Last month, the Michigan Natural Resources Commission (NRC) heard testimony on the merits of suppressor hunting at a public hearing in Lansing, MI. During the meeting, a member of the Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement Division delivered a presentation to the NRC expressing that their department does not object to allowing hunters to use suppressors. At that meeting, representatives from the American Suppressor Association, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, the National Rifle Association, and Gemtech all provided testimony in support of making Michigan the 38th state to legalize suppressor hunting.
On January 14th, the NRC will consider Wildlife Conservation Order Amendment No. 1 of 2016, a resolution to eliminate the prohibition on the use of legally possessed suppressors while hunting. If approved, the measure will be up for a final vote at the February 11th NRC meeting. However, earlier today, the ASA learned of two arbitrary and unenforceable restrictions included in the proposed rule. These restrictions would:
- Only allow “the use of suppressors capable of a decibel reduction of no more than 30 decibels as provided by the manufacturers specifications.”
- Prohibit “the use of subsonic ammunition (velocity less than 1,126 feet per second) in combination with suppressors.”
While the ASA supports the legalization of suppressor hunting in Michigan, we unequivocally oppose the proposed restrictions placed on decibel reduction, and the prohibition of the use of subsonic ammunition for hunting. These proposed restrictions, which have not been enacted in any of the 37 states where suppressor hunting is currently legal, would do nothing to enhance public safety. Instead, they would confuse hunters and enforcement agents alike, who would oftentimes have little to no way of knowing whether or not the suppressor in question provided too much hearing protection, or if the ammunition being used was not quite fast enough.
Many suppressor manufacturers, including SilencerCo, do not list decibel reduction levels as a standalone number in their specifications. Instead, they publish average overall dB levels for their suppressors by caliber type. For instance, according to the SilencerCo website, the Harvester 30 will decrease the sound level of a .308 Win rifle to an average of 136.4 dB. When this is the case, how would enforcement agents determine if the suppressor is capable of reducing the signature by more than 30 dB?
In addition, the actual signature reduction of a suppressor is determined by a host of factors, including, but not limited to the operating system of the firearm, barrel length, muzzle devices being used when unsuppressed, caliber, and ammunition. With so many variables, it would be impossible for enforcement agents to know if the suppressor reduced the signature of the gun it is attached to without testing the firearm/suppressor/ammunition combination on the spot.
In order to avoid scenarios where law enforcement agents would have to interrupt hunts to test suppressors, and/or ammunition in the field, we need your help to politely urge the NRC to drop these unnecessary and unenforceable provisions from the proposed rule. They can be reached at: NRC@michigan.gov, or by phone at (517) 284-6237.
Suppressors, which are already legal to possess in Michigan, are the hearing protection of the 21st century sportsman. Michigan is one of only four states in which their possession is legal, but their use in the field is not. Since 2011, 15 states have legalized suppressor hunting for all game animals. Despite common misconceptions, suppressors are not silent. They are simply mufflers for firearms. There are many benefits to using a suppressor, including:
- HEARING PROTECTION: Noise induced hearing loss and tinnitus are two of the most common afflictions for recreational shooters and hunters. Everyone knows that gunfire is loud, but very few people understand the repercussions that shooting can have on their hearing until it’s too late. Suppressors reduce the noise of a gunshot by an average of 20 – 35 dB, which is roughly the same as earplugs or earmuffs. By decreasing the overall sound signature, suppressors help to preserve the hearing of recreational shooters, hunters, and hunting dogs around the world.
- SAFER HUNTING: Most hunters do not wear hearing protection in the field because they want to hear their surroundings. The trouble is, exposure to even a single unsuppressed gunshot can, and often does, lead to permanent hearing damage. Suppressors allow hunters to maintain full situational awareness, while still protecting their hearing. The result is a safer hunting experience for the hunter, and for those nearby.
- NOISE COMPLAINTS: As urban developments advance into rural areas, shooting ranges and hunting preserves across the country are being closed due to noise complaints. Although it can still be heard, suppressed gunfire helps mitigate noise complaints from those who live near shooting ranges and hunting land.
- ACCURACY: Suppressors reduce recoil, and help decrease muzzle flinch. These benefits lead to improved accuracy, better shot placement, and more humane hunts.