Un-moderated sound levels from firearms have been proven to be highly damaging to hearing regardless of the amount of traditional hearing protection used. The average full bore rifle creates a sound wave between 165 and 170 dB. Most hearing protection offered on the market reduces this sound by 15 to 25 dB. This means the sound reaching the ear during each gunshot can easily be between 140 and 155 dB while wearing hearing protection. Many hunters regularly hunt, for safety reasons, with no hearing protection at all. The universally recognized threshold at which hearing damage is guaranteed is 140 dB. The ability of a sound moderator to reduce the report of a firearm varies widely but a 35 dB reduction on a hunting firearm is a good average for commercially available sound moderators. This reduction would make firearms much safer, by reducing them to a safe sound level comparable to a large jackhammer. Hunters and sport shooters in Canada are losing their hearing and they need access to all of the safety equipment available to prevent this.
Section 7 of our Charter of Rights and Freedoms recognises an individual’s right to personal health and safety. As affirmed in Bedford v. Canada at the Supreme Court of Canada, one cannot be prevented from taking reasonable steps to improve personal safety in a hazardous situation. If the activity is legal, the government should not, and cannot deny access to means that can reduce the risk of that activity.
It’s important to note that the majority of G7 nations and many others have recognized the benefits of these devices. These countries include the United States, France, Germany, Great Britain, Denmark, Finland, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Italy, Poland and others.
Silencers are rarely used in crimes, according to a 10-year study published in 2007 by the Western Criminology Review in the United States. Researchers estimated silencers were involved in 30 to 40 of the 75,000 federal criminal cases filed each year. The study found only two federal cases over a 10 year period involving a silencer used in murders. New Zealand is also a great example of this, as sound moderators are completely unregulated and crime involving sound moderators is a non-concern.
Hearing damage is a major concern in Canada. Tax payers spend millions annually on treating hearing loss in Canadians. The use of personal protective equipment at work and play is common place in almost all high risk activities in Canada yet sound moderators continue to be the only universally recognised health and safety device that has a criminal prohibition with stiff penalties.
Numerous shooting ranges in Canada have been closed or reduced to very limited hours due to noise complaints in recent years. Sound moderators have the potential to reduce noise pollution and noise complaints in communities with shooting ranges, in rural and farm communities, and in areas used for recreational activities where hunting and target shooting is legal. They can be a simple solution to a growing problem as our cities continue to grow outward.
Finally, farmers need firearms as tools for their work. They are regularly used in the vicinity of livestock managing pest populations. Gunshots are extremely stressful to livestock and pets nearby. Sound moderators facilitate significantly increased humane husbandry of livestock, and pets. The same can be said for hunters who regularly use dogs while hunting. There is no hearing protection available for pets and working dogs, only sound moderators can protect them from the hearing damage hunting causes.