Suppressors Legal for Hunting in North Carolina, But Will County Sheriffs Grant Approvals?

In a time when many states are tightening restrictions on firearms, some severely, North Carolina lawmakers passed a provision last week allowing hunters to use sound suppressors. The provision was part of broader legislation allowing permit holders to legally carry concealed weapons in more places, including bars.

In an article from the Charlotte Observer, Sen. Shirley Randleman said she insisted the bill include language about silencers.

"I was initially contacted by some of my constituents," she told the Observer. "They had hunted for years and had experienced significant hearing loss, which was attributed to the use of the weapons when hunting. And then I was contacted by some of the audiologists in my district who also told me about the hundreds of people they examine yearly who experience this hearing loss."

The article goes on to say the nation's attitude towards suppressors is changing, and the Tar Heel State is the 40th to legalize suppressors. Also, because suppressors muffle the sound from a gun's barrel, hunters will be able to hunt in more developed areas where a rifle blast might otherwise irk others.

Of greater concern is monitoring their legality. The ATF performs background checks for anyone buying a suppressor, and after that, according to Julia Rush, a spokesperson for Mecklenburg Sheriff Chipp Baily, a person still needs approval from the county sheriff--requests he's rejected in the past.

"I have traditionally been opposed to silencers in a county as urban as Mecklenburg, where open spaces are limited," Bailey said in a statement. "That said, I will ask my attorney to research the law and advise as to how much leeway I have in approving or denying their issuance. If the law mandates they be approved, then I will follow the law."