Minnesota considers legalizing firearm silencers

Some Minnesota lawmakers favor lifting the state’s ban on firearm silencers that muffle the sounds of gunfire -- although not entirely.

The state’s House committee on Public Safety passed a measure Thursday night to legalize them. The Minneapolis Star Tribune said it is unclear how the bill will fare if it reaches the Senate. It is also not certain if Gov. Mark Dayton would sign it into law.

Silencers, also called “suppression devices,” are legal in 39 other states. Would-be buyers must pass a background check to acquire one.

“Okay, it’s fun day, gun day at the Capital,” committee chair Rep. Tony Cornish, a Republican, said as debate on the measure began.

Cornish said the suppressors should not hinder police “shot spotters” from tracing the sound of gunshots during investigations.

The paper said the bill’s sponsorm Rep. Mark Anderson, a Republican, wants to use a silencer when he goes duck hunting.

“If there’s days I’m standing out there with my waders on and I just make one shot, and as soon as I make that one shot, my ears are ringing every single time,” he said.

MyFoxTwinCities quoted supporters as telling the committee that guns fired with a silencer are still quite loud.

Andrew Rothman of the Gun Owners Civil Rights Alliance said: “140 decibels, eight times louder than a jackhammer. That’s about how loud a suppressed rifle can be.”

An opponent of the bill, Heather Martens of the group Protect Minnesota, told the legislators that silencers make it easier for criminals.

“Silencers are not designed for hearing protection,” she told the committee. “Silencers were designed to all people to commit murders and get away with it.”

But Knox Williams of the American Suppressors Association, an industry group, said when silencers are used in crimes, almost always the device has been illegally manufactured.