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What shooting with the NRA revealed about silencers


Nicole Gaudiano , USA TODAY

FAIRFAX, Va. — The instructor popped off a few rounds with a .22 semiautomatic rifle, first with a silencer and then without, before asking his loaded question.

“By a show of hands, did anyone think that was silent?” Knox Williams, president and executive director of the American Suppressor Association, asked reporters gathered for his demonstration.

Silencers, so-called because they suppress the sound of firearms, are at the center of a heated debate as pro-gun lawmakers hope to advance legislation to make them easier to get.

Gun control advocates say one of a gun’s most important safety features is the loud blast, alerting people to run in the event of a crime. But the National Rifle Association wants people to hear their side of the story — so much so that they invited reporters to their indoor firing range in Fairfax, Va., recently and even armed them for a demonstration.

“My hope is, that’s the biggest takeaway — there’s still a loud noise,” Williams said.

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