Texas considering 'sound suppressors' on hunting rifles

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by JASON WHITELY

Bio | Email | Follow: @jasonwhitely

WFAA

Posted on March 13, 2012 at 11:06 PM

Updated Tuesday, Mar 13 at 11:08 PM

DALLAS - A quarter century of hunting big game has taken its toll on Brad Cooksey.

"I know from 25 years of using guns, I have a constant ringing in my ears right now," he said.

He has hunted across the country, and even as far away as inside the Arctic Circle in Alaska.

Cooksey said he has no plans of giving up the sport, because wild game is all his family eats.

"I have not bought any red meat at the store in two years," said Lisa Cooksey, Brad's wife. "We eat all wild game."

That's why Cooksey supports a proposal by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to permit sound suppressors on the end of rifles.

The devices look like silencers, but act more like mufflers on a car.

"It would cut the sound down and make it where people wouldn't jump as they're pulling the trigger," Cooksey said.

News 8 took a noise meter to a gun range to measure the sound of a rifle firing.

The AR-15 used for the experiment recorded 110 decibels when fired without the suppressor. That's about the same noise level as a siren on a fire engine.

When a suppressor was added to the end of the rifle barrel at the indoor gun range, the noise meter recorded a level of 105 decibels.

Experts said that's because the test happened inside a room allowing the noise to echo. If the experiment were conducted outside, experts explained, the suppressor is supposed to make the weapon considerably quieter - similar to that of a firecracker.

But the state proposal has put safety in the crosshairs.

"This is not a gun control issue," said Jeff Hightower, a Dallas attorney who has represented victims of hunting accidents.

Suppressors are unnecessary and unsafe, he added.

"If you can't hear other hunters and don't know they are on property, near your hunting area, you certainly have greater risk of a hunting accident," Hightower said.

State game wardens have even expressed concern that sound suppressors on rifles could increase poaching.

Still, most expect the state to approve the devices at the end of the month, which is a decision Cooksey believes will only help hunters preserve their hearing.

E-mail jwhitely@wfaa.com

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