Working to Clear Hurdles for Maine’s Suppressed Hunting Community

Contact: Joe Mullin, Assistant Manager, Northeastern States

Highlights

  • On March 24, the Maine Committee on Inland Fisheries and Wildlife convened for a meeting to discuss Legislative Document 365 (LD 635) – legislation spearheaded by Maine Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chair Senator Trey Stewart, which would eliminate the need to acquire a permit from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) in order to hunt with a firearm suppressor.
  • 40 states authorize suppressors to be used for hunting, but Maine is the only one to require an additional step in which hunters must first submit a payment and application to the MDIFW to obtain an additional permit.
  • This bill represents a culmination of years of coordination by the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) to spearhead efforts with Caucus leaders, the MDIFW, and in-state and national partners toward the removal of this unnecessary permitting process.
  • In conjunction with working alongside Senator Stewart toward the introduction of this bill, CSF’s Joe Mullin, Assistant Manager, Northeastern States, submitted a letter of support for LD 635 and spoke in favor of it during the March 24 Committee hearing.

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 being in circulation in 2020 than 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 must go through an additional hurdle that no other state requires – an additional permit. LD 635 intends to eliminate this additional 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.

As previously reported, the process one must go through in purchasing a firearm suppressor is nothing short of cumbersome. In addition to completing the many steps required to purchase and possess a firearms suppressor at the federal level, Maine law requires those who wish to hunt suppressed to pay a $12 fee and apply for a permit. Essentially, after proceeding through the lengthy process to merely buy a suppressor, hunters in Maine have to go through an additional step that costs more of their time and money. The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) must then dedicate staff time and resources to reviewing each application. As the MDIFW stated in its testimony, “Since 2015 the Department has issued in excess of 500 permits, with new permit applications coming in almost weekly. To date, no permit has been denied, nor has a permit been revoked.”

Contrary to what is portrayed on television and in the movies, suppressors do not, in fact, “silence” shots from firearms, but rather trap the expanding gasses at the muzzle, allowing them to slowly cool, much like a car’s muffler. However, based on misconceptions and misunderstandings, those opposed to the use of suppressors often raise concerns of increased poaching. The truth is that states which have recently legalized the use of suppressors have seen no increases in poaching, largely due to the fact that suppressors are such highly regulated devices. Suppressors are already legal for use while hunting in Maine, and LD 635 would not make it “easier” for poachers to break the law. Rather, this bill would serve the sole purpose of reducing barriers to allow sportsmen and women to protect their hearing while pursuing game.

The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation’s Joe Mullin, Assistant Manager, Northeastern States, submitted a letter of support to the Committee on Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and testified in favor of LD 635 during its March 24 hearing. CSF will continue to remain engaged on the issue, and updates will be provided as they are made available.

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