May 16, 2022

Vermont Caucus Co-Chair Leads Charge in Fighting for Suppressor Use While Hunting

Contact: Joe Mullin, Manager, Northeastern States

Why it Matters: Firearm suppressors are often referred to as the hearing protection of the 21st Century. Vermont recognized this in 2015 when it authorized their ownership. However, since then, their use has not been legal while hunting. In the 40 states that have already authorized the use of suppressors in the pursuit of game, sportsmen and women are able to protect their hearing while maintaining their situational awareness. Senate Bill 281 would transition Vermont from being one of two states that does not allow the use of suppressors while hunting to one in which the state’s hunting community can more easily enjoy the endless sporting pursuits that Vermont has to offer without fear of causing irreparable hearing damage.

On May 11, Senate Bill 281 (S. 281) – a bill that modifies the manners and methods for the use of dogs while pursuing coyotes – was sent to Governor Phil Scott’s desk for a signature, but what’s really worth highlighting is the favorable amendment that was included within the bill. Introduced by Representative George Till and led by Vermont Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chair Representative Pat Brennan, an amendment authorizing the use of suppressors while hunting was incorporated into S. 281.

The amount of movement that the amendment saw over the past two weeks was an event in and of itself. After being raised on the House floor on May 4, the amendment was sent to the House Committee on Judiciary for consideration. After receiving a favorable recommendation in Committee, the amendment was sent back to the House floor. On May 10, the House voted in favor of the amended version of the bill, and it was sent to the Senate for concurrence. The following day, on May 11, S. 281 passed the Senate and was sent to Governor Scott’s desk.

Suppressor ownership is a growing trend in America as an ever-increasing number of sportsmen and women are welcoming the increased hearing protection. According to data from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, suppressor ownership and use has expanded rapidly in recent years with over 620,000 more suppressors being in circulation in 2021 than were in 2020. The desire to protect one’s hearing does not stop at the firearms range – it extends into the field. Once enacted, Vermont’s sportsmen and women will be able to protect themselves from irreparable hearing loss while hunting.

CSF thanks Representatives Brennan and Till for their tireless efforts in amending S. 281 to include this pro-suppressor provision. Additional updates will be provided upon the Governor’s signature.

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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