In an interview with the Washington Post dated October 2, Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., claimed that Stephen Paddock, the man who opened fire on concert-goers in Las Vegas, killing over 50 people and wounding more than 500 others, was “only stopped” because he “did not have a silencer” on his weapon, making it easier for authorities to find him.
“He was only stopped finally because he did not have a silencer on his weapon. And the sound drew people to the place where he was ultimately stopped,” he said. “Can you imagine what this would have been if he had silencers on these weapons?”
Breitbart.com’s AWR Hawkins observed:
His use of the word “silencer” is an echo of other leftists like Rosanne Cash and Gabby Giffords, both of whom use the word “silencer” to describe suppressors. “Silencer” is misleading insomuch as it gives the impression that suppressors silence firearms in real life the way they do in movies. But they do not. Rather, they simply muffle the initial, ear-piercing sound wave created when the bullet is fired.
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He also noted that Kaine’s former running mate, Hillary Clinton, made a similar claim in tweets politicizing the shooting:
The crowd fled at the sound of gunshots.
Imagine the deaths if the shooter had a silencer, which the NRA wants to make easier to get.
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) October 2, 2017
So why would he make such a claim?
Kessler further explained:
First of all, there are relatively few reports of suppressors being used in crimes. In 2015, 125 suppressors were recovered from crime scenes where a trace was requested by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) — when nearly 265,000 pistols, revolvers, rifles and shotguns were recovered. The Violence Policy Center, which opposes the proposed law, argues that this shows the success of current restrictions. “The limited information available suggests that the current regulation of silencers under the NFA is working to keep criminal use of the devices rare,” the group says.
Second, firearms — even with suppressors — generally are very loud.
A suppressor generally will reduce the sound of a weapon by an average 3o decibels, about the level of ear protection.
According to reports, Paddock used AR-15-style weapons. A suppressor would not have made the gun quiet, as anti-gun liberals would have us believe. Instead, Kessler said, a “30-decibel reduction means an AR-15 rifle would have a noise equivalent of 132 decibels. That is considered equivalent to a gunshot or a jackhammer.”
That means even if Paddock had a suppressor, police would still have easily heard the gunshots — take it from someone who has actually operated a jackhammer.
Kessler gave Kaine’s claim two “Pinocchios,” adding:
Kaine should be more careful when talking about weapons, especially during a national tragedy. We will accept his staff’s explanation that he meant that silencers muffle a gunshot’s source, even though his phrasing certainly sounded like he meant that silencers actually made firearms quiet. Regular readers know we don’t try to play gotcha here at The Fact Checker.
But in any case, the evidence does not support Kaine’s claim that the shooter was “only stopped” because he did not have suppressors on his weapons. That’s exaggerated and could leave a misleading impression on people only familiar with silencers in the movies. The crowd under attack might have had trouble establishing the location of the shooter if he had silencers, but he fired from a hotel filled with guests who almost certainly would have heard 132 decibels from the floors above and below the attack.
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