Suppressor legalization bill heads to Illinois Senate floor

A bill to strike the prohibition of silencers in Illinois, one of the eight states that still outlaws the item, made it through committee this week and may get a vote in the Senate.

With a 7-5 approval Tuesday by the Senate Judiciary committee, the measure faces an uphill fight to gain enough momentum to pass on the floor. Needing a two-thirds vote to clear the Senate due to its mandate to take effect immediately upon signature by the governor, the bill has to garner 36 votes in a chamber that is controlled 39-20 by Democrats.

However, the bill, SB 206, has Sen. Gary Forby, a Southern Illinois Democrat, as its chief co-sponsor and had more than 400 people file witness slips supporting the move while just 68 went on record opposing it. Further, the proposal came from House with significant bipartisan support.

The bill would amend Illinois law on the use of a silencer or other device to muffle or mute the sound of a report resulting from the firing of any gun. It would still require the device meet all federal regulations.

Gun rights groups including the Illinois State Rifle Association, National Shooting Sports Foundation, American Suppressor Association and National Rifle Association have been sending out alerts urging support for the legislation. Such organizations characterize silencers as safety devices.

Should the measure make it to Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner’s desk, it may be favorably received, according to SilencerCo’s chief executive officer Josh Waldron, who spoke to in April.

“States that we’ve never thought possible like Illinois is gaining a lot of momentum and there’s a very high probability that Illinois will be another state here as well as Massachusetts,” said Waldron. “I’ve sat down with both of those governors in both of those states and they’ve promised to sign the bill if I can get it to their desks.”

The National Firearm Act-regulated devices are legal for citizens to use in 42 states and a bipartisan group of legislators and advocates in Illinois have in recent years progressively supported adding the Land of Lincoln to that list, passing legislation in the House in June to do just that.

Earlier this year, Iowa legalized suppressor ownership for civilians while Minnesota and Vermont did so in 2015.

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