As anticipated, on Friday, November 21, 2014, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission voted to remove the ban on using silencer/suppressor-equipped rifles and pistols for the taking of deer, gray squirrels, rabbits, wild turkeys, quail and crows. The use of sound suppressors on shotguns, rifles and pistols for all other hunting was not prohibited in Florida.
Florida’s suppressor ban was merely a small carve-out that, for 57 years, has prohibited the use of beneficial technology. Removing the ban on technology capable of reducing noise pollution was a logical and appropriate action.
Suppressors are regulated under the National Firearms Act (NFA) of 1934. The process of legally acquiring a suppressor is a federal process controlled by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, or “ATF” as it is more commonly called.
In order to acquire a suppressor, a purchaser must submit the appropriate paperwork to ATF where wait times for approval routinely run 4 to 8 months. In addition, the purchaser must undergo a background check by the FBI, find a licensed dealer authorized to conduct suppressor transactions, and then pay a federal tax of $200 for each device. Suppressors are registered with ATF and there are no known cases of poaching using a suppressor that is registered as under the National Firearms Act.
While sound suppressors do not eliminate or “silence” the sound of a firearm, they are effective in reducing some of the noise that has produced complaints by residents from areas surrounding hunting lands. Additionally, suppressors are exceptionally effective in reducing the sharp “crack” of the muzzle report that is known to cause hearing damage.
The growing use of suppressors for plinking and training as well as hunting has been beneficial, not only in hearing protection but in eliminating disturbance of neighbors in the areas of shooting activities.
Opponents of removing the ban have been effectively asking government to mandate as much noise as possible when using firearms. Mandating loud and obnoxious noise is clearly a reversal of government policies that consistently require the reduction of noise. Anti-noise ordinances in many jurisdictions seek to reduce noise pollution and punish offenders for creating excessive noise that disturbs others.
Lobbying in favor of high noise levels and for offending others with noise suggests a different agenda, particularly since noise complaints have become political tools for non-hunters who seek to eliminate hunting and close hunting lands.
In rescinding the ban, Florida joins thirty-two other states where hunting with suppressors is safe and legal.
Before the vote, the Commission heard testimony from two speakers who were in support of lifting the ban. No one requested time to speak in opposition.
Following the vote, FWC Executive Order #EO 14-32 was signed to lift the ban immediately, making the use of suppressors legal for the balance of hunting season.