Last week the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Advisory Board voted unanimously to overturn the state’s ban on hunting with suppressors. The new regulation is expected to take effect in late June, making Alabama the 33rd state in the nation to legalize suppressors for hunting. The decision by the board came shortly after nearby Georgia ended its own ban last month.
“This change marks a major step in the right direction for hunters across the country who wish to protect their hearing,” stated a press release from the American Suppressor Association (ASA). “Alabama joins Georgia as the second state to legalize suppressor hunting in 2014. Similar measures are also in progress in Louisiana and Ohio.”
Some hunters say that suppressors—or silencers as they are commonly called—can prevent hearing damage and make it easier to communicate in the field. While suppressors do not silence the sound of a gunshot entirely, studies have shown that it can muffle the sound to a point where it is safer for human ears. However, getting a suppressor can be a lengthy process.
“What some people don’t realize is that it is not that easy to get approval to buy suppressors,” Fred Harders, the assistant director of wildlife for the Alabama Department of Conservation, told al.com. “There is a pretty good bit of paperwork and a lengthy wait before the federal authorities will let you have one.”
In addition to background checks and fingerprinting, prospective buyers can expect to shell out $200 in a transfer tax. The lengthy approval process can also take upwards of several months. For the wait, gun owners say that suppressors can be useful at both the range or in the woods, and more importantly, are fun to use.
Not everyone is happy with the new regulations. Some hunters have their doubts about taking game with suppressors, which they believe can be a boon to poachers. Since the gunshot will be less noticeable, critics argue that the new regulation will embolden poachers to shoot game in places normally patrolled by wildlife officers.
Harders said that he doubted poachers would be willing to go through the paperwork.
“A poacher typically uses whatever they’ve got,” he explained.
Alabama’s regulatory change will undergo a final administrative review before taking effect later this year.
Ever wondered how a silencer is made? Click here for a video walkthrough.