Florida Fish and Wildlife considers legalizing use of gun silencers, firearm suppressors

FWC will discuss legalizing silencers on Sept. 10

LAKE WORTH, Fla. -- - Movie directors use them in just about every blockbuster action movie when a spy kills someone with a gun.

Now Florida is considering legalizing the use of gun silencers in the state for hunters.

"It goes all back to that Hollywood hitman thing. Only bad guys have them," said Chuck Papp who hunts and manages Palm Beach Shooting Center in Lake Worth.

Papp likes to refer to silencers as "suppressors," that is how they are known in the gun world.

The devices are illegal to use in the Sunshine State, but Florida Fish and Wildlife is now considering legalizing silencers.

"People sometimes have the wrong idea of what it actually does. You can still hear the gunshot," said Papp.

The difference for many hunters like Papp all comes down to protecting his ears.

"There's a lot of people who are actually hunters who, if you talk to them, over the course of the years have actually suffered hearing loss because of their firearm going off while they're participating in hunting," said Papp.

While hunters say suppressors are just a tool that makes what they do safer, opponents of the legalization of silencer use say it makes firearms even more dangerous.

"Is it about saving ears or is it about saving lives?" questioned Angela Williams, a gun control advocate who runs Mothers Against Murderers.

Williams is concerned people will not hear the sound of guns firing and feels that could turn deadly. She also thinks legalizing the use of silencers is just a move by the gun industry to ramp up sales.    

"My biggest worry is if they do legalize it, it might get in the wrong hands," said Williams.

Papp said silencers or suppressors are highly regulated and expensive to obtain.

"All it is, is just another tool in some hunter's backpack," said Papp.

Floridians can legally own suppressors or silencers but cannot use them in the state.

Other states have legalized the use of the device and Florida will discuss doing that at a meeting in Kissimmee on September 10th.