The measure, introduced by Sen. Marv Hagedorn, R-Meridian, would exempt silencers that are manufactured in Idaho from federal regulation.
Hagedorn said he sees it as a public health issue. The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare spent almost $700,000 on hearing loss for Medicaid patients last year, he said. Of that, more than $330,000 was because of shooting-related impairments – suggesting that nearly half of all hearing loss in Idaho might be related to shooting activities.
The Senate State Affairs Committee will hear the bill.
“Anybody can buy a suppressor now, but there’s a $200 (federal) tax and about an eight-month wait for the permit to be approved,” Hagedorn said. “In the meantime, their hearing is being damaged. It only takes one shot for your hearing to start to degrade. It actually breaks the hairs off in the cochlea.”
An average gunshot is 145 decibels, he said. A suppressor can decrease that by about 30 percent; it doesn’t silence the shot completely, but drops it to the level of a lawn mower, for instance.
Ear protectors aren’t really a viable option for Idaho hunters, he said, so creating a simple process for purchasing silencers is one way to offer relief.