LANSING - Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette today issued a formal Attorney General Opinion stating that State law allows the use of noise suppressors by private citizens when authorized by the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
"Michigan citizens who comply with federal firearm regulations can use suppressors to protect their hearing and minimize noise disruptions in the surrounding areas," said Schuette.
Schuette concludes in Attorney General Opinion 7260 that only Michigan residents in full compliance with federal laws may possess a federally-registered suppressor, also commonly referred to as a muffler or silencer. Possession of a suppressor without the proper federal authorization remains a five-year felony under Michigan law.
Although suppressors do not completely eliminate the sound of a firearm, they do reduce the noise associated with gunfire in a manner similar to how a muffler reduces exhaust noise from a motor vehicle. Suppressors protect shooters' hearing and also reduce noise complaints from neighbors in the vicinity of firearm use, whether it is near a shooting range or hunting property. Thirty-seven states currently allow private ownership of suppressors, including Ohio, Indiana and Wisconsin.
"Noise suppressors are a useful tool for Michigan firearms enthusiasts and the rigorous federal licensing process serves as a safeguard to ensure only law-abiding citizens can be in possession," said Marquette County Sheriff Michael Lovelace.
"Michigan joins the majority of states allowing noise suppressors for lawful firearms users while continuing to afford law enforcement the ability to prosecute those who break the law and place public safety at risk," said Hillsdale County Prosecutor Neal Brady.
"The use of suppressors will help keep the peace in areas of lawful firearm use," said Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf. "While you can never completely silence a firearm, muffling the sound will be appreciated by neighbors in the vicinity of lawful firearm use."
"We thank Attorney General Schuette for this well-reasoned opinion, which will allow Michigan residents to possess suppressors in compliance with federal law," said Chuck Cunningham, NRA-ILA Director of State and Local Affairs. "Noise suppressors are an effective means of reducing hearing loss among shooters, and we are pleased that shooters in Michigan, like those in 38 other states, will now have the freedom to choose these useful safety devices."
"Attorney General Bill Schuette has now brought us into the mainstream by issuing an opinion allowing law abiding citizens of the State of Michigan to own sound suppressing devices for their firearms," said Joel Fulton, President of the Southside Sportsman Club. "It is considered rude to your neighbors to make excessive noise that disrupts their peace and quiet. We have mufflers on just about everything to reduce noise pollution."
It is the Attorney General's duty "to give his opinion upon all questions of law submitted to him by the legislature or either branch thereof, or by the governor . . . or any other state officer" (MCL 14.32). To fulfill that duty, Attorney General Schuette issues informational letters as well as formal Attorney General Opinions in response to requests from the legislature, state agencies, and the governor.
Attorney General Opinion 7260 was issued at the request of Senator Rick Jones, Senator Tonia Schuitmaker, Representative Mark Meadows, and Representative Kevin Cotter.
Formal opinions are available for review on the Attorney General's website, www.michigan.gov/agopinions.
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