Last week Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal signed House Bill 186, which allows hunters to use suppressors when pursuing all game animals in the state. The law will take effect on August 1, making Louisiana the third state in 2014 to legalize suppressors for hunting. The governments of Georgia and Alabama have also approved similar legislation.
“This is about mitigating the noise and preventing hearing loss,” Louisiana Representative Cameron Henry (R-Metairie) told Capitol News Bureau.
Henry sponsored HB 186 to expand on a law that already allowed Louisiana hunters to take nuisance species with suppressors. Under the new law, hunters will be able to equip their rifles and shotguns with the devices to hunt all wild game. Supporters of HB 186 say that suppressors prevent hearing loss by mitigating the sound of gunshots. Other benefits include fostering better communication while in the field and causing less of a disturbance to land owners.
Critics claim that suppressors make it easier for poachers to illegally take game. Hikers and campers also worry that the muffled gunshots will make it harder to gauge whether there are hunters nearby. Supporters wave these worries aside, saying that gunshots with a suppressor are still loud—but simply much less damaging to the ears.
“The new law marks a major step in the right direction for hunters across the country who wish to protect their hearing,” the American Suppressor Association (ASA) wrote in a press release.
According to the ASA, 39 states in the nation permit suppressor ownership. Of those, 33 allow hunting of either all game or varmints. Actually purchasing a suppressor is a long process involving fingerprinting, pricey transfer taxes, and a lengthy approval process that can take several months.
A bill is currently under consideration in Ohio to allow the use of suppressors for hunting in that state as well.
Image courtesy US Fish and Wildlife Service