Like a great many people my age, I have a high frequency hearing loss. I also have the ringing in the ears. All due to unprotected exposure to gunfire, In my case, both small arms and artillery.
Now I work in an industry that goes to what sometimes seems rediculous extremes about (among other things) industrial safety. I have been extensively trained, and periodically retratined on hearing loss and am also in the hearing conservation program.
Basically any exposure to noise above 85db and you are at risk for damage. Gunfire WILL damage your hearing. Now, it may be that you will only notice it by taking a hearing test, or it may be that ringing that NEVER goes away...every one is different, the only common thing is there will be damage and at some point, you will notice it eventually, though you may not recall just where or when it began....
Now, with all that has been said, and well meant advice about having, and using hearing protection in a self defense situation (if there is time), I have to wonder, from a leagal liability standpoint, is it really a such a good idea?
Much has been made of the possibility of you position or credibility suffering in court if you "disable a safety feature" (such as a mag disconnect), or the dreaded risks of using handloads (regular ammo wasn't deadly enough....)..soo, I have to wonder what kind of story would be told to the jury...what kind of image they will try to make of you, callously donning hearing protection before shooting their (innocent) client....???????
I know its "stupid" but stupid seem to be playing well in the courts these days...
After all, you put on shooting muffs before "hunting down" their client and shooting them....I don't see an easy way to put a positive spin in the minds of people who weren't there, and have never considered it, which is the one thing you can count on, that some, if not all of any jury will be people like that.
Some people have said to put on the muffs (again, assuming you can), and taking them off afterwards, even putting them away before the cops get there, and not mentioning the fact you were wearing them. And while that may sound smart, I doubt it would be. If (for any reason) it comes out that you concealed information, let alone LIED to the police, ALL your creditablility is shot to hell. And that's never a good thing.
All else being equal (and it almost never is) bigger bullets tend to work better.