Ohio lawmakers hit the range to learn about silencers

Andy Loeffler of Black Wing Shooting Center instructs Rep. Mike Sheehy, D-Oregon (Columbus Dispatch)

As floor debate likely approaches on legislation to legalize silencers for hunters in Ohio, some lawmakers recently went to the Black Wing Shooting Center for a demonstration. About ten legislators made the trip to watch and listen at an event organized by the Buckeye Firearms Association. Some of them even stepped to the firing line to get some hands-on experience.

Attendees also had the opportunity to hear from a professional audiologist, Eric Bielefeld, assistant professor of speech and hearing science at The Ohio State University, who gave his perspective on the results. From Cleveland.com:

After measuring the decibel levels of un-suppressed and suppressed firearms, Bielefeld voiced his approval of the silencers, saying that they brought sound down about 15 to 20 decibels to a level comparable to that of a rock concert or a lawn mower.

“This did exactly what I was hoping it does,” Bielefeld said, adding that he thinks the noise reduction would help hunters sustain hearing ability.

Channel 10 News  reported that Bielefeld dismissed suggestions that silencers actually silence the report of firearms:

“It doesn’t make it silent. It’s still a very noticeable, detectable sound, but one that is less intense than the unprotected, unsuppressed shot”

Some of the public officials in attendance were persuaded by the demonstration. Rep. Tony Burkley from Payne said that advocates had told him that suppressed weapons weren’t in fact all that quiet, but that “By hearing it myself, it confirmed what they’re telling me.” According to the Columbus Dispatch, another lawmaker expressed disbelief that anyone would oppose the bill.

“It seems to me the noise is still fairly significant,” said Rep. Mike Curtin, D-Marble Cliff, who said he hasn’t fired a gun since his days of ROTC training in 1970. “For me, unless I hear serious reservations from law enforcement or the Farm Bureau Federation, I’m not sure who would have problems with this legislation.”

Ohio House Bill 234 provides that hunters of game birds and quadrupeds in Ohio would be allowed to use a suppressor on any gun that is otherwise lawful for hunting. Hunters would still have to be in compliance with the National Firearms Act in order to take silencers afield. A total of twelve state representatives have signed on as co-sponsors of the bill. The committee is expected to advance the bill to the floor for further debate.