Bill Would Repeal Ban on Gun Silencers

By Steph Machado

Published 02/03 2014 06:51PM

Updated 02/03 2014 08:37PM

CHARLOTTE, Vt. - Kyle Wolfe never goes to the shooting range without his earplugs.

"If you shoot without earplugs, your ears will ring for a good hour or two," he said. He can't use a gun silencer because they are banned in Vermont, but he wouldn't mind a softer sound.

"I've heard that in other states that have them, it's just part of range etiquette. You bring your silencer to the range and it just makes it quieter for everyone," Wolfe said.

Gun ranges like Laberge's in Charlotte, where Wolfe shoots, often cater to police officers, guardsmen and the general public.

"We do get some complaints," said co-owner Amie Laberge. Laberge says they shortened their summer hours for neighbors who complained about noise in the evenings. He says lifting the ban on gun silencers would be a good compromise.

"It's a noise issue, and the silencers would definitely make it quieter," he said.

State Rep. Pat Brennan (R-Colchester) introduced a bill in the State Legislature to repeal the ban on silencers and suppressors.

"The ranges in Vermont and around the country have come under pretty close scrutiny for noise violations." Brennan is a hunter himself. He says silencers don't literally "silence" guns, but lower the sound from about 160 dB to 130 dB.

This would muffle the noise to the point where it might be a little more tolerable," Rep. Brennan said. He pointed out that 44 states and the federal government allow silencers and suppressors.

Brennan's bill would still ban the use of the silencers while hunting. Vermont Fish & Wildlife Commissioner Patrick Berry says he is not taking a position on the bill, but has concerns about poachers using the silencers to hunt illegally.

Gun-control advocacy group GunSenseVT is not taking a stance on silencers, saying they just want to keep guns out of the wrong hands.

The bill is currently being discussed in the House Fish, Wildlife and Water Resources committee. If passed, sportsmen would need to follow federal law and apply for a $200 permit, and submit to a background check.

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