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The GemTech Tracker and the Evolution of the Sound Suppressor in Modern-Day America

By Will Dabbs, MD | Photography by Sarah Dabbs

From Gangster Tool To Hunting Implement

Hiram Percy Maxim, son of the renowned inventor of the Maxim machine gun Hiram Stevens Maxim, is generally credited with the development of the world’s first effective sound suppressor in 1902. His patent for the device was awarded on March 30, 1909. From that point up until 1934, American shooters could pick up a sound suppressor at their local hardware store cash and carry.

Politicians always use tragedy to shape policy. Lawmakers tapped the ongoing gangster wars between organized crime and Law Enforcement to justify regulating certain types of firearms in civilian hands. The perception at the time was that sound suppressors were the tools of choice of brooding assassins in dark trench coats. Were something not done, chaos would inevitably ensue. As a result, sound suppressors were grouped with cut-down shotguns, automatic weapons and eventually in 1968 destructive devices—like hand grenades and rocket launchers—for exceptional government control.

At that time in American history, politicians still infrequently read the Constitution. Failing to appreciate any authority on the part of the federal government to ban anything outright, they instead attempted to use the nation’s tax code to tax these items out of existence. After 1934, law-abiding Americans could still own all the sound suppressors and machineguns they wanted. The rub was simply that they were charged a $200 making or transfer tax for the privilege. As $200 in 1934 was the cost of seven ounces of gold (which goes for over $1200 per ounce today), that effectively ended any market there might have been for such stuff. Now, some 82 years later, inflation has finally taken the teeth out of this egregious transfer tax, and more and more Americans are enjoying suppressor ownership as a result.

What’s the Point?

When I was young I was once out on a deer stand alongside my dad, trying to keep from freezing to death long enough to see a whitetail buck. I was too young to pack a gun myself, but the outing...

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V22N1 (January 2018)
and was posted online on November 17, 2017

SUBSCRIBER COMMENT AREA

kwill1911
12-13-2017 5:55 PM

The content of this article is fine but why such a provocative (and incorrect) title?  The gun grabbers get more ammo!

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