by Glen Wunderlich
USA – -(Ammoland.com)- In the 1920s and early 1930s, the likes of Al Capone earned a whopping $60 million annually through bootlegging operations, which were a direct response to the prohibition era.
Running liquor had become a profitable business, and some of the bad actors armed themselves with revolvers, pistols, modified shotguns and early machine guns.
Government officials were being pressured to do something and its first attempt at gun control came in the form of the National Firearms Act (NFA) of 1934.
Now 82 years later the NFA still restricts sales, ownership, use, and transport of short barreled rifles, short barreled shotguns, machine guns, silencers and suppressors, and “destructive devices.” While the efficacy of the historic legislation continues to be debated, one unintended consequence is without denial: Millions of law-abiding Americans have suffered drastic hearing loss through the legal use of firearms over the years.
However, a groundswell of support to repeal outdated end runs around the Constitution is under way nationally and, as of February 11, 2016, Michigan has joined the revolutionary ranks to regain these long-lost rights by permitting the use of sound suppressors for hunting.
With the repeal of Wildlife Conservation Order 2.1(6), Michigan becomes the 38th state to recognize the utility of suppressor technology for law-abiding sportsmen.
However, the NFA is still in effect, although Rep. Matt Salmon (R-AZ) has introduced H.R. 3799, the Hearing Protection Act (HPA). The HPA would remove sound suppressors from regulation under the National Firearms Act (NFA), leaving them to be treated as ordinary firearms subject to the usual NICS check and Form 4473 for dealer sales. Plus, the $200 tax on each firearm defined as above, for any transfer involving the firearm would be rescinded, if passed into law.
While the $200 tax remains prohibitive in today’s inflated figures, it represented an exorbitantly large amount in 1934. Factoring inflation into the equation, that same $200 in 1934 dollars represented a tax of an astronomical $3580!
Sportsmen and women can thank Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, who got the ball rolling when he issued Opinion No. 7260 September 2, 2011 stating that State law allows the use of noise suppressors by private citizens when authorized by the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Schuette concludes in Attorney General Opinion 7260 that only Michigan residents in full compliance with federal laws may possess a federally-registered suppressor, also commonly referred to as a muffler or silencer. Possession of a suppressor without the proper federal authorization remains a five-year felony under Michigan law.
However, it had remained illegal for the subsequent five years to suppress the sound of hunting firearms.
Documented evidence shows that the use of suppressors engenders a safer and more enjoyable shooting and hunting experience for the following reasons:
- Suppressors protect against permanent hearing loss, one of the most commonly experienced hunting-related injuries, by decreasing the decibel level associated with muzzle blast;
- Suppressors increase shot accuracy by reducing noise and felt recoil, thereby mitigating trigger flinch and resulting in a more humane taking of game;
- Suppressors mitigate many of the hindrances associated with introducing newer generations to hunting, thereby helping to ensure the propagation of Michigan’s rich hunting heritage; and
- Suppressors benefit wildlife populations by decreasing stress and behavioral changes resulting from loud, widely audible firearm report.
A tip of the hat goes to lawmakers who have taken the bold initiative to restore a slice of our rights and to save the hearing of the next generation of American hunters.
About Glen Wunderlich:
Charter Member Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA). Outdoor writer and columnist for The Argus-Press (www.argus-press.com) and blog site at www.thinkingafield.org Member National Rifle Association (NRA), Michigan United Conservation Clubs (MUCC), member U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance (USSA), Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA), Commemorative Bucks of Michigan (CBM).