Last week, Governor Peter Shumlin signed H. 5 into law, officially making Vermont the 41st state to legalize the private possession of suppressors. The new law, which will go into effect on July 2nd, was the culmination of months of education and negotiation, and a great deal of hard work on the part of Rep. Patrick Brennan (R-Chittenden), the American Suppressor Association, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, and many others.
As you might remember from our earlier post, Rep. Brennan successfully lobbied to have suppressor ownership language inserted into an economic development bill, S. 138. When the suppressor ownership provision was later removed from that bill in conference committee, Rep. Brennan went right back to work, reaching across the aisle to work with Sen. John Rogers (D-Essex/Orleans), who inserted the provision into H. 5, a hunting bill, on the Senate floor. Together Rep. Brennan and Sen. Rogers, along with Rep. David Deen (D-Westminster), worked tirelessly to whip votes in favor of the suppressor ownership bill in both the House and Senate. Their efforts paid off, and H.5 passed both the Senate and the House with overwhelming majorities.
As part of the negotiation, the use of suppressors will be restricted to “sport shooting ranges”, which are defined in 10 V.S.A. § 5227(a). Next year, we will be back to remove this restriction, and to legalize their use while hunting.
There are many benefits to using a suppressor, including:
- HEARING PROTECTION: Noise induced hearing loss and tinnitus are two of the most common afflictions for recreational shooters and hunters. Everyone knows that gunfire is loud, but very few people understand the repercussions that shooting can have on their hearing until it’s too late. Suppressors reduce the noise of a gunshot by an average of 20 – 35 dB, which is roughly the same as earplugs or earmuffs. By decreasing the overall sound signature, suppressors help to preserve the hearing of recreational shooters, hunters, and hunting dogs around the world.
- SAFER HUNTING: Most hunters do not wear not wear hearing protection in the field because they want to hear their surroundings. The trouble is, exposure to even a single unsuppressed gunshot can, and often does, lead to permanent hearing damage. Suppressors allow hunters to maintain full situational awareness, while still protecting their hearing. The result is a safer hunting experience for the hunter, and for those nearby.
- NOISE COMPLAINTS: As urban developments advance into rural areas, shooting ranges and hunting preserves across the country are being closed due to noise complaints. Although it can still be heard, suppressed gunfire helps mitigate noise complaints from those who live near shooting ranges and hunting land.
- ACCURACY: Suppressors reduce recoil, and help decrease muzzle flinch. These benefits lead to improved accuracy, better shot placement, and more humane hunts.
The American Suppressor Association would like to thank all the legislators who worked hard to secure suppressor rights in Vermont, but special gratitude is owed to Rep. Brennan. Rep. Brennan worked vigorously throughout the session for our suppressor rights, not only by drafting the language that would make them legal, but also by making sure the language was attached to no fewer than three bills before finally being approved. The ASA would also like to thank the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation and the National Rifle Association for their support on this issue. We would finally like to thank Gov. Shumlin for signing H. 5 into law.
The American Suppressor Association is grateful for the support of our members, and we are very excited about bringing suppressor ownership to Vermont. We will continue to work towards our goal of legalizing suppressor ownership and hunting in all 50 states. Special thanks to Vermont for taking us one step closer!