SPRINGFIELD — Hoping to trigger support for a law legalizing gun suppressors, commonly called silencers, an Illinois firearms lobbyist said Monday there is a difference between the way Hollywood portrays the devices and how they actually work and sound.
Todd Vandermyde, a key architect of the state's concealed-carry law, took members of the media to the Athens Police Department's gun range Monday and had them listen to the difference in the ways guns sound with and without the attachments.
"So what this is all about is we've had some legislation pending in the statehouse to legalize suppressors in Illinois," Vandermyde said. "Suppressors are the industry term for what a lot of people call silencers. They're called suppressors because they don't really silence the sound of the gun, they suppress it."
Thirty-nine states allow some form of legal possession of suppressors. Vandermyde said suppressors help limit the noise from neighbors who are shooting on their own land or hunting and helps give peace to neighbors of gun ranges. They are also helpful to those who are shooting the firearms, especially if ear protection is not being worn.
He also said if people want suppressors illegally, there are several YouTube videos that show how to make them inexpensively.
Though there was a large decrease in the decibel level of the guns, they were not silent and ear protection was still needed. Vandermyde also demonstrated how long it takes to attach a suppressor, which does not just clip on.
It is made of metal and has to be screwed on, taking around 20 to 30 seconds. They almost double the size of handguns, making it hard to conceal them.
"What they do is through a series of baffles, they slow the rapid expansion of the gases coming out of the firearm as the cartridge is fired," he said.
Suppressors also are difficult to get and can be expensive. In order to purchase a suppressor, a person has to apply to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives for the transfer, which can take up to nine months. A chief law enforcement officer has to approve the transfer, the applicant has to pay a $200 tax per suppressor, register it with the ATF, pass a fingerprint background check and be legally eligible to purchase a firearm. Illinois would also require a firearm owner's identification card.
Vandermyde said suppressors vary in price and the guns have to be modified for the it, which can also be expensive.
Vandermyde has been working with state Rep. Brandon Phelps, D-Harrisburg, the sponsor of legislation to legalize suppressors in Illinois. The suppressor industry also has hired a lobbyist to work the Legislature this session.
"We're still pushing the suppressors," Phelps said earlier this session after the bill failed to make it out of the House Judiciary Committee.
Though the legislation remains in committee and the legislative session is coming close to an end, Vandermyde is not concerned.
"They didn't move concealed carry until the last 48 hours, two years ago. Anything's possible when they want it to be possible," Vandermyde said.
The legislation is House Bill 433 and Senate Bill 803.