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New Outrageous Lie from NRA: Gun Silencers Protect Kids' Hearing

Silencers could give the next Adam Lanza even more time to kill -- but to the NRA, it's got to be protected.

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WerBell didn’t stop tinkering after reinventing the silencer. He also developed the gun he thought his silencer deserved. The result was the ultimate greaser. The ultra-sleek and compact MAC 11 weighed and sized little more than a conventional pistol and spat 14 bullets per second, or 850 a minute. Had WerBell been working today, he might have produced a semi-automatic version for the civilian market. In the early 1970s, the Pentagon was the only game in town. WerBell fought hard for but failed to land a massive contract to make the MAC a standard-issue weapon. Had he succeeded, SIONICS might be a household name today. (This is how gun empires are born. Gaston Glock designed his first gun competing in an open tender bid to produce a sidearm for the Austrian Army.)

The Pentagon’s rejection was the first of two that deepened WerBell’s bitterness at the government he served for so long. As he courted clients among foreign intelligence agencies, the State Department denied him an export license, arguing that the spread of WerBell’s silencers was likely to increase the risk of assassinations around the world. A sign of saner times gone by, there was in the early 1970s no American Silencer Association to help WerBell market his products to preppers with “bugout bags,” and no Wayne LaPierre or Chris Cox to strategize state and national-level assaults on the National Firearms Act. Instead, WerBell the Wizard of Whistling Death hit the road to peddle his remaining inventory on the global grey and black markets. He sold his wares out of a suitcase like the house-calling gun dealer in Taxi Driver, shooting up stacks of telephone books before giddy prospective clients who marveled over the little machine gun emitting such seductive sibilance, ssyyyt ssyyyt ssyyyt, the contract killer’s lullaby.

Before leaving the sideshow stage of history, WerBell made one last lunge for greatness. His hopes of building a gun empire stymied, in 1972 WerBell began planning an amphibious invasion of a tiny Bahamanian archipelago known as Abaco, which was home to a small separatist movement. WerBell enlisted financial support from real estate mogul and Libertarian Party leader Mike Oliver, whose Phoenix Foundation existed to seed utopic Libertarian projects like the one WerBell imagined on the beaches of Abaco — an independent global tax haven, home of SIONICS headquarters, and the Undisputed Silencer Capital of the World. As with his planned invasion of Haiti eight years prior, WerBell was still training his mercenaries when the whole thing fell apart from infighting and a surprise visit from the Feds.

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Telling Mitch WerBell’s story is just a long way of demonstrating why the new NRA-backed Hearing Heath First! silencer-promotion campaign is a particularly hideous and towering architectural example of the Gun Lobby’s Nouveau Bat Shit Style, which if not ridiculed and condemned is guaranteed to crash down on all of us, leading to new and yet more lethal mutations in our national plague of gun violence.

There are very good reasons why the silencer industry is contending with a nasty case of Vietnam Syndrome. The reason the public associates silencers with death squads, assassination raids, and mafia hits is because these were the uses WerBell had in mind when he engineered them. They are also the uses to which they are best suited and most needed, if that’s the word. It wasn’t all that long ago that even the Freaks of Fairfax understood that the silencer’s dark reputation was deep and well deserved. As recently as 2000, the NRA showed a rare sensitivity for public perceptions and forbade a silencer manufacturer from exhibiting its wares at the NRA’s national convention. Kevin Brittingham, of the silencer maker Advanced Armament Co., says the NRA’s executive office  called him before the millennial year convention in Charlotte and told him not to come. “We don’t want the news media focusing on your table and putting guns in a bad light,” the NRA explained.

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