February 22, 2021

A Maine Concern – Needing a Permit to Protect your Hearing

Contact: Joe Mullin, Assistant Manager, Northeastern States

In the world of firearm suppressors, Maine is in a unique situation. For hunters to use suppressors in the pursuit of game, they must first obtain a permit from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) – something that is provided by the MDIFW Commissioner on a “may issue” basis. Maine is the only state in the nation to require a permit to use a suppressed firearm for hunting, though a change is in the works.

Maine Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chair Senator Trey Stewart has put pen to paper to revise this system, introducing legislation – LR 1593 – that would repeal the statute requiring the suppressor permit. The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) has been working alongside Senator Stewart and the American Suppressor Association toward the introduction of this bill, as it would remove an additional hurdle that sportsmen and women must undergo in order to protect themselves from irreparable hearing damage while afield.

The process one must go through to purchase a suppressor is anything but easy, as they are federally regulated under the National Firearms Act (NFA) of 1934 and fall under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). Prospective purchasers must find a licensed dealer, send the appropriate paperwork and a one-time $200 tax per suppressor to the ATF, undergo an extensive FBI background check, and undergo a National Instant Criminal Background Checks System (NICS) check at the point of purchase. Wait times for this process often average seven months or more. However, for sportsmen and women in Maine, there is the added step of applying for a permit from the MDIFW – another delay that serves to tack on even more time. Hence, there is a need for the removal of this barrier so that sportsmen and women may be able to utilize their hearing protective devices while hunting.

CSF looks forward to continuing its efforts alongside Senator Stewart and the American Suppressor Association in the Pine Tree State.

Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?

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