Safety concerns prompt Central Florida residents to challenge hunting-with-silencers decision

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Citing safety concerns, three Floridians filed a legal challenge to a recent state decision allowing the use of silencers by hunters while shooting game animals such as deer, wild turkey, and quail.

Last week, Charles W. O’Neal, Peri Sedigh and Timothy Orrange Jr., all from Seminole County, filed a challenge with the state Division of Administrative Hearings. They are disputing the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission recommendation to lift a 57-year-old ban on silencers on rifles and pistols.

Last month, the commission approved the use of silencers, known as noise suppressors, which supporters claim protect the hearing of hunters and can help introduce others to the sport.

However, the Seminole residents, in their eight-page challenge, said as property owners of land abutting woodlands, hike or paddleboard, they have concerns about safety when unable to hear shots. The challenge pointed to gunshot wound statistics in Florida.

“Clearly, the ban removal will only add to these figures as the once-thundering crack of a firearm, sending warning to hikers, nature lovers and wildlife alike that hunters are nearby, will be reduced, muffled or altogether silenced,” the filing says. “Even if the sound of the report from a hunting rifle or pistol is reduced by … (30) decibels or less, silencers create a zone in which a person in the woods or in their backyards can be within range of a bullet without knowing that hunters are nearby.”

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.