Silencers/suppressors got more or less the same treatment as switchblades - they seem more scary and evil and weren’t that popular at the time except for certain criminal elements - or at least that was the perception.
Like a lot of things, there are a ton of myths and misconceptions. As other said, they don’t actually silence anything. That “pe-tew, pe-tew” sound in movies and video games is pure fiction. Yes it does quiet things down. No it doesn’t really make it any more dangerous. While it is a popular tool in gangster movies, actual use in the crime world is pretty low, even though any one with a lathe can make one (even before being added to the NFA list).
Removing them from the NFA would have no affect on crime, especially hot spots with high amounts of street crime, as suppressors make it much more difficult to conceal a gun. It might make a hit mans job easier, but lets be honest, “hit men” are mostly Hollywood myth/exageration, they aren’t nearly as prevalent as one would think from the movies.
Right now the number of lawful owners eclipses dramatically any criminals with them and it hasn’t been a problem.
Ironically, in some European countries, where there is less space to shoot, they are more common and way less regulated and seen as common courtesy. Heck you can buy them off the shelf in the UK, and people have gotten in trouble trying to bring them back.
There really is little reason for them to remain on the NFA with the absurd $200 tax and the restrictive class III for makers. It truly does make it much easier on your ears for all around. Even with hearing protection you can appreciate the difference. It also makes it more enjoyable for new shooters.
If they take it off the NFA list, they will retail for $100 or less for many common calibers, until people start making them in China, in which you could easily buy a cheapy one for half that. OH sure, some will charge a premium, and some will be better than others. But the old, proven designs are duh simple to make - its basically tubes within tubes.
You’re right it is mainly a toy, but its a fun toy, and it has practical, real world benefits making it quieter for all around (including those who live miles from a shooting range). As well as indoor rangers where the sound reverbs and echos.