2014 Georgia Legislative Session: NRA Backs Suppressors For Hunting
No legislation for deer hunters as WRD works on 10-year deer management plan.
It’s been a quiet legislative session when it comes to sportsmen’s issues. State representatives and senators have gone about doing the public’s business in Atlanta, and there are hundreds of new laws being debated at the state capitol right now, just very few that have anything to do with hunting or fishing.
Generally, that’s good news, as often sportsmen have to spend energy fighting proposed laws that are bad for the resources or for hunters and anglers.
While quiet is generally good, this year there’s a large percentage of deer hunters who probably wouldn’t mind some attention. There is concern from many who feel the quality of their deer hunting has plummeted over the past decade. Legislative watchers we spoke to said any action on deer hunting, like an adjustment in the deer limit, is unlikely this legislative session because the Wildlife Resources Division (WRD) is currently working on a 10-year deer management plan that will be presented for public comment on June 27.
A subcommittee member working on that effort called to express concern that GON’s recent VOTES survey was being ignored—dismissed as an unscientific survey and biased with “squeaky wheels.” Personally, I find that interesting, since it used to be that WRD would call GON and ask us to include particular questions on our survey because our VOTES results so closely tracked the results of their scientific surveys.
You might recall that this year more than 71 percent of the 1,650 responses to the survey said the current deer limit is too high.
Regardless, we’re going to get a 10-year deer management plan we can comment on. We will be sure to publish the dates and locations of eight August public meetings in time to let sportsmen make plans to attend.
Meanwhile, a piece of legislation active this session that could impact sportsmen is Senate Bill 93, sponsored by Sen. Bill Heath (R-Breman). SB 93 would allow hunting with guns equipped with noise suppressors (also known as silencers, although these devices on a deer rifle would only make the gun shot quieter, not silent.)
SB 93 passed the Senate by a vote of 43-10 on Feb. 26, and it’s now awaiting action by the House of Representatives.
Similar bills to legalize suppressors for hunting guns have been introduced in the past and have met with opposition, some of it from hunters. The main concern seems to be that quieter guns would make it easier for poachers and trespassers to get away with breaking the law.
The NRA describes SB 93 as an important pro-hunting bill. In its legislative update for Georgia, the NRA asks members to support SB 93, saying:
“Currently, more than half of the states across the country permit hunters to use suppressors while hunting. There are numerous benefits to hunting with suppressed firearms, including:
“Elimination of noise complaints frequently used as an excuse to close hunting lands throughout the country, resulting in the protection of hunting areas well into the future.
“Reduction of recoil and muzzle rise resulting in increased accuracy of hunters. More accurate shooting in the field means fewer wounded and lost animals, a good thing for both hunters and wildlife.
“Reduction in muzzle report to hearing-safe levels, limiting the risk that the hunter or anyone with the hunter will suffer permanent hearing loss if they fail to use hearing protection.
“Recently, Arizona, Oklahoma, Indiana, North Carolina and Texas adopted new rules allowing for the use of suppressors while hunting. It’s time that hunters in Georgia are able to enjoy the same opportunities available to sportsmen in more than half of the country.”
SB 93 includes provisions to make using a suppressor for poaching activities more unattractive for law-breakers. If passed, anyone caught hunting without landowner permission, hunting in an area that is closed for hunting or out of season or at night with a firearm equipped with a suppressor would lose their hunting rights for three years.
To keep up with legislation or to search to see if anything has been introduced that might affect you, visit www.legis.ga.gov.
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Whether it’s a threat to your guns, concern about the deer limit, or maybe there’s other Georgia state legislation on your radar, you have to let your state senator and house representative know how you feel.
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