Sound suppressors, sometimes referred to as “silencers,” are legitimate tools that have gotten a bad reputation in movies and in the law. The fact is that sound suppressors don’t truly “silence” guns, but can serve a legitimate and peaceful purpose. Allow me to explain:
Sound suppressors don’t really “silence” guns
A sound suppressor doesn’t completely silence a gunshot. Instead, they reduce the sound level. Movies which show “silenced” guns making no more sound than a pin dropping are simply unrealistic. Instead, sound suppressors (basically) work by giving the hot, high pressure gases from the burning gun power some extra room to expand and cool before interacting with the air outside the gun. The result is that the high pressure shock wave generated by the hot gases is traveling more slowly, and produces less noise.
Sound suppressors serve a legitimate purpose
One of the downsides to shooting, especially for newcomers, is the noise. Some people are initially scared by it, while others just find it to be unpleasant. Wearing earplugs or earmuffs is a must to protect one’s hearing, especially when shooting indoors, but some people find them to be uncomfortable too. A sound suppressor is a great way to reduce the noise in some cases. On some low powered rifles, such as a .22 rifle, a sound suppressor can greatly reduce the noise, to the point where some people feel comfortable forgoing hearing protection all together (although I would still use ear protection). On more powerful firearms, a sound suppressor can reduce the noise to a more manageable level as well.
In short, while they do not “silence” guns, sound suppressors can be a great tool for those new to shooting, those adverse to noise, or those firing particularly loud firearms. That is not to say that sound suppressors are a viable option for every gun or every situation, even if the law allows for their use. But they are tools worth considering in some situations, and sound suppressors certainly don’t deserve their image in popular media as the “tools of assassins.”