POLITICS & GOVERNMENT

Menendez bill would ban gun silencers

BY Briana Vannozzi, Correspondent |

Fran Carroll was one of hundreds of patrons who ran from a shooting during last year’s Art All Night event in Trenton. It left 22 people injured, 17 with gunshot wounds. Carroll says if the guns had silencers, it would have been worse.

“That’s the only way that I knew to run. A stampede of, there were hundred of other people and we’re all just running from the gunshots,” she said.

Carroll and other members of the gun safety group Moms Demand Action stood with Sen. Bob Menendez Friday as he unveiled his latest piece of gun reform legislation — the Help Empower Americans to Respond Act.

“The Hear act would prohibit the sale, transfer, production and possession of gun silencers,” Menendez said.

Menendez pointed to the disgruntled Virginia Beach worker who last month opened fire at a municipal building using a silencer, also known as a suppressor. It attaches to the barrel of a firearm and muffles the sound and kickback of a bullet being fired, instead mimicking the sound of a nail gun. The Virginia Beach gunman was able to fatally shoot 12 people, wounding four others. Survivors say they barely heard the shots, which gave them little time to take cover.

“The NRA wants you to believe that silencers are necessary to protect the hearing of gun owners, but not even the United States military relies on silencers to protect our soldiers’ hearing,” Menendez said.

His legislation would allow for a 90-day buyback program using federal grants and give exception for certain current and former law enforcement. New Jersey already bans civilian ownership of gun silencers, but they’re legal in neighboring states like Pennsylvania, and Menendez says they’ve turned into a moneymaker.

“Back in 2010, there were just over 285,000 registered silencers in the United States. As of February 2018, eight years later, there were nearly 1.5 million silencers. We know because current law requires all silencers to be registered,” Menendez said.

“I’m the one that shows up at the hospital when there’s a gun shooting and also talks to victim’s families, so this really is an issue that comes home to the city of Trenton,” said Mayor Reed Gusciora.

Menendez will formally introduce his legislation when the Senate reconvenes Monday. He’s already introduced a number of other gun safety bills, but those are still waiting for movement in Congress.