Matt Pinnell works for SilencerCo, one of the largest manufacturers of suppressors based in West Valley City. He’s conducting a sound test at a nearby shooting range to demonstrate the difference in noise levels with and without a silencer.
"What we’re shooting here now is a Benelli M4, 12-gauge shotgun," he says, loading the ammo. "And we’re going to shoot it unsuppressed here first and then we’ll do supressed.”
Pinnell fires a few times then screws on one of their shotgun attachments and proceeds to fire again.
"Unsuppressed, your decibel rating is around 160 or 165," he says. "You’ll lose hearing, and tend to notice a difference, at around 140 decibels.”
The difference is noticeable, even standing a few feet away.
SilencerCo and other gun-advocacy groups have been quietly hoping for movement this year on legislation that would ease some federal regulations. But little has happened legislatively, despite a more gun-friendly Congress.
“We’re all kind of focused on the Hearing Protection Act, which is to deregulate silencers to a point where they’re treated like a firearm, where you can go in and get an instant background check, or NICs check as people know," said Joshua Waldron, CEO of SilencerCo.
That bill has languished since it was introduced in February. But a few weeks ago, Utah Sen. Mike Lee introduced the Silencers Helping Us Save Hearing Act — or SHUSH — aimed at stripping all regulations.
Waldron says Lee’s office did not contact him before introducing the SHUSH Act, but isn’t much more optimistic about its chances.
“I don’t think that legislation has a chance in hell to pass," he says. "It just doesn’t. We have to get 60 in the Senate, which means we have to have something the other side can agree to.”
Critics of the legislation and of suppressors have argued that guns should be loud as a matter of public safety.
Waldron says he has a trip planned to Washington soon to meet with more members of Congress and will keep pushing for their legislation.