Seldom do I read the hunting and fishing enthusiast’s “Fish and Game” column in the Madison County paper, but a recent offering on the “State of the Firearms Industry,” drew my attention. The article spoke of the firearm industry returning to a “new normal” since the 2016 election with handguns designed for women and tactical rifles dominating the market. Surprisingly, the hottest item on the market this year — or maybe next — is predicted to be suppressors.
“Suppressor” is the title the gun industry uses for gun silencers, which have been strictly regulated in the United States since 1934. The regulations include a sizeable tax and federal screening through the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms — restrictions similar to those governing hand grenades and land mines. The ownership of silencers is banned in eight states.
How is it possible that gun silencers could become hot market items, as my local paper predicts? Just last month while most were focused on the exchange of power in the executive branch of government, two senators introduced to Congress the “Hearing Protection Act” which would deregulate the sale of gun silencers. Fueled by the gun industry, these senators are seeking to address a non-existent public health issue (damage to hearing) while ignoring the enormous public health crisis from gun violence in our country, as well as the toll on our children and the burden on the U.S. taxpayer.
Suppression is a “hot” topic not only among gun manufacturers, but also among lawmakers since 2008 as states across the country, including my own state of North Carolina, have passed measures making it harder for Americans — particularly black people, the elderly, students and people with disabilities — to vote, a right which is at the heart of our democracy.
“Women’s voices are being suppressed all over the world,” Susan Rice, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said in 2015 when speaking on foreign nations’ incarceration of women who speak out in dissent. Will renewed efforts to suppress women’s voices be viewed acceptable in our nation since Senate majority leaders suppressed Elisabeth Warren’s and Coretta Scott King’s voices during the attorney general’s confirmation hearings?
Will Palestinian voices continue to be suppressed so that there will be no possibility of peace or partnership in Israel/Palestine? Are suppressors the hottest thing on the market today?
What are we promoting in our churches? Suppression or its opposite —aiding, allowing, building up, assisting, encouraging, helping, amplifying, sanctioning, welcoming, supporting?
As followers of Jesus, we should not be surprised at attempts to suppress voices speaking freedom, equality and justice. Many of us have the lived experience of having our voices suppressed as Baptists in the South.
The attempts to suppress the revolutionary message of love and justice of Jesus resulted in the ultimate silencing of death on the cross — or so the religious and governmental authorities thought. We know the message was not silenced, but lives on today, through those who follow Jesus by proclaiming good news to the poor, release to the captives and freedom for the suppressed.