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Federal legislation would make firearm sound suppressors legal


A few years ago after noticing that my own hearing was in a terrible state of decline and visiting my doctor and a specialist, I wrote a story about this national health crisis: hearing loss.

The startling bottom line to the story was that most of this hearing loss as preventable and caused by recreational use of firearms. Even for those of us who are pretty diligent about using hearing protection end up being around enough gunfire without protection that we experience dramatic declines in our hearing by middle-age.

We’re part of the “Huh?” generation. One of our most used sentences is “What? I didn’t hear you.”

The Hearing Protection Act of 2017 (HR 367) was introduced into the federal House of Representatives in Oct., 2016, and is finally starting to gain traction under the new administration. The bill would legalize over-the-sale purchases of sound suppressors/silencers, remove the federal restrictions on their use, and end the onerous tax and permit process to own and use suppressors.

The liberal, non-gun owning California legislators and populace will recoil in horror at the idea of this bill. Can’t you hear their chorus of stupidity: “Silencers are only used on guns to execute people. They have no place in civilized society.”

First, most “silencers” don’t make firearms silent like in those James Bond movies. Second, they are bulky contraptions that add to the size and weight of guns, but reduce the muzzle blast to less damaging levels.

Liberals have mandated helmets for motorcyclists, a ban on cell phone use while driving, banned plastic bags to save the environment, and voted for outlandish taxes on cigarettes to “protect” public health. But they must not care about the health of hunters and shooters or they would mandate the use of suppressors.

What do you think are the odds a bill legalizing suppressors will be introduced or passed in California?

Will fishing licenses be good for

12 months from date of purchase?

The Department of Fish and Wildlife has repeatedly battled sportfishing groups not to pass legislation or implement a policy change that would allow annual fishing licenses to be valid for 12 months from the date of purchase.

The agency makes a host of financial excuses why it’s a bad idea, but they refuse to take into consideration what would be best deal for the license buyer. No surprise there. This is the same agency that has stood by idle while fishing license sales have plummeted over the last 50 years from 2 1/2 million to about a million.

Two bills are working their way through the legislature (AB 986 and SB 187) that would force the DFW to sell annual fishing licenses that would be valid for 12 months from the date of purchase. The assembly bill is out of the policy committee, while the Senate bill is slated to be heard in committee April 25.

I bet the DFW top brass is lobbying against this bill behind the scenes.

Two guzzler repair updates

First, the High Desert Chapter of Quail Forever needs volunteers to help rebuild two wildlife guzzlers in the Shadow Mountains April 27-30 near the El Mirage Off Highway Vehicle Area west of Highway 395. These two important water sources have been almost completed destroyed because of years of neglect by the Department of Fish and Wildlife, but the agency has authorized a grant from the Upland Bird Stamp fund to have volunteers do the work the state should be doing.

For more information and details, contact Frank Rorabaugh at or call 909-203-8351.

Second, after being banned from doing guzzler repairs and then getting permission again from the Needles office of the Bureau of Land Management, Cliff McDonald was able to round up 32 volunteers on short notice for an April 6-9 Water for Wildlife guzzler maintenance project. The volunteers put in 220 hours of work and spent $1,800 on materials to repair four guzzlers on BLM land in the east Mojave Desert near Goffs.

“The only reason this and other projects are successful is because of our volunteers and supporters who donate money to the program,” said McDonald.

Water for Wildlife’s next project is a big one in the Bishop region May 15-22, and volunteers are really needed for this effort that has six guzzlers on the maintenance schedule. Most of these have not had any work done on them since they were installed over five decades ago.

For more information, contact Cliff McDonald at or call 760-449-4820.

Junior anglers own Isabella Lake Fishing Derby

The 28th Annual Isabella Lake Fishing Derby held this past weekend drew over 1,825 anglers competing for the longest trout prizes, all paid out in cash. The top five longest trout were all caught by anglers 17 years old or under, topping the largely adult entrant pool.

The longest trout was a 30 3/8s-inch trout landed by Andrew Miranda, seven, from Bakersfield. Eva Brennan, 12, of Bodfish came in second with a 27 1/4-inch rainbow, while third went to Seth Hagewood, seven, of Ridgecrest. Jalen Palacios, 17, of Covina, was fourth with a 25 1/8th-inch trout, and the fifth place spot was won by Braeden Ege, seven, or Weldon.

The prize amounts were $2,000, $1,500, $1,000, and $250.

Sierra trout opener reminder

Mark the calendar (if the last Saturday of April is not tattooed onto your brain).

The general trout season will open Saturday, April 29. While most of the state is open to fishing year-around, waters in the Sierra Nevada and northern parts of the state are closed late fall through early spring and Southern California anglers flock to Inyo and Mono counties for this opening day each year. For those of you who don’t have this date etched into your brain, this is your reminder.

Some tidbits: there are five major fishing derbies opening weekend. They include the Fishmas Day Celebration at Tom’s Place, Crowley Lake’s Big Fish Contest, the Round-up at Convict Lake, the Monster Trout Contest in the June Lake Loop, and the Western Outdoor News 395 Big Fish Sierra Trout Opener. Some are free, some have entry fees. All give bragging rights to anglers catching big fish.

And there will be big fish.

The Department of Fish and Wildlife will stock Inyo and Mono counties with over 650,000 pounds of trout this fishing season, with a sizeable chunk of those planted for opening weekend, including a lot of surplus brood stock trout. Trout from private hatcheries are also planted by Mono County, a total of 24,400 pounds for the season, including 3,200 pounds of fish from six to nine pounds put in for opening weekend. There are other privately-funding trout plants throughout the region, including the Bridgeport Fish Enhancement Foundation and a similar group for the Bishop Creek drainage.

Opening day is just two weeks away.


[Jim Matthews is a syndicated Southern California-based outdoor reporter and columnist. He can be reached via e-mail at or by phone at 909-887-3444.]

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