House OKs hunting with sound mufflers

Hunters should be able to outfit their rifles and shotguns with sound suppressors to hunt birds and other wild animals, according to a bill passed Wednesday in the Louisiana House.

House Bill 186 sponsored by Rep. Cameron Henry, R-Metairie, expands a state law that already allows hunters to use suppressors when hunting nuisance species, such as beaver and nutria.

While there is some ambiguity over whether suppressors are the same as silencers, Henry assured his fellow lawmakers that he wasn’t talking about the kind of thing used by assassins in action movies.

The devices cut down on the sound but are nowhere near silent, he said.

“This is about mitigating the noise and preventing hearing loss,” Henry said.

State Rep. Terry Landry, D-New Iberia, a former State Police commander, argued an uptick in the prevalence of quieter guns could lead to accidents and possibly fatalities.

State Rep. Austin Badon, D-New Orleans, was concerned about suppressors falling in the hands of criminals.

“I don’t know why we need silencers to hunt birds,” Badon said.

He later suggested if HB186 was really about noise mitigation and preventing against hearing loss, hunters could use ear plugs or ear muffs.

“We don’t need this bill,” he said.

Henry brushed off those concerns, telling his colleagues he wouldn’t have sponsored the bill if he was concerned about those scenarios.

“The fact that several other states allow this makes me feel better,” he said.

He added HB186 does not change the lengthy process hunters have to go through to legally purchase suppressors.

State Rep. Barry Ivey, R-Central, said it takes between six and nine months for a hunter to get a suppressor.

He said the process requires a background check and finger print analysis before suppressor permits are issued.

“So these are some of the most law-abiding citizens,” that are getting suppressors, Ivey said. “They simply suppress the sound, they don’t eliminate it.”

House Bill 186 passed on a 82-15 vote. It heads to the Senate for further consideration.