Florida may end prohibition on hunting with silencers

Florida Deer

Florida hunters may soon be able to wear their hearing protection on the end of their hunting rifles. According to the Sun-Sentinel, the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission is considering a change in their regulations to allow hunters to lawfully pursue “deer, turkey, gray squirrels, rabbits, quail and crows” while using firearms equipped with silencers.

The representative from the Wildlife Commission who was interviewed for the article seems to have a healthy understanding of what these devices can and cannot do.

“It basically will take a high-powered rifle and make it sound like a .22,” said Tony Young, spokesman for the wildlife commission. “It still makes a sound, but it’s at a lower decibel level. Maybe they’re hunting close to some houses and maybe they want to be quiet for their neighbors. Maybe if they’re quiet when they shoot, it will scare the game less. We’re just trying to give people the opportunity to be able to buy one and use one if they choose. We don’t see enough negatives to not allow them.”

Opponents of the change predictably include anti-gun types who simply want to regulate the gun industry out of business. Unfortunately, they also include some folks who should be allies. One opponent of allowing silencers for hunters is the executive director of the United Waterfowlers of Florida (it is worth noting that the proposal does not include provision for taking waterfowl with suppressed weapons). Newton Cook was cited in the article as objecting to the changes, with the same old canards about poachers. To his credit, he did admit that silencers could make a difference in whether property owners will allow hunters access to their land. But he fails to also consider that educating young people about his sport — another stated objective of his organization — is easier when they are not scared.

Cans tame the boom from hunting arms, making them safer and less intimidating for shooters and observers. Field training could be made a little more newbie-friendly with quieter firearms. With the advent of commercially available silencers for scatterguns, that possibility should start seeming a lot more relevant to waterfowlers. Hopefully, members of UWF will contact Mr. Cook and work to persuade him that advocated for a continued ban on silencers for Florida hunters does not advance UWF’s mission to improve duck-hunting in Florida, to live up to the organization’s aspirations.

The Commission will consider the proposal at its September 10 meeting.