Size doesn’t matter.
Don’t let anyone tell you differently.
It doesn’t matter the size of the animal as long as you’re talking silencers.
Originally, the Legislature killed (certainly no pun intended) a bill that would have allowed silencers for hunting in Wyoming.
Opposition to the bill in the Wyoming House stopped the bill, but the Senate resurrected a similar bill that would have allowed hunters to use silencers, but only for smaller game. The original bill had included hunting for larger game.
A Senate amendment would also allow the use of silencers and suppressors on automatic weapons, too — and not just for hunting.
We don’t oppose silencers because of the size of the game involved. We think silencers are wrong for Wyoming because of safety issues and the ethics of sport.
It’s probably reasonable to think that silencers — if they are to be misused — would be utilized to poach big game. So, making gun silencers illegal for hunting big game would make sense and has an internal logic about it.
Yet, that logic only goes so far.
If someone wants to poach big game, they’re going to do it regardless of laws. Since poaching is illegal, we doubt a poacher is going to not use a silencer just because it’s not legal for big game. After all, as long as you’re breaking one law, what’s another?
Instead, our concern has never really been about those who would break the law. Poachers who are breaking the law are probably already using silencers.
Our concern is for the people who follow the law but may inadvertently put others in danger.
We’re concerned that silencers and suppressors will allow residents to go out into the woods, shoot targets and no one in the area may know. The ability of some automatic weapons to fire off multiple rounds quickly means the public could be in a lot of danger without knowing it.
Silencers pose problems for two practical reasons.
First and foremost, the report of a gun is useful. The sound alerts other hunters to a gun being used in the area. It’s a warning to use extra caution. There simply is no substitute for it.
If silencers are used, that safety measure is taken away. The danger of hunting then increases.
Secondly, we wonder about those who employ silencers regularly. Let’s face it: There are a lot of tools at a hunter’s disposal that help give an advantage, including scopes. All of the gadgets and tools have one purpose: Giving hunters an extra advantage. Yet if hunters have the extra advantage but still aren’t effective, it might suggest they need more time practicing at a shooting range and less time in the field. We worry that silencers would be used by hunters who aren’t very good shots. And, silencing someone who is a poor shot seems like the makings of a very bad hunting story.
We believe these two reasons alone are enough for lawmakers to vote down the silencer bill. When you add poaching concerns on top of that, silencing the silencer bill seems to make sense, especially since hunting and tourism are a thriving, integral part of the Wyoming economy.
And yet maybe another important factor that should play a part in this discussion is that few hunters and groups, beyond those who are already keen on silencers, are asking for this change. This is not something that has been a pressing issue in the state. Instead, this is a push by a relatively small group of people.
It’s true that anything having to do with guns usually plays well in Wyoming, but many hunters and hunting groups have taken a longer view of silencers and suppressors. The safety concerns coupled with questions about how sportsman-like they are should be enough to give lawmakers pause.
So often in Wyoming, we remind folks — usually by bumper sticker — that we don’t care about how things are done in other states.
Could this be one of those times to take our own advice?