Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

Gun silencers are useful, not scary

Gun silencers are useful, not scary

More than 100 years ago, inventor Hiram Percy Maxim created two almost identical products to accomplish the same goal in two very different industries. The divergent ways we treat those products today reveals the irrationality driving our national firearms debate.

One of Maxim's inventions, a muffler for the internal combustion gasoline engine, was lauded for its ability to reduce ear-splitting noise. Now mufflers are mandatory for cars, trucks, buses, and industrial machinery to keep people from suffering permanent hearing loss.

Maxim also invented a gun muffler. Popular among hunters and target shooters worldwide, even President Theodore...