Florida Votes to Allow Hunting with Suppressors

After postponing yesterday's vote in order to hear more public feedback, including commentary from the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission announced via Twitter this morning that they've voted to lift a 57-year ban on using suppressors for game hunting.

Commission is hearing public comment on the Proposed Rule Amendments for Taking Game – Use of Suppressors. #FWC2014 — MyFWC (@MyFWC) November 21, 2014

Commission approves proposed final rule amendment. An executive order will be produced and signed. #FWC2014 — MyFWC (@MyFWC) November 21, 2014

The seven-member commission made their decision at its semi-annual public meeting in Key Largo. Suppressors were already permitted on shotguns used for any type of hunting and on rifles and handguns used to hunt hogs, furbearers, armadillos, and other non-game animals on private land. According to a Florida Today story, hunters asked the FWC to look into allowing suppressors for all hunting to protect hearing and encourage more young hunters. The commission, led by director of hunting and game management Diane Eggeman, unanimously approved the proposal in September, and accepted public commentary before bringing the matter to a final vote this week. Eggeman said that Florida averages 10 firearm-related hunting incidents per year, and "no reported incident has ever involved a firearm with a suppressor."

Guns.com reports that a spokesman for the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence voiced the group's opposition to the rule change, saying, "You want to hear the report of gunfire for the same reason you would wear a bright-orange neon vest: because you want to alert others in the area to your presence, particularly when weapons are being fired." Eggeman told the Orlando Sentinel that "there's a misconception that suppressors make the gun completely silent, and that's really far from the truth."

A presentation slide with data about the actual decibel level of suppressed firearms was provided at the commission meeting. Knox Williams, the president of the American Suppressor Association, explained that even the most effective suppressors reduce the sound level of a .22 LR to 110 to 120 decibels—or about as loud as a jackhammer or ambulance siren. "The legalization of full game suppressor hunting in Florida is a positive step towards making hunting a safer endeavor," said Williams.