The measures passed despite multiple media reports in both states that inaccurately reported the laws would legalize the use of "silencers," conjuring up images of fictional devices utilized in Hollywood movies.
Fortunately, legislators were not buffaloed by the misleading reports, acknowledging the safety aspects of modern suppressors, which reduce noise, muzzle blast and flash and help prevent hearing loss for shooters and spectators at shooting ranges and in the field.
Kansas lawmakers approved the measure 124-0 in the state house and 38-1 in the Senate. In Washington, the voting went 88-4 and 47-0, respectively.
A measure in the Montana Legislature to repeal the longtime prohibition of suppressors in "field and forest"—HB 174—is currently treading water in the Senate Judiciary Committee, after the Montana Stockgrowers Association (MSA) publicly demonized the devices as being the preferred tools of wildlife poachers.
"(Some) rancher members think suppressors are like the 'silencers' they've seen in James Bond movies," said Montana Shooting Sports Association president Gary Marbut.
While the MSA has backed-off from its opposition to the bill in recent days, the legislature is set to adjourn at week's end and the measure's fate is uncertain. More than 30 states currently allow the use of noise suppressors.
Purchasing a suppressor requires the prospective buyer to pass an extensive background check that can take months. Additional taxes must also be paid to secure the "stamp" for ownership. Then the owner must adhere to all local, state and federal regulations that include securing permission from BATFE to take the suppressor across state lines.
Another important provision included in the Kansas suppressor bill deserves mention. With the passage of SB 152, persons with concealed-handgun permits may legally carry a firearm for personal protection while lawfully hunting, fishing or fur harvesting. Previously, both muzzleloader and archery hunters in Kansas were specifically prohibited from carrying a handgun for protection while afield.