Thursday, April 24, 2014
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Suppressors and Hunting Rule Changes by TPWL

Changes Proposed to Game Animal Hunting Rules to Allow Suppressed Firearms



The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission is in the process of reviewing a rule change which would allow hunters to shoot Texas game animals using a firearm outfitted with a legally-owned suppressor.


Other states were polled and of the 33 states returning the inquiry, 14 of those states currently allow the use of suppressed firearms for game hunting purposes.


Current Texas law does not restrict the use of suppressors in the field when hunting non-game species such as exotic game, wild hogs, or coyotes; so the major addition would include mule and white-tail deer and antelope.


What’s a suppressor?   Incorrectly called “Silencers”, a suppressor is a device, controlled by federal law through BATF which dampens the sound of gunfire.   TSRA Legislative Committee Vice Chair commented, “If firearms were invented today, OSHA would require guns to include a suppressor to protect shooters from hearing damage.”


How can an individual purchase a suppressor?   Several companies manufacture suppressors for rifles and handguns and the average retail cost runs between $700-$800.   However, the individual will not take immediate possession of their suppressor; not until the purchaser receives final approval from BATF.   Both the purchaser and their suppressor will then be registered with the BATF.  


Step one is to complete the application process.   The application must include the signature of a Chief Law Enforcement Officer (CLEO) in the county of residence.  This could be the county sheriff, police chief, or even the district attorney.  If the application is not signed by the CLEO, the quest for a suppressor stops.  Finding a signer for your application is not always easy.


When all is complete, including finger prints for the background check, the application and a one-time check for $200 are mailed to BATF and the wait begins. Processing time can take up to 6 months for a perfectly prepared application package.  


Note:  It is possible to shelter and to by-pass some of the steps involved in acquiring class III devices within a trust or corporation, speak with your family lawyer to decide what's right for you. 


Don't forget to add-in the cost for a gunsmith to thread your barrell.   The resale of a suppressor from one individual to another requires these same steps.   A suppressor remains registered in the name of the owner until legally transferred.    The penalty for an illegal suppressor or an illegal transfer is severe.  


Suppressors are often favored by target shooters during practice and by novice shooters concerned with flinch and noise.  Hunters like having a suppressed rifle, particularly in a hunting blind where noise is contained and amplified. 


Game wardens do not rely solely on noise as an alert to poaching or illegal hunting.  Game could be taken illegally any number of ways including traps, bows, and cross-bows.  A suppressed rifle shot is simply easier on the shooter and any neighbors and livestock within ear-shot.


The proposed rule change was discussed to during the January 25th TPWL Commission meeting and will be posted in the Texas Register as required by law.  


What opposition there is appears to center around misinformation about suppressors in general and what they actually do.  Remember a suppressor only dampens noise; there is no “silencer”.


Public input on this issue is not yet available but will be soon at the link below:


             Click here: TPWD: Opportunities for Comment






Alice Tripp, Legislative Director


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