Former New York City police commissioner Bill Bratton said Monday that shootings like the one in Las Vegas Sunday night would be worse if Congress were to pass a law expanding access to silencers.
The SHARE Act was introduced by Rep. Jeff Duncan (R., S.C.) and would loosen the restrictions on silencers, also known as suppressors. In the wake of the mass shooting in Las Vegas, Bratton discussed the debate over silencers extensively with MSNBC's Stephanie Ruhle, despite the fact shooter Stephen Paddock did not use one. The former police commissioner said the law is representative of an overall lack of regulation on firearms. He said the level of regulation "defies sanity," and said killers could "effectively silence" guns if the SHARE Act was passed.
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"There is a bill to allow silencers that would muffle the sound of a gunshot to be sold openly," Bratton said, prompting Ruhle to ask why anyone would legitimately want or need to buy a silencer.
"Who knows," Bratton replied. "I am not a gun-lover. I appreciate that many people enjoy weapons, but the lack of regulation in this country still defies sanity."
The former police commissioner expanded on why proponents are pushing for the passage of the SHARE Act.
"The NRA claims its to protect the ears of hunters," Bratton said. "But the idea is, under the ruse of protecting the hearing of hunters, they are going to authorize a device that will effectively silence a weapon."
"Imagine if this individual had a silencer on the end of some of these weapons, you would not have even known this was happening," he added.
Bratton did not bring up the fact that long guns with silencers are still very loud, reaching about 130 decibels. That level is louder than some types of guns unmuzzled, or about the volume of a jackhammer. Ruhle also did not appear to be aware of such facts, saying silencers would effectively "hide" gunfire.
MSNBC host Bryan Williams later praised Bratton for his misleading remarks.
"Bill Bratton … reminded us in just the last half hour that some of the legislation being pushed is to, in effect, legalize the use of silencers across our country," Williams said. "Imagine the effect, the impact, that would have had on the number, the list, of dead and wounded, on an attack like this."
Williams did not bring up any facts related to the effects silencers have on firearms, despite the fact that the Washington Post found the claim silencers make guns quiet, to be false.
"There is little that’s quiet about a firearm with a silencer, unless one also thinks a jackhammer is quiet," the Post‘s Glenn Kessler wrote.
Bratton's argument echoed one made by Hillary Clinton on Twitter Monday morning, in which she said the attack would have been worse if Paddock had access to a silencer.