The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) will meet on November 20 to discuss whether the agency wants to overturn a 57-year ban on hunting with suppressors. Commonly known as silencers, these devices work by trapping the expanding gasses of a round being fired, muffling the sound to a point where it is much safer for human ears. Hunters in Florida and elsewhere have long called for legalizing suppressors for hunting, which they say will promote hearing health. The issue is not without contention, however, and the legality of suppressors is hotly debated in the state.
“This is not a hunting issue, and this is not a gun-rights issue. This is a safety issue,” Patricia Brigham, head of the gun-safety committee for the League of Women Voters in Florida, told the Orlando Sentinel. “If neighbors don’t hear gunshots in the area, how are they going to know to stay out of the way?”
Opponents of suppressor-aided hunting argue that the devices make it easier for poachers to shoot game, as well as being dangerous because the gun shots are so quiet. Hunters and shooting enthusiasts rebuke these claims, explaining that suppressors do not mask the noise of shots entirely, but only lower them to hearing-safe levels.
“No reported incident has ever involved a firearm with a suppressor,” Diane Eggeman, the FWC’s director of hunting and game management, told Florida Today.
The FWC had already unanimously approved a draft plan that would allow hunters to take game such as deer, turkey, and rabbits with suppressor-equipped firearms in September. The draft is expected to be approved when the agency takes a final vote on the matter later this week. If that happens, Florida will become the 34th state to legalize suppressors for hunting, according to the American Suppressor Association. The organization estimates that over 40,000 Florida residents already own suppressors, and many of them are also hunters. It is currently legal for individuals to use suppressors to take nuisance animals such as feral pigs or coyotes.