Will Fear or Facts Decide Hunting Policy in Oklahoma?

Posted on March 30, 2012

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 Please Contact House Agriculture Committee Members TODAY and Urge Them to Support Common Sense Hunting Reforms

After receiving overwhelming approval in the Senate by a 40 to 3 vote, Senate Bill1743 has come under attack from some state game wardens, and needs your help to pass in the House Agriculture, Wildlife and Environment Committee.  Known as the “Landowner's Hunting Freedom Act,” this important pro-hunting legislation would allow Oklahoma landowners and their guests to use lawfully-possessed suppressors (also referred to as silencers) on firearms for hunting.  Some state game wardens are taking a page out of the anti-gunners’ playbook, spreading false and unfounded concerns to derail this common sense reform. Opposing game wardens are pressuring Committee members to oppose the bill.  It is important that you contact Committee members TODAY, urging them to base their legislative decisions on fact and not fear.

Firearm suppressors are already legal in the Sooner State. Law-abiding Oklahomans currently own and use firearm suppressors at shooting ranges or for target practice in the fields or woods. Hunting is the only firearm-related activity for which suppressors remain illegal is hunting, and the National Rifle Association seeks to repeal this unnecessary restriction in Oklahoma for landowners on their own private property and their invited guests.

Some game wardens have begun to claim that poaching is a major concern and reason for their opposition to SB 1743.  However, in his Senate bill presentation, bill author Senator Steve Russell (R-45) testified that he asked the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation for the number of poaching incidents involving the use of firearm suppressors over the last twenty years and never received an answer to his inquiry.  The bottom line is that there is no problem with poaching using suppressors in any state.  In fact, a number of states are expanding suppressor use for hunting, realizing the many benefits that the sound-muffling devices provide.  Yesterday, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission unanimously approved allowing the use of suppressors to hunt all game species, following Arizona’s House Bill 2728 that was signed into law the same day.   

Every state contiguous to Oklahoma now allows suppressors while hunting – leaving Oklahoma an island with an unnecessary ban affecting law-abiding hunters.

Here are the facts about firearm suppressors:

1.  To legally own a suppressor, one must pass a federal background check; submit an application, fingerprints and passport-style photos to the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; pay a $200 federal tax stamp for each suppressor and wait an average of six months before being able to lawfully possess a firearm suppressor;

2.  Illegal possession of a suppressor can result in a federal felony charge with the possibility of substantial fines and prison time;

3.  Suppressors only muffle the sound of the shot at the point where the gun is fired.  Use of a suppressor will not silence the sound of the firearm down range.  Standard ammunition fired from a suppressed firearm will still break the sound barrier hundreds of yards away, and will result in that familiar “crack” that can be heard further down field or on the next farm;

4.  Suppressed firearms can dramatically improve one’s hunting and shooting experience by helping to reduce felt recoil, muzzle blast and trigger flinch.  This helps in eliminating the "flinch mechanism" that is most often responsible for poorly placed shots.  More accurate shooting while hunting will ensure more humane kills and increased chances of recovering game.  The availability of suppressor use while hunting is especially beneficial to less experienced hunters and shooters, and is a valuable tool in recruiting new hunters, including youths and females;

5.  Suppressor use helps to protect hearing.  Most suppressors make the noise associated with gunfire "hearing safe," while unsuppressed fire can cause life-long, permanent hearing loss and other hearing disorders, such as tinnitus.

The NRA has a serious concern that legislators are being asked to decide that laws should be written for the convenience of government officials (in this case, game wardens) rather than the health, safety and well-being of law-abiding citizens.  When this happens, it is easy to argue that our government has lost its way.

The members of the House Agriculture, Wildlife, and Environment Committee need to hear from you TODAY.  Contact members of this committee, especially the chairman, and respectfully urge them to give SB 1743 a committee hearing and the votes of support necessary to bring the “Landowners’ Hunting Freedom Act” to the full House. Contact information for this committee can be found by clicking here.

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