As he departed for England, President Trump was asked if he favored restricting silencers such as the one reportedly used by the killer in the mass shooting in Virginia Beach that left 12 dead.
“I don’t like them at all,” Trump responded.
Trump was perhaps unaware that both his elder son and the NRA have in the recent past opposed any regulation of silencers, also called suppressors.
Donald Trump Jr. even made a video back in September 2016 in which he fired a silencer-equipped automatic pistol such as was used to such devastating effect in Virginia on Friday.
“I think it's awesome!” he says in the video after blazing away.
The video was produced and posted on YouTube by SilencerCo, which manufactures 70 percent of silencers sold on the civilian market in the U.S. Don Jr. had a sit-down chat with company CEO Joshua Waldron.
“It’s about safety,” Don Jr. says.
Don Jr. argues that without silencers, gunfire can injure a shooter’s hearing.
“It’s a health issue,” Don Jr. says.
Don Jr. tells Waldron, “I love your product,” and complains, “I can’t use it in the People's Republic of New York.”
Silencers are indeed outright outlawed in New York and 10 other states, though not in Virginia. Waldron and Don Jr. clearly assumed that Donald Sr. would move to lift all restrictions.
“He’s obviously going to be for it,” Don Jr. says.
Don Jr. is in perfect alignment with the views the NRA expresses on its NRA Family website.
“Silencers for firearms were made in 1902 by Hiram Percy Maxim in lock-step with another one of his inventions, the car muffler,” the NRA says. “This makes sense because both products utilized nearly identical technology. Today car mufflers are mandated by the government, while firearm suppressors are highly regulated by it. That doesn't make any sense at all.”
The NRA goes on, “Fact is, silencers, also called suppressors, are rarely used in crime but offer myriad advantages. While they are not silent-supersonic projectiles still make a whip-like crack as they break the sound barrier-suppressors mitigate noise at the muzzle of the gun so it's not as dangerous to nearby ears. They also reduce recoil. They promote accuracy via less recoil and less flinch-inducing noise. Finally, they reduce noise complaints from non-shooters.”
How nice that the Virginia Beach shooter did not have to worry about this ears and that he was able to murder one person after another without his accuracy being impaired by recoil and flinch-inducing noise.
After Friday’s massacre, one of the survivors said he initially thought the shooting was the sound of a nail gun, not an automatic pistol. He survived, but you have to wonder if there were others who died because they were a few fatal moments slower in taking cover or barricading themselves in a safe room.
One reason Special Forces operators use silencers is that their targets are less likely be alerted before it is too late. The same was likely true of the Virginia Beach shooter.
Many of the dead were the sort of public servants who keep our water and sewage systems working so well that we take them for granted. Their efforts in Virginia Beach proved that government can function every time somebody turns on a tap or flushes a toilet.
Government at high levels is another matter.
With President Trump's response to the question about silencers, you could hope that for a moment he was taking a stance in the public interest at the chance of going against his base.
More likely, he did not know what his son and the NRA had said. Or maybe he failed to consider the implications of what he himself was saying.
Meanwhile, the Virginia Beach Police Department did not immediately respond to a query as to what brand of silencer the shooter there used.
Not that it would have been hard to obtain.
Unless you are in the People’s Republic of New York or one of 10 other states, you can simply order one online.