Contact: Joe Mullin, Assistant Manager, Northeastern States and States Program Assistant
Why it Matters: Firearm suppressors are often referred to as the hearing protection of the 21st Century – but don’t just take our word for it. According to data from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, suppressor ownership and use has expanded rapidly in recent years with nearly 300,000 more suppressors in circulation in 2020 than there were in 2019. Many of these suppressor owners utilize this hearing protection in the pursuit of game in the 40 states that allow it, Maine included, to protect their hearing while maintaining their situational awareness. However, sportsmen and women who wish to hunt with their suppressors in the Pine Tree State were required to go through an additional hurdle that no other state required – an additional permit. LD 635 eliminated this barrier so that Maine’s hunting community can more easily enjoy the endless sporting pursuits that the state has to offer without fear of causing irreparable hearing damage.
Hunters in Maine have cause for celebration, as Governors Sportsmen’s Caucus Member Governor Janet Mills signed Legislative Document 635 (LD 635) into law, allowing sportsmen and women to protect their hunting partners, sporting dogs, and themselves from hearing damage and/or loss without the bureaucratic red tape of a permitting process. Introduced by Maine Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chair Senator Trey Stewart, LD 635 removes the additional payment and permit required for Mainers to hunt with a suppressor.
“Hearing protection is such an important part of hunting and recreational shooting, and the passage of this bill will allow Maine’s sportsmen and women to protect themselves without being subjected to an unnecessary and duplicative permitting process,” said Caucus Co-Chair Senator Stewart.
The process one must go through to purchase and obtain a suppressor is far from a walk in the park. Federally regulated under the National Firearms Act (NFA) of 1934, suppressors are within the purview of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). Would-be 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 – a process that often averages seven months or more. In addition to the onerous federal requirements, those who planned on using a suppressor while hunting in Maine would need to submit a payment and application to the MDIFW, though LD 635 successfully eliminated this added step.
The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) would like to thank Caucus Co-Chair Senator Stewart, members of the Maine Sportsmen’s Advisory Council, the American Suppressor Association, and in-state and national partners for their support in helping LD 635 cross the finish line. As always, CSF will continue to fight for opportunities that allow sportsmen and women to protect themselves and their passions while afield.
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?