House Bill 1282, sponsored by state Representative Joe Heilman (R-45), would allow hunters in North Dakota to use lawfully possessed suppressors (also referred to as silencers) on firearms while hunting. This legislation passed in the state House by a 90-2 vote on January 31 and in the state Senate by a 29-17 vote on March 18. HB 1282 will now go to Governor Jack Dalrymple (R) for his signature.
Currently, more than half of the states allow hunters to use suppressors while hunting, and this legislation is long overdue in North Dakota. There are numerous benefits to hunting with suppressed firearms, including:
- Increased use of suppressors will help to eliminate noise complaints that are frequently an excuse to close hunting lands throughout the country. This will protect hunting areas well into the future.
- Using a suppressor while hunting will reduce recoil and muzzle rise to help increase the accuracy of hunters. More accurate shooting in the field means fewer wounded and lost animals--a good thing for hunters and wildlife.
- While suppressors do not eliminate the sound of a firearm, they do reduce the muzzle report in a manner similar to the way that a muffler reduces exhaust noise from a vehicle. Suppressors simply help to protect against hearing loss.
Recently, Arizona, Oklahoma, Texas and Wyoming adopted new laws or rules allowing for use of suppressors when hunting game. While the North Dakota Game and Fish Department currently allows the use of lawfully possessed suppressors when hunting, there is nothing in state statute that codifies this practice. It’s time that hunters in North Dakota are guaranteed the same opportunities available to sportsmen in more than half of the country.