Senator John Bulloch (R-Ochlocknee) has introduced Senate Bill 301, which would lift the state’s restrictions on using silencers while hunting. Co-sponsors include Senators Ross Tolleson, David Shafer, Chip Rogers, Jeff Mullis and Greg Goggans. Currently such use is prohibited.
I have to believe that given federal restrictions on the possession and transfer of silencers, their use in crimes approaches zero. Once you are registered as the owner of a silencer, you have given BATFE the right to perform involuntary colonoscopy on you at any time they choose. Also, if a report is filed of a silencer being used in a crime, they start visiting registered silencer owners, I suspect. Because of this restriction, there are also likely very few legal silencers that make their way into the black market.
You mean silencers are legal, but I just can’t hunt with them?
Silencers are legal for civilians in Georgia and 33 other states to own. They must be purchased from a dealer that owns a Class 3 Firearms License, and you must be 21 years old without any felonies on your record. You must fill out the BATFE Form 4, provide photos and fingerprints, and your Form 4 must be signed by the chief law enforcement officer in your jurisdiction indicating your lack of a criminal record and no outstanding warrants. When you send in your Form 4, you pay a $200 transfer tax. There are some other requirements, but the main idea is that it is a PITA to get one, but you can do it. And in Georgia, you can’t hunt with it.
But why would you want to use a silencer for hunting?
In order to prevent hearing damage. A .308, which is a popular hunting load, peaks around 160 db and the sound can carry several miles. Even a silenced .308 will peak in excess of 120 db, still loud enough to hurt and cause damage. My own poor hearing is a testament to a youth spent with unsilenced firearms, unmuffled V8s and rock and roll. Silencers also attenuate recoil and help with a more accurate follow-up shot. They reduce the hearing damage to any dogs that may be in your company or nearby.
People really use silencers to hunt?
Yes. Check it out here. If you hate hunting or dead animals, you don’t want to hit that link.
Are there any benefits to society of silencers?
In addition to making people like the late Hunter S. Thompson better neighbors by causing less disturbance when shooting late at night, Georgia is home to Advanced Armament, a silencer manufacturer. This company, now owned by Remington, does its own R&D, provides equipment to the United States military, and provides a number of manufacturing jobs in Gwinnett County. They also use sophisticated manufacturing equipment that costs a pretty penny.
They work just like in the movies, right?
Wrong. A silenced firearm is still very loud. Like rock concert or jet engine loud. Just not as loud as it would be without the silencer. A silenced .22 approaches being hearing-safe, but nothing like the movies. It doesn’t make a sound like a Star Wars laser blaster.