In My Opinion

Fred Grimm: Silencers for hunting may be overkill in Florida

For too long, Bambi has been allowed to sneak around, hardly making a sound. When some hunter, possibly under the influence of Jack Daniels, pops off an errant round, a deer — alert to the danger — simply runs like hell and vanishes in the woods.

Surely, you can see the inequity suffered by the huntsman as he strives to keep wildlife from running roughshod over the Florida countryside, terrorizing women and children.

Come Sept. 10, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission intends to right this asymmetrical unfairness. The commission, with a very big nudge from the gun lobby, is posed to allow hunters to attach silencers to their firearms.

Hunters have been forbidden the use of sound suppressors in Florida since 1957, which has put them at a terrible disadvantage, at least according to the American Suppressor Association, an industry group interested in “raising public awareness about the benefits and merits of suppressors.” Also, the ASA is interested in selling lots and lots of pricey sound muffling devices.

According to the website, “ASA will not rest until all 50 states legalize suppressor ownership and possession. As of March, 2014, there are 11 states to go.”

After the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission holds its September meeting in Kissimmee, there will be 10 to go — a grand day for inept hunters. Not so grand for deer, turkeys, squirrels, rabbits and quail.

Hunters have had to slouch after game with nothing more than semi-automatic rifles, night-vision goggles, ballistic scopes, laser rangefinders and four-wheel-drive ATVs. They find game with the help of camouflaged infrared motion sensor cameras strapped on trees. They can chase after hunting dogs equipped with GPS trackers.

Hunting gadgetry websites offer (“for just over $400”) stuff like the Blade 350 QX Quadcopter, a hunting drone that can “scout ahead several hundred yards.” Or, for $9,950, TrackPoint’s 750 Series Smart Rifle. “In the action-thriller The Bourne Legacy, Pentagon black ops assassin Aaron Cross takes down an airborne CIA drone with a rifle from more than a mile awhile. With TrackingPoint’s tech, anyone can perform such a trick,” the company promises. Actual skills should no longer matter.

Obviously, it’s unfair, after spending so much money on black ops hunting technology, to allow an errant shot to spook Bambi.

Silencer advocates say that muffled rifle cracks also would be a boon to homeowners near areas where hunters tromp around blasting animal-like objects. Worried moms will be spared the loud, unnerving retorts. Though a few unhappy homeowners have suggested that they prefer to hear the gunshots, so they can grab the kids and head for cover.

Silencers also would appeal to Florida civic leaders like Gov. Rick Scott, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and several members of the House of Representatives hierarchy, who were embarrassed last month by revelations they had been treated to luxury hunting excursions arranged by the state’s sugar lobbyists.

The thing about those hunting trips – the politicians wanted to keep them quiet. Very quiet. For these guys, when it comes to hunting junkets, silencers would be golden.

Read more Fred Grimm stories from the Miami Herald

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