The bill that would legalize gun suppressors for hunting rifles is apparently dead.
Senate Bill 1257 has gone dormant in the Senate Tourism and Wildlife Committee.
A gun suppressor is not a true silencer. The gun still makes noise when fired, but the sound is muffled.
Miles Hall, owner of H&H Gun Range in Oklahoma City, said people who buy them from him are landowners who live near town, but want to shoot on their property so they use gun suppressors to avoid complaints from neighbors.
Republican Senator Steve Russell said that is the same reason he wanted to legalize them for hunting in Oklahoma.
“You have cases where people have owned land for generations and now there are populated areas springing up around them and they’re afraid to use their rifle because the county sheriff will be called on them,” he told The Oklahoman’s capitol reporter, Julie Bisbee.
A gun suppressor could be an advantage for a hog hunter who might get two or three feral pigs killed before they scattered at the sound of gunfire. And in Oklahoma, we need to kill as many wild hogs as possible becaue of the damage they cause.
The only other advantage I see is that a gun suppressor might help save a hunter’s hearing, but ear plugs also work. The down side of the bill is that game wardens are against it, contending it would help poachers avoid apprehension.
Even if the law was passed by the state, a gun suppressor requires a federal permit, which Hall said is a burdensome process. The argument is that anyone who poaches would not bother to go through the process to obtain a suppressor.
“The criminals will continue to be criminals,” Russell said. “The guy who poaches is going to break the law anyway.”
But being able to hear gunshots does help game wardens.
“The sound of gunshots can be useful in catching people who are hunting illegally,” said Tony Clark, a game warden in Creek County and the president of the Oklahoma Game Wardens Association.
Clark said wardens can follow the sound of gun shots at night to catch hunters who are spotlighting, shining the headlights of cars into the eyes of deer to stop them from moving.
“It’s not a huge tool, but it does put us in the area where there may be some illegal activity,” Clark said.
Being able to hear a shot from a mile away is an important investigatory tool, another game warden told me. “Using a suppressor would make it much easier for someone to violate the law,” he said. With the opposition from game wardens, the bill didn’t have much chance of passing.