In a meeting next month in Kissimmee, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is set to consider a proposal to legalize suppressors for use by hunters. Suppressors, also known as silencers, are legal to own in Florida but prohibited from being used in the harvesting of game like deer or turkey. The new proposal comes from hunters who say that the devices can be beneficial to sportsmen and help prevent hearing damage.
“There’s a lot of people who are actually hunters who, if you talk to them, over the course of the years have actually suffered hearing loss because of their firearm going off while they’re participating in hunting,” Chuck Papp, the operator of a shooting range in Palm Beach, told WPTV.
According to information from the American Silencer Association, 27 of the 39 states that allow suppressor ownership also allow hunting with one. Just this year, the states of Louisiana, Georgia, and Alabama have also expanded their laws to allow suppressor use either statewide or in certain areas. FWC spokesperson Tony Young hinted that the commission may be receptive to changing Florida’s regulations as well.
“[Suppressors] basically will take a high-powered rifle and make it sound like a .22,” Young told the Sun-Sentinel. “It still makes a sound, but it’s at a lower decibel level. Maybe they’re hunting close to some houses and maybe they want to be quiet for their neighbors. Maybe if they’re quiet when they shoot, it will scare the game less. We’re just trying to give people the opportunity to be able to buy one and use one if they choose. We don’t see enough negatives to not allow them.”
Purchasing a suppressor is a long and expensive process. To the shooting enthusiasts and hunters who own them, however, it is a small price to pay if it means avoid hearing loss.
The FWC will consider the proposal on September 10.