Hoosier hunters are also paying attention to Senate Bill 199, which would repeal a state law prohibiting the use of silencers while hunting. The proposed legislation, authored by Sen. Travis Holdman, R-Markle, would allow hunters to use silencers but would increase the penalty for hunters who use a silencer while hunting unlawfully.
It is similar to National Rifle Association-backed legislation that failed during the last session.
The reception to the proposed law is mixed among Hoosier hunters.
Gene Hopkins, president of the Indiana Sportsmen’s Roundtable, said he’s “a fence-sitter right now.”
He is troubled by the wording of the bill and that it may hurt the image of hunters.
“There is no such thing as a silencer,” he said. “It’s a suppressor.” Even with a suppressor, you still hear a gunshot, though perhaps not as loudly.
“I’m a hunter and I’m a landowner,” Hopkins said. “As a landowner, I want to know who’s back there. I want to hear the bang.”
Proponents assert that using the suppressors can decrease the noise level close to the hunters and prevent hearing damage, especially in young hunters.
Suppressors are expensive and also require a background check and $200 federal tax for purchase. The most likely beneficiaries of the bill are not hunters but gun accessory manufacturers who want to build a new market for their product.
Hopkins still thinks hunters need to be cognizant of the public perception of using silencers to hunt.
“There is the public perception,” Hopkins said. “If 90 percent of people think suppressors are going to encourage criminal activity, we do need to address that because perception is reality.”