The WaPo's inventive flip-flop on suppressors

Much like the NRA Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA), I too am old enough to remember when the Washington Post stunned us by issuing a positive fact check of New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand on the subject of suppressors, or “silencers” as the Left likes to say. She had made the long debunked claim that a weapon with a silencer is “quiet” and “Witnesses might not hear. Police will be less likely to track down the shooter.

The WaPo quickly handed her Three Pinocchios in a lengthy analysis which included the following in the summary.

In the meantime, although the popular name of this accessory is a silencer, foes of the law such as Gillibrand should not use misleading terms such as “quiet” to describe the sound made by a high-powered weapon with a suppressor attached. We wavered between Two and Three Pinocchios, but finally tipped to Three. There is little that’s quiet about a firearm with a silencer, unless one also thinks a jackhammer is quiet.

This was all taking place as part of the debate over the pending Hearing Protection Act (HPA) which would move suppressors out of the paperwork jungle involved in purchasing one currently and subject them to the same backgrounds checks and other regulations which apply to shopping for any normal firearms. We don’t often get the chance to agree with the Washington Post when it comes to Second Amendment rights, so it’s great to finally find some areas of common ground.

But apparently I spoke to soon. While the fact check in question was still sitting out there for the world to see, the editorial board members (who possibly don’t read their own paper) pulled off a flip-flop worthy of an Olympic gymnast. As the NRA-ILA points out, they essentially called their own fact checkers liars.

Nine days after the fact check was published – shooting down, as it were, the main argument against the HPA (that gunshots would become undetectable) – the Washington Post did a 180 degree turn and editorialized against the bill. The HPA, it claimed, would repeal “one of the oldest and most effective firearms controls on the books.”

Effective how, exactly? Well, according to the Post, “Silencers are almost never used in murders and other crimes under the current restrictive law, but certainly they would be used in more crimes if there were more of them in circulation.”

As the NRA-ILA points out, one of the key arguments being made by the WaPo editors is based on vaporware. They’re saying that very few murders take place using silencers because there are so few of them out there. But as the FBI crime analysis data shows, the popularity and use of silencers has been on the rise and the total number of people owning them has more than doubled in the past three years. But there’s been no matching increase in incidents of their use in violent crime.

As usual, opponents of the Second Amendment are more interested in what criminals are doing outside of the law than protecting what lawful gun owners are doing while acting legally. There are suppressors out there and if criminals really want one they can get it. And just as with the guns themselves, criminals don’t tend to go through background checks or fill out forms. Fighting the HPA will simply make it harder for legal gun owners to take extra steps to protect their hearing while having no real impact on crime.