Position Paper in Favor of Firearm Suppressors to Prevent Hearing Loss

Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership
A Project of the Second Amendment Foundation
March 2017
Contributors:
Matthew P Branch, MD
Board Certified, American Board of Otolaryngology
Founder/CEO ENTRx, LLC
Attending Otolaryngologist/Head and Neck Surgeon
Waxahachie, Texas
Gerard J. Gianoli, MD, FACS
Board Certified, American Board of Otolaryngology
Fellowship Trained in Otology, Neurotology & Skull Base Surgery
President, Ear and Balance Institute, Covington, Louisiana
Clinical Associate Professor, Tulane University School of Medicine
Dept. of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery & Dept. of Pediatrics
New Orleans, Louisiana
Bradford Ress, MD, FANS
Board Certified, American Board of Otolaryngology
Fellowship Trained in Otology, Neurotology & Skull Base Surgery
Fellow, American Neurotology Society
Boca Raton, Florida
Timothy Wheeler, MD
Board Certified, American Board of Otolaryngology
Fellow, American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery
Immediate Past Director, DRGO
Upland, California
Robert B. Young, MD
Editorial Director, DRGO
Pittsford, New York
Arthur Przebinda, MD
Project Director, DRGO
South Pasadena, California
Executive Summary: Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership
Position Paper in Favor of Firearm Suppressors to Prevent Hearing Loss
March 2017
DRGO strongly supports making firearm suppressors readily available as a critical public health step to
prevent hearing loss. Lowering barriers to suppressor ownership will decrease gunshot induced hearing
damage in over 100 million American firearm users, with no material impact on criminal use.
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.
Conventional ear protectors deafen the wearer to external sound. Suppressors facilitate clear verbal
communication between shooters, increasing safety.
Restricting suppressors is a longstanding obstacle to hearing safety:
Listing suppressors in the 1934 National Firearms Act for no apparent reason made them extremely
expensive and difficult to acquire here. They are readily available to gun owners in much of Europe and
in New Zealand, where firearms are more strictly regulated.
Suppressors do not promote crime:
Suppressed gunfire is still very loud, about 120 decibels. There is no evidence that commercial
suppressors increase the danger of criminal shootings. Single-use suppressors can easily be made at home.
Criminals want easily concealed weapons; suppressors may double the length of handguns. Illegal
suppressor use is extraordinarily rare, and is prosecuted at a rate of only 0.02%.
© 2017 by Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership. All rights reserved.