House Bill 174 was tabled in the state Senate Judiciary Committee; however, there is an effort underway to get the bill out of committee. The major stumbling block was opposition by landowners, based on a lack of accurate information, that suppressors actually “silenced” firearms and would enable poachers. The Montana Stockgrowers Association (MSGA) initially testified in opposition to HB 174. Based on a newfound understanding of the facts about suppressors and a subsequent reevaluation of their position, the MSGA has submitted a letter to the committee withdrawing their opposition to this bill. This development creates an opportunity to “take HB 174 off the table” and move it out of committee. HB 174 passed in the state House by a 73 to 26 vote on February 11.
HB 174, sponsored by state Representative Krayton Kerns (R-58), would legalize the possession and use of suppressors by a person in the field or forest. Firearm suppressors are legal under both federal and state law but their use for hunting and/or shooting outside a range is prohibited. HB 174 would legalize the use of suppressors in the field by repealing Section 87-3-123, MCA.
Anyone who has ever fired a gun knows that gunfire is loud. It can cause immediate and permanent hearing loss. While suppressors do not eliminate the sound of a firearm, they do reduce the muzzle report of the gun much in the same way that a muffler reduces exhaust noise from a car or truck. There are many benefits to suppressors: they can increase accuracy, they make shooting more enjoyable by lessening felt recoil and reducing muzzle blast, they protect shooters’ hearing, and they help to reduce noise complaints from neighbors.
Please urge members of the Senate Judiciary Committee to support HB 174 by sending them an e-mail by clicking here. In addition, please call the Information Desk at (406) 444-4800 and leave a message for the whole committee to support HB 174. Thank you for your efforts!