Many American gun owners and shooters do not know that it’s legal to own and use silencers, suppressors or “gun mufflers” in the United States. There are only a handful of states that cling to the antiquated notion the suppressors should be banned because … guns.
The states where suppressors are banned are the same tiny minority that persist with unreasonable and likely unconstitutional restrictions on the ownership and carry of firearms for personal protection. Silencers are more suited to hunting and target practice. The map shows that irrational hatred of firearms is what is driving the legislation.
The eight states that still ban gun mufflers for non-government agents are: California, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Rhoad Island. All but one, Illinois, have highly restrictive “may issue” concealed carry regulations, and Illinois only adopted a “shall issue” law after losing a legal fight in the federal circuit court.
While the map does not show it, New Hampshire recently changed their law to restore the right to hunt with suppressors, making 40 states where hunting with suppressors is legal.
The reasons for legal gun ownership are so obvious, that passing legislation is mostly a task of educating the legislators. This is not always and easy task, but it is straight forward. In the recent bill in New Hampshire, the legislature listed these findings of fact. From bill HB 500:
2 Findings. The legislature finds that:
I. Firearm suppressors lessen the report of a firearm by approximately 30 decibels, thereby allowing hunters to more fully enjoy and participate in the sport.
II. Hunting with sound suppressors will help to lessen the hearing damage many hunters suffer from.
III. Hunting with a sound suppressor allows new, inexperienced hunters to hunt without ear plugs or ear muffs enabling them to hear important instructions from their mentors (parents, grandparents, or other responsible adults) who are hunting with them.
IV. Suppressors decrease the chance of asymmetrical hearing loss or shooters ear.
V. Hunting with suppressors lessens the ambient noise heard by neighbors who may be on adjoining property where hunting is taking place. While it does reduce the noise level of a firearm, the firearm is still loud enough so that a neighbor will know someone is shooting.
VI. In the 34 states that allow some form of hunting with suppressors not a single state has moved to repeal this practice. It makes for safer shooting and better neighbors.
VII. Firearm suppressors are heavily regulated by the federal government, which requires a $200 tax be paid, a background check conducted, fingerprints be given, sign off by a local chief law enforcement officer, and approximately a 9-month wait to get the paperwork completed before taking possession of a suppressor. This virtually guarantees that abuses with legally owned suppressors are extremely rare.
Once legislators are made aware of these facts, legislation removing burdensome bans on silencers and hunting with silencers often passes both houses with bipartisan support at 90 percent.
Illinois appears the next state that is likely to remove its antiquated ban on gun mufflers. The House passed the bill, but the legislature adjourned before the Senate voted on it. There’s still a chance for the Senate to vote, as the legislature will need to reconvene for a summer Session. The NRA-ILA has a handy system to take action if you are so inclined.
©2016 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.
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