Hunting with silencers OK, lawmakers say

 

ATLANTA — Hunters would be able to use silencers to harvest deer and other game under legislation the Senate Natural Resources Committee approved Wednesday.

Sen. John Bulloch, R-Ochlocknee, told the committee he sponsored Senate Bill 301 at the request of sheriffs who said it would eliminate half their noise complaints. The main use for the silencers will be to quiet guns while hunting wild hogs.

“We have a growing problem with feral hogs,” Bulloch said.

A sow can produce three litters a year for a total of 25 to 30 piglets that will reach maturity in a year and bear their own litters. The Department of Natural Resources issues permits for hunting them at night to limit their number and reduce the nuisance they cause in subdivisions on the fringe of wild habitat.

“If you had a silencer on that gun, the opportunity is to kill more than one because the silencer doesn’t scare them off,” he said.

Noise suppresser may be a better term for the $300 device that screws into the end of the barrel of a rifle or shotgun because it doesn’t eliminate all sound the way Hollywood depicts them, notes Chairman Ross Tolleson, R-Perry.

“When people think about a silencer, they think about the movies,” he said.

Georgia has about a half-dozen silencer manufacturers. If the state prohibition is repealed, using one legally will still require a federal permit and a gunsmith to thread the barrel to receive it, totaling about $1,000, according to Bulloch.

Sen. Frank Ginn, R-Danielsville, sought assurance from Bulloch that the penalty for using an unauthorized silencer was more than a three-year prohibition against getting a hunting permit.

“We’ve already proven they have no regard for the law,” Ginn said. But he agreed the existing $10,000 fine was sufficient. “I don’t mind getting into their pocketbook.”

No one spoke in opposition to the bill before the committee voted unanimously to support it. After a stop in the Rules Committee, it will face a vote by the full Senate in the next week or so and then on to the House.

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