Vermont bill to allow civilian ownership of suppressors in final stages

A bid to make Vermont the 40th state to allow for the ownership of suppressors – and possibly bring jobs to the state in return – is in its final push to becoming law.

The bill was introduced to the House in February as a standalone measure before being rolled into larger Senate economic development package which passed that body unanimously on April 10 before seeing the a 141-2 roll call Tuesday. It now heads to a conference committee for final consideration.

While it would repeal one of the oldest bans in the nation on the devices, established even before the implementation of the National Firearms Act that regulates them on a federal level, if the bill is successful it could also bring a bump in employment.

“From what we understand, this would be bringing jobs to Vermont,” House Commerce and Economic Development Committee vice chair Mike Marcotte, R-Coventry, told Seven Days Vermont, citing a possible expansion to allow the manufacture of suppressors by defense contractor General Dynamics who has facilities in the state but currently cannot fulfill contracts for suppressors at those plants due to state law.

Vermont established its ban on suppressors in 1912, just three years after the first commercially available sound muffling device, Hiram Maxim’s Silencer was patented. Now, the century-old prohibition could fall over increased safety awareness and sound abatement concerns.

“The ranges in Vermont and around the country have come under pretty close scrutiny for noise violations,” said Rep. Pat Brennan, R-Colchester, the bill’s original sponsor.

Brennan’s language in the Senate bill, should it remain, would strike the long-time ban on manufacture, use, sale or possession of gun silencers, and replace it with new language that would allow all of the above so long as it remains inside the current federal framework as regulated by the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. While Brennan’s initial bill allowed for their use in hunting, that reform has been stripped over concerns by the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department of poaching.

Nonetheless, the move to bring suppressors to a state that has banned them almost from the start has seen little opposition from the Green Mountain State’s small but vocal gun control group, Gun Sense Vermont, who is neutral on the legislation.

Pro-gun groups such as the Vermont Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs as well as suppressor trade organizations, support the measure.

“We have been working to legalize suppressors in Vermont for years, and are very excited to finally see movement on the issue,” Knox Williams, president of the American Suppressor Association, told Guns.com Thursday, saying the move to end the historic prohibition on the devices could be in its final push.

“The House did a tremendous job amending by Rep. Brennan’s language into the Senate economic development bill. We now look to the Senate to accept the amendment, which would give law-abiding citizens an opportunity to shoot in a safer manner,” Williams said.

Wyoming, who has a similar population to Vermont but allows suppressors, has more than 2,000 registered in the state while, Vermont’s neighbor, New Hampshire, also part of the majority of states that do not prohibit otherwise lawful devices, has more than twice that amount.