Oklahoma House Passes Bills Allowing Suppressor Use for Hunting and Gun Purchases in States of Emergency
April 30, 2012
Two NRA-backed bills squeaked through the legislative deadline in Oklahoma’s House of Representatives on Friday and are now on their way back to the Senate for approval.
Senate Bill 1760, created by Senator Anthony Sykes (R – 24) and Representative T.W. Shannon (R – 62), is actually an update to language previously used in a good-faith bill for gun-owners in the event of a declared state of emergency. The Oklahoma Riot Control and Prevention Act had provisions to protect a person’s right to self-defense and defense of others in these states of emergency, but they left out language that would specifically allow the acquisition of firearms as part of the self-defense process. This is where SB 1760 steps in, as the engrossed summary of the bill states:
“SB 1760 amends the Oklahoma Riot Control and Prevention Act by providing that nothing in the act is to be construed to allow any official of a municipal or state entity to prohibit or suspend the sale, ownership, possession, transportation, carrying, transfer and storage of firearms, ammunition and ammunition accessories during a declared state of emergency.”
Rep. Shannon stated, “In a situation where a riot is severe enough that the governor declares a state of emergency, citizens in the affected area will likely have much greater need for self-defense than at any other time. It makes no sense to force those law-abiding citizens caught in a bad situation to disarm when they may be threatened with violence by lawless individuals.” SB 1760 was approved unanimously, 84 to 0. Without doubt, much news and opinion of this Second Amendment protection has been very positive.
Senate Bill 1743 relates to an issue that brings up a bit more ire from state to state: suppressors. This bill, from Senator Steve Russell (R – 45) and Representative Leslie Osborn (R – 47) is also called the “Landowner’s Hunting Freedom Act” would allow landowners and guests on their property to use legal suppressors on their firearms for hunting (it would not allow suppressed hunting on public land). It doesn’t take much imagination to see where “enabling” the use of NFA items would raise some hackles, but even this thankfully flew through the House in a 77 to 5 vote.
The argument for an increased usage of suppressors, regardless of their place of use, is that they will cut down tremendously on noise complaints. As has been noted countless times before, noise complaints are becoming the primary excuse to shut down shooting ranges and kick legal shooters off hunting land across the U.S. Suppressors, despite their silly, unearned “bad” reputation from pop culture and the media, are an extraordinarily useful tool in keeping relative peace between shooters, their neighbors, and the environment. This is partly why in Europe, a place frequently considered in the U.S. to be “anti-gun”, suppressors are not only readily obtainable; they’re encouraged.
Of course, not everyone has been supportive. Tony Clark, president of the Oklahoma State Game Warden Association, was quoted in The Oklahoman as saying, “We are pro-gun and pro-hunting, but we are definitely opposed to that bill. With us, it’s kind of a safety issue. How would you like to be in law enforcement and not know where gunshots are coming from?” User “Paul Kersey” parroted this with his comment on the article: “The negative of allowing [suppressors] on private land is poachers WILL take advantage of this and it will make it MUCH harder for the game wardens to pinpoint them. Thank God it won’t be allowed on public land… I think they should be allowed for target shooting only and the Class 3-type background check is definitely a must.”
In response to these kinds of critiques, Sen. Russell said, “They have no factual basis other than they just don’t feel good about it.” Darren La Sorte of the NRA-ILA put his counterpoint to the possible poaching “problem” this way:
“Some will argue that the legalization of suppressor use while hunting will increase the incidents of poaching, but the experience of the many states that allow the practice clearly proves them wrong. Would these opponents mandate the use of the .338 Lapua with a muzzle brake in order for shots to be heard from the greatest possible distance? Is the diminutive .243 Win. Simply too quiet? As one suppressor advocate in Montana asked earlier this year during the legislative session, should all bow hunters be required to sound an air horn every time they release an arrow in order to alert any nearby wardens? The reality is, the less muzzle noise heard by the non-hunting public, the better off we all are.”
The NRA-ILA asks interested parties to contact their Senator and urge them to support SB 1743 and SB 1760. Contact information for Oklahoma elected officials can be found here.
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