Noise-induced hearing loss in on the rise. In recent years, the proliferation of personal listening devices, such as cell phones, tablets and mp3 players, has led to a steady increase in hearing loss cases, predominantly impacting Millennials under the age of 30. The situation has caused hearing loss prevention groups around the world to call for a change in the ways that hearing loss is prevented, diagnosed and treated.
Without question, the world could be on the verge of a health crisis. But what happens when common-sense solutions to that crisis conflict with laws that address another, seemingly unrelated problem? That is the question facing legislators in the U.S. Congress as they debate whether or not to pass the Hearing Protection Act of 2017, which calls for easier access to gun suppressors.
Recently, the Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership published a paper arguing that suppressors are the best way to prevent hearing loss related to the sound of gunfire. And they're not the only ones with this viewpoint, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also reached a similar conclusion. So if suppressors can help eliminate hearing loss, what's the hang-up?
Gun suppressors are viewed by some as dangerous gun accessories. If you've seen any movie with a covert assassin, then you know that a suppressor can turn any gun into a whisper-quiet killing machine. Except, that's not exactly how they work. In fact, suppressors only minimally limit the amount of sound that a gun emits, but fear of these accessories has still led to them being outlawed in ten states. And even in states where you can buy a suppressor, federal law dictates that those purchases are subject to a $200 tax.
The problem, as it relates to hearing loss, is that other types of ear protection aren't sufficient to to prevent damage to your body's auditory system. For years, gun owners were told that foam ear plugs were enough to save their hearing, but those plugs only reduce the sound by 20 to 30 decibels. And since a gunshot emits anywhere from 140 to 170 decibels, ear plugs aren't good enough.
Suppressors, on the other hand, reduce sound to below the 140 decibel threshold. Proponents of the Hearing Protection Act, which removes the $200 tax, claim that easy access to suppressors is essential to ensure that millions of gun owners don't suffer from hearing loss.
Only time will tell whether or not Congress has the ability to pass the Hearing Protection Act. In the meantime, gun owners are left with the choice of paying the tax or risking damage to their hearing.
If you or someone you know would like to learn more about hearing loss and how to treat it, please feel free to schedule a consultation or contact one of our representatives today!