Silencers for Hunting? Debate Moves Into Wyoming

In some states, it might have been audibly obvious that hunting season was in full swing, as gun shots could be heard ringing through the woods. In others though, hunting could be a much quieter affair as some rifles are outfitted with silencers. It’s a gadget that more states are trying to legalize but it’s not without its debate.

This gun has a silencer attacked to the end of the barrel. (Image: Wikimedia)

According to the Associated Press, 39 states allow silencers (more technically known as suppressors) on hunting rifles, with Texas and Arizona hunters only receiving approval to use such a device this season.

Those in favor of silencers would say they see no reason to ban the muffling device as they prevent hearing damage for hunters and noise pollution for those in heavy hunting areas. On the flip side, opponents would say the silencers take away some of the sport, because it doesn’t give the animal the advantage of using its senses to run away. Some have safety concerns as well.

The American Silencer Association is lobbying to lift bans on silencers in Wyoming and Montana this coming year. Wyoming legislature is expected to vote on it as early as January. An interim legislative committee in the state has already endorsed the bill, according to AP.

Sale of civilian silencers is regulated by the federal government.

Zak Smith, a co-owner of Thunder Beast Arms, said that the argument that silencers are unsporting is unfounded given that bullets travel so fast the animal won’t hear the shot unless the hunter misses it.

Here’s more specifically what an opponent had to say, according to the AP:

Kim Floyd, spokesman for the Wyoming Federal of Union Sportsmen, said his group also opposes the prospect of allowing silencers for hunting, calling it “a poacher’s dream.” He said any hunters truly concerned about the effect on their hearing from shooting at game can carry ear plugs.

Floyd questioned why Wyoming would want to allow silencer use. “I want to know who’s in that drainage with me,” he said. “If they’re shooting a gun, I want to hear that gun. I want to know where these other hunters are. It just absolutely makes no sense to us. Why we would open that can of worms? I don’t care how many other states have this law in effect, it’s just a really, really bad law for Wyoming.”

Hunter and member of the Wyoming Wildlife Federation Richard Oblak told the Los Angeles Times he would worry about people who don’t take safety with guns as seriously as he and his sons do.

“If you go out into the woods on the first day of hunting season, it’s crazy,” he said, according to the Times. “With me and my boys, if there’s the slightest question, we don’t pull the trigger, but not everyone feels that way. In a lot of areas, it would be downright scary if you couldn’t hear the shooting. There’s something about hearing where those shots are coming from, because not everyone is safe-smart.”

Watch this demonstration that shows the difference of a shot with and without a silencer:

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Featured image via This story has been updated.