Harvard’s Dr. Neil Bhattacharyya warns that gun owners who shoot for sport face the threat of “hearing loss from the repeated gunfire.”
Bhattacharyya is with the Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.
According to Reuter’s Health, Bhattacharyya is the “senior study author” for work examining the way vocational and recreational noise impact hearing. He singles out the danger of hearing loss from guns, noting, “The problem here is both the number of people using firearms and the potential noise-inducing hearing loss from the repeated gunfire.”
He adds, “A rifle has an extremely loud single burst of sound and if you are firing hundreds of rounds, that can be very damaging, particularly without hearing protection.”
Bhattacharyya is simply the latest doctor to emphasize the danger firearms pose to hearing. On March 30, Breitbart News reported that Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership (DRGO) pointed to the same problem and suggested ear plugs and/or muffs offer insufficient hearing protection. They found that firearm suppressors offer the best protection against hearing loss for those who shoot frequently.
Hearing protection in the form of ear plugs or ear muffs, alone or in combination, can only reduce noise exposure by approximately 20-30 decibels. This limitation in noise reduction may still expose a firearms user to damaging levels of noise; 120 decibels is still louder than a car horn from three feet away. Thus, inside the canal and over the ear devices (i.e., ear plugs and ear muffs)—the only current generally available protection—are inadequate for impulse noise protection, and when used together they deafen the wearer to all external sound.
DRGO pointed to a separate study conducted by Dr. Matthew Branch, who also contributed to the DRGO position paper. His study found:
All suppressors offered significantly greater noise reduction than ear-level protection, usually greater than 50% better. Noise reduction of all ear-level protectors is unable to reduce the impulse pressure below 140 dB for certain common firearms, an international standard for prevention of sensorineural hearing loss… Modern muzzle-level suppression is vastly superior to ear-level protection and the only available form of suppression capable of making certain sporting arms safe for hearing.
On January 9, 2017, Representatives Jeff Duncan (R-SC-3) and John Carter (R-TX-31) introduced the Hearing Protection Act, designed to reduce the regulations on firearm suppressors so law-abiding citizens can more easily acquire them and reduce the volume of a gun shot, thereby reducing the risk of hearing loss.
AWR Hawkins is the Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and host of Bullets with AWR Hawkins, a Breitbart News podcast. He is also the political analyst for Armed American Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org