Officials in Texas have adopted rules allowing hunters to use suppressors (often called silencers) on their firearms effective September 1, 2012. Texas has now become one of a growing number of states that allow or are considering allowing suppressed hunting. Arizona just enacted permission for their use in March of 2012.
Interested sportsmen and women will still have to apply for specific permits for hunting with suppressors in addition to going through the BATFE’s process of acquiring the actual hardware. Suppressors may be used for the hunting of alligators, game animals or game birds. Prior to the ruling, only hunting exotic animals and feral hogs with suppressed firearms was allowed.
Joshua Waldron of Silencerco, a suppressor manufacturer, said suppressors are an advantage to hunters’ safety in an interview with CW33.
“A lot of people will put hearing protection on to protect their ears, but then they can’t hear their surroundings. … that’s actually dangerous when you’re hunting, to not be able to hear, you know, other hunters.”
Earl Ates, lifelong National Rifle Association member and hunter in Longview, has doubts about the benefits of silent hunters. He is worried that they will be used for illegal activities including poaching.
Statesman.com Commentator Mike Leggett also has his own undecided views on suppressors. In an article titled Should we care whether hunters can use silencers on their guns ?, he says, “none of the silencers I’m familiar with are totally silent. And all of them compromise the speed and power of the bullet,” supporting the notion that suppressors are not simply illegal activity-enabling devices.
Leggett states that most people wouldn’t use suppressors for game birds, such as quail, but that these suppressors will mainly be used for deer. Leggett also points out that for many hunters, using suppressors may not be a very prudent economical choice.
“First, you’ll have to have a federal firearms license, which costs $200. Then you’ll need the rifle — which most of the time will be a military style, semi-auto selling for up to $1,500 — and the silencer/suppressor, which is going to be about $400. That’s more than $2,000 just to start.
Then, to make the gun really quiet, you’ll need hand-loaded, sub-sonic ammunition that costs more than $50 a box in .308 or .223.”
Be it as it is, hunters in Texas now have the option to hunt a little more quietly and will be able to use them as soon as September 1.
The following video is from Connect Amarillo, published on March 8, when legislation was still pending. Here is what citizens on both side of the story had to say: