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Voices rise in debate over gun silencers

WASHINGTON (WISH) — The issue of gun silencers is expected to spur heated debate in Washington.

Some lawmakers are pushing to make them easier to get.

Experts say gun silencers — or suppressors — typically reduce the sound of a gunshot by about 30 decibels.

But to get one, the government imposes a $200 fee and requires a buyer to submit fingerprints and be photographed.

There is also a waiting period that can last more than nine years.

U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks, a Republican from Alabama, wants to change that.

“This is a way to protect the hearing of those people who use weapons on a periodic basis,” Brooks said.

The congressman is a cosponsor of legislation doing away with the restrictions. It’s been met with fierce opposition from gun safety groups.

Jeffrey Twigg, a mass-shooting survivor from Vermont, said, “The first thing we heard was the gunshots.”

Trigg is a survivor of the shooting massacre at Virginia Tech 10 years ago. As the attacker bore down on his classroom, Twigg jumped from a second-story window and broke his leg in two places.

“Without being able to hear the incredible volume of the gunfire, I probably wouldn’t have jumped and I would have been killed,” Twigg said.

A committee meeting on the issue was scheduled for June 14 but was canceled when a gunman attacked a congressional baseball practice.

The legislation is being considered by the U.S. House of Representatives’ natural resources committee as part of a broad plan to expand hunting, fishing and recreational shooting. But so far the hearing is not rescheduled.

Brooks said, “There are always pros and cons it seems like to everything we do, and the key is to find a proper balance.”

The congressman said there is no evidence that more silencers means more violence, but opponents of making them easier to get say they worry it will make mass shootings more lethal.

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