After four years of waiting, hunters in Oklahoma can finally celebrate another victory for suppressor use. Earlier this week Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin signed into law House Bill 2637, which legalized suppressors for hunting on public land. Hunting with suppressors on private land is already legal in the state, and has been since 2012. At that time, advocates of suppressor use originally intended to target public land as well, but the result of a compromise meant that it was not until years later that the issue was revisited.
The NFA Freedom Alliance, an advocacy group that originally supported legislation in 2012, said this week’s action marked the end of a long fight in Oklahoma.
“I promised those who hunt in Oklahoma I would be back to finish this job when I started it in 2012, and today I was able to fulfill that promise,” Todd Rathner, the Executive Director of the NFA Freedom Alliance, said in a press release. “It is the position of the NFA Freedom Alliance that those who hunt on public land should have the same privileges as those who hunt on private land.”
Oklahoma now joins the rest of the nation in allowing suppressors to be used for hunting. According to the American Silencer Association, only a handful of states still ban hunters from using the devices, including California, Hawaii, and New York. Hunters say suppressors, also known as silencers, reduce gunshots to hearing-safe levels and prevent hearing loss. Opponents however, worry that it could cause a safety concern or allow poachers to take animals without alerting those nearby. Supporters say these concerns have no basis in reality, and that the benefits of suppressors far outweigh the negatives.
The NRA has also backed legislation to remove the ban on suppressor use, adding that evidence has shown that suppressors provide a healthier and more enjoyable shooting experience.
“In recent years, the use of suppressors has seen significant growth as more shooters and sportsmen learn of their benefits,” stated the NRA-ILA.
According to the NRA, some of those benefits include:
- Suppressors protect against permanent hearing loss, one of the most commonly experienced hunting-related injuries, by decreasing the decibel level associated with muzzle blast;
- Suppressors increase shot accuracy by reducing noise and felt recoil, thereby mitigating trigger flinch and resulting in a more humane taking of game;
- Suppressors mitigate many of the hindrances associated with introducing newer generations to hunting, thereby helping to ensure the propagation of Oklahoma’s rich hunting heritage; and
- Suppressors benefit wildlife populations by decreasing stress and behavioral changes resulting from loud, widely audible firearm report.
“Hunting with a suppressor just makes good sense, why not do everything you can to protect your hearing and be a good neighbor?” Rathner concluded.
The new law takes effect in November.