Hunters in the state of Texas may soon be able to purchase suppressors for more than just hunting feral hogs and other nuisance animals.
Texas Parks & Wildlife has proposed some amendments to the State's Hunting Proclamation. These amendments would expand the use of legally-obtained suppressors on firearms while hunting non-nuisance animals such as deer and other game.
According to some hunters and gun dealers, if the law is put into effect it could result in some positive changes, starting with hunters not worrying with the problem of hearing loss.
"Most people don't wear hearing protecting in the field because it's cumbersome and hard to do," Panhandle Gunslingers Owner Burnie Stokes said. "Many times, the report of the rifle will scatter the herds when it's fired. The herds are now going to scatter and you're not going to be able to get off a second shot. Number two- if you have neighbors in close proximity, they're not going to be able to hear the shot that you've fired."
Some people have expressed concerns about gangs and poachers obtaining the suppressors for illegal activity, but officials said that would not be an issue.
"To get a suppressor, you go through a very rigid FBI check to get it," Personal Defense, Inc. President Aaron Schrandt stated. "So, we're not dealing with criminals. We're dealing with good people, people that do not have a record, that have no violent crimes in their history. The typical criminal, the poacher is not going to be able to obtain a suppressor legally."
Dealers are currently required to have a Class III license in order to sell suppressors. Panhandle Gunslingers has already begun the process of obtaining that license, as Stokes said he feels it is something his store needs.
"We have to go through the proper paperwork through the ATF and FBI. We feel like there's definitely a need for a Class III dealer, a public Class III dealer that has a storefront. And that's what we're going to try to do."
Suppressors do not completely silence the gunshot. They catch the gas and report from the gun, and often reduce the amount of muzzle flash generated when the gun is fired.
"It's still going to be loud," Schrandt said. "If you go in your backyard, put suppressor on your gun and shoot it in the backyard, your neighbors are going to know you just shot that suppressor."
Texas Parks & Wildlife is taking public comment on the proposed amendments through March 28. To express concerns, ask questions and make comments, contact Texas Parks & Wildlife at 1(800) 792-1112.