Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin signed a Fish and Wildlife bill last week that included language to legalize suppressors and repeal one of the oldest bans in the nation on the devices.
The bill was introduced to the House in February as a standalone measure before being rolled into larger Senate economic development package and finally into the House F&W measure which passed the legislature with broad support. Vermont’s prohibition on silencers and suppressors predated the National Firearms Act.
The legislation, signed by Shumlin on June 17, was introduced by Rep. Pat Brennan, R-Colchester, who championed the devices for safety and target shooting.
Brennan’s language in the measure, HB 5, strikes the long-time ban on manufacture, sale or possession of gun silencers, and replaces 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 proposal allowed for their use in hunting, that reform has been stripped over concerns by the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department of poaching. Further, use of the devices by civilians will be limited to “sport shooting ranges.”
The National Rifle Association, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, a multitude of state gun rights groups, and the American Suppressor Association championed the legislation, which could potentially mean jobs for Vermont-based defense contractor General Dynamics.