The Post reported only four days earlier that the CEO of ShotSpotter said their devices had detected suppressed gunfire in the past and would be able to detect it in the future with some fine-tuning.

Then there is Mark Kelly aka Mr. Gabby Giffords of Americans for Responsible Solutions (sic) who has been leading the charge against suppressors.

From a fundraising email:

One of those bills would lift restrictions on the sale of firearm silencers.

Now, I don’t want to give the impression that firearm silencers work like you see them in the movies — where someone fires a gun and it wouldn’t wake a person sleeping in the same room.

But silencers do suppress sound and light when a weapon is discharged, and that makes them attractive accessories for criminals who want to conceal their crimes.

Attractive accessories for criminals? Really? Actually, criminals want to scare the shit out of you with the noise of a firearm report because it tends to make victims more compliant.

You would think someone who had been around jet engines like Kelly would have an appreciation for the damage that loud noises do to hearing. I know I do because every day for me is like a hot summer night in Mississippi where the crickets, cicadas, and tree frogs keep up an incessant noise. That is what tinnitus sounds like to sufferers like me.

On the rational, scientific side of this debate are groups like Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership. They have just released a position paper in favor of suppressors to prevent hearing loss. The four primary authors of the paper are all board-certified physicians specializing in otolaryngology or ear, nose, and throat issues. The following is from their executive summary of the paper:

Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) is a real public health problem:

The causal relationship between loud noise exposure and irreversible hearing loss has long been
recognized by medicine and the U.S. government.

NIHL is permanent and untreatable. Prevention is the only possible intervention.


Demonstrable need:

NIHL is the most prevalent service-connected disability among Veterans.

Per the CDC, 15% of adults aged 18 and over (or nearly 38 million American) have hearing problems.

Over 100 million Americans who own guns are at risk for gunshot-induced NIHL. Auditory injuries are
sustained by bystanders the same as by shooters.

Nearly all gunshots exceed the noise threshold for instant damage to the hearing cells of the inner ear.
And their explosive blast generates 1,000 times the force on the eardrum than the noise itself.


Benefit of suppressors:

Muzzle blast sound levels from most firearms range from 140 to over 170 decibels. 120 decibels is
considered the maximum safe level for short exposures (the intensity of a car horn 3 feet away). Ear
plugs and/or ear muffs only reduce noise by 20-30 decibels.

Evidence supporting the need for greater use of firearms suppressors comes from the Occupational Safety
and Health Administration, the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communicative Disorders, the
Centers for Disease Control, as well as academic and military research.

Muzzle-mounted suppressors are vastly superior to ear protectors, providing 50% greater noise reduction.
Only suppressors can make most modern firearms safe for hearing, as noise at gun ranges routinely
reaches 160 decibels.

I would urge readers to study the position paper issued by Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership. It provides great graphics and is extensively sourced. Moreover, unlike most doctor’s handwriting, it is both readable and understandable!

Our first suppressor arrived this week after a wait of over three-fourths of a year. As I said in that post, can you think of any other consumer product for the health and safety of both the purchaser and the general public for which you have to ask the government for permission to take possession of it on top of paying $200 for the privilege? It is time for Congress to act on the established science of hearing loss and pass the Hearing Protection Act.

272 Days

It took the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives a total of 272 days to approve the Form 4 for our new suppressor. I say our because it is in the name of the trust that the Complementary Spouse and I set up for this purpose.

It took a total of 279 day or nine months, six days to be notified that we had been approved.

Regardless of whether it was 279 days or 272 days, it took over three-fourths of a year to be approved to take possession of a product that we had already for paid in full.

Think about that for a minute. Can you think of any other consumer product for the health and safety of both the purchaser and the general public for which you have to ask the government for permission to take possession of it on top of paying $200 for the privilege? I really can’t.

For enquiring minds, it is a SilencerCo Omega in .30 caliber with a .22 muzzle break  brake on order. The suppressor was purchased from Tar Heel State Firearms outside of Charlotte. They were very helpful throughout the whole process.

Is This The Best They Can Do?

Now that the Hearing Protection Act has been introduced in both the House and the Senate the wailing and gnashing of teeth is beginning to be heard from the gun prohibitionists. Just today I received the following in my email from the Space Cowboy aka Mr. Gabby Giffords aka Mark Kelly of the Americans for Responsible Solutions.

John –

With Donald Trump set to take office in just three days, the gun lobby
and their allies in Congress have set their sights on a pair of bills
that will make our communities far less safe from gun violence.
One of those bills would lift restrictions on the sale of firearm silencers.
Now, I don’t want to give the impression that firearm silencers work
like you see them in the movies — where someone fires a gun and it
wouldn’t wake a person sleeping in the same room.
But silencers do suppress sound and light when a weapon is
discharged, and that makes them attractive accessories for criminals who
want to conceal their crimes.
Before Trump takes office, it’s important we lay down a marker on this issue.
The gun lobby will tell you that this legislation is designed to
protect people’s hearing, but the truth is that it’s a massive financial
giveaway to the corporations who manufacture and sell firearm
silencers. The safety of our communities is more important than the
manufacturers’ bottom lines.
Thank you for adding your name.
Mark Kelly
Americans for Responsible Solutions PAC

You want to say, “Really, Mark? Is this the best you can come up with?” A suppressor suppresses sound and light and thus make them attractive accessories for criminals. Flash suppressors for rifles are legal in most states and do not require any license, permit, fee, or registration.

The same could be said for common items like bed pillows, oil filters, 2-liter Coke bottles, and potatoes. All of these common items could be used by thugs, murderers, and criminals to muffle the sound of the firearm and possibly reduce its flash.

Having reported on hundreds of defensive gun uses on the Polite Society Podcast I have yet to come across mention of a criminal having a suppressor in his or her possession while committing an assault, robbery, home invasion, or murder. Indeed, more often than not, these miscreants use the loud sound of a firearm discharge to attempt to cow their victims. They aren’t worried about the police because most times they anticipate being gone by the time the police arrive.

What Kelly is not saying is that treating silencers and suppressors like ordinary firearms still requires a NICS check as they are going to be transferred by FFLs. You would still have to fill out a Form 4473 and felons, drug abusers, those convicted of domestic violence, etc. would still be prohibited from purchasing and possessing a suppressor. While I might want a suppressor to be sold like replacement mufflers for a lawnmower at Ace Hardware, these bills are a good first step in an effort to reduce noise pollution and protect the hearing of hunters and shooters.