November 17, 2017

Massachusetts: Joint Committee Holds Hearing on Firearm Suppressor Bills

On November 16, the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security held a hearing on over 50 firearms-related bills. Included in the hearing were Senate Bills 1317 and 1340 – both sponsored by members of the bipartisan and bicameral Massachusetts Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus – which would authorize the ownership of firearm suppressors in the Bay State.

Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) Senior Director of Northeastern States Brent Miller submitted testimony in support of both bills, and further encouraged the Committee to authorize hunting with the use of suppressors, bringing Massachusetts in line with the nearby states of Maine and New Hampshire (both states having authorized hunting in recent years). Through his testimony, Miller rebuked the commonly raised opposition points to suppressor use and discussed the many positive attributes of this modern hearing-protective technology.

Included within the arguments were details on how the CEO of Shot Spotter (a service used to detect gunfire in urban environments, including Boston) confirmed that their technology is capable of detecting suppressed gunfire, and how a senior member at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has stated that suppressors are rarely used in criminal shootings and should not be viewed as a threat to public safety.

The above two points are particularly poignant, as there remains a large amount of misinformation concerning suppressors in public discourse, primarily centered on public safety concerns. However, in practice suppressors are a useful tool with multiple positive applications and benefits, including: hearing protection; reduced recoil and muzzle rise resulting in increased shooter confidence and allows for more consistent and accurate shots; improved relations with the general public; and, the potential recruitment and retention of new sportsmen and women due to these aforementioned favorable attributes. 

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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