DAYTON, Ohio (AP) - The number of people registering silencers for firearms in Ohio is on the way up.
Silencers are one of the fastest-growing segments of the firearms market - and registrations skyrocketed in Ohio last year.
Ohio saw the second-largest increase in suppressor registrations in the nation. Experts said interest in the devices could increase if state lawmakers decide to allow them to be used for hunting.
Zak Smith, foreground, and Shane Coppinger prepare to fire high-powered rifles fitted with suppressors at a rifle range west of Cheyenne, Wyo.
Firearms advocates said silencers reduce hearing problems related to loud gunfire and increase shooting accuracy. They said suppressors are safety devices that unfairly have a bad reputation.
"I believe the best reason to have them is for hearing protection," said Ryan Carr, owner of Sunbury-based RC Firearms, which sells the devices. "For this reason, hunting would be an excellent use of a silencer."
Some gun-control groups said they don't have a stance on permitting hunters to use suppressors.
Silencers are legal in most states, including West Virginia. They can be obtained from a licensed dealer by submitting the proper paperwork and passing a fairly lengthy screening process.
Between March 2012 and April 2013, registrations of silencers nationwide grew 37 percent to 494,452, according to a 2013 Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives report.
During that time frame, registrations in Ohio grew 144 percent to 25,353.