On February 18, Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead signed a measure permitting the use of firearm suppressors for all types of hunting, and this week two other states appear poised to approve similar measures during their respective 2013 legislative sessions.
If North Dakota and Indiana join Wyoming with pro-suppressor legislation this year, the number of states permitting the devices for hunting will total 30.
North Dakota House Bill 1282, sponsored by state Representative Joe Heilman (R-45), passed the state Senate by a 29-17 vote on March 18, and now heads to Gov. Jack Dalrymple's desk, who is expected to sign the bill into law. The measure permits hunters in North Dakota to use lawfully possessed suppressors (also referred to as silencers) on firearms while hunting.
While the North Dakota Game and Fish Department currently allows the use of lawfully possessed suppressors when hunting, there was previously no state statute codifing the practice.
Also on March 18, the Indiana Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee unanimously passed House Bill 1563, legislation that would repeal Indiana's current prohibition on the use of suppressors while hunting. The measure now heads to the Senate floor for consideration.
During state legislative action in 2012, Arizona, Texas and Oklahoma adopted new laws or regulations allowing for use of suppressors when hunting game.
In 2011, lawmakers in Michigan, Kansas, Washington and Missouri approved measures allowing the personal ownership of suppressors for the first time in those states, bringing the current number of states that allow private possession to 39. It remains against the law to own suppressors in California, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, Delaware and Hawaii.
Interest in using suppressors on firearms has increased exponentially in the past few years, as shooters and hunters have become more aware of hearing damage caused by firearms. Suppressors also reduce recoil and muzzle rise, and in many cases help increase accuracy. For hunters, this translates into fewer wounded and lost animals, which is a good thing for sportsmen and wildlife alike.
A firearm sound suppressor is basically a baffle-filled cylinder that attaches to the end of a rifle or handgun barrel. It reduces — but does not eliminate — the audible signature of a shot. While silencers do not totally conceal the sound of a shot, they significantly reduce muzzle report, similar to the way a muffler reduces exhaust noise on a car or truck.