U.S.A. –-(AmmoLand.com)- The same person who invented the muffler for the automobile invented them for guns. Hiram Maxim, the inventor, called them “Silencers”. An obvious reason they were not invented earlier is the inside of a gun muffler is more complex than a gun barrel. Early silencer designs were made of mild steel, making them subject to corrosion. A silencer for a gun using black powder would require a significant effort to clean after each use.
Smokeless/non-corrosive gunpowder did not become common until about 1900. At that point, gun mufflers became more practical. Increasing prosperity in society, brought about by technical innovation and the use of fossil fuels, made target shooting more economical for more people.
Hiram Maxim invented the gun muffler in 1902. It was moderately popular. President Theodore Roosevelt owned several and found them useful for target shooting and pest control.
The Progressive regime of Franklin Delano Roosevelt was able to make the interstate transportation and marketing of silencers prohibitively expensive in 1934. There was no clear reason to do so in the legislative record. Placing prohibitive taxes on machine guns, silencers, and short-barreled rifles and shotguns was the booby prize in 1934. The main aim of the proponents of the law had been to require registration and licensing of all pistols.
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