Use of silencers – hunting should become “quieter” – News


Silencers are prohibited when hunting. But there is a leeway that the canton of Solothurn now wants to exploit.

The situation: Silencers are forbidden when hunting in Switzerland. This is regulated by the Federal Hunting Ordinance of 1988. The cantons can grant exceptions, but they are subject to strict limits. In addition, you need a special permit from the police to buy silencers, because silencers are considered weapon accessories.


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The hunting ordinance stipulates that the cantons can permit the use of prohibited aids (including silencers). Exceptions apply:

  • The preservation of certain animal species or habitats
  • Preventing wildlife damage
  • The control of animal diseases
  • Finding and, if necessary, killing injured animals

There is no explicit reason for using silencers to protect the health of hunters or their dogs.

The requirement: Hunters have long been campaigning for this regulation to be relaxed. This would also have been the case in the new hunting law, which was rejected by the people in 2020. Now the ban continues to apply. Nevertheless, there is always a discussion about the use of silencers. The Solothurn cantonal parliament discussed the issue on Wednesday.

The advantages: David Gerke (Greens) campaigned in Parliament for more silencers to be used. The main reason: noise protection for hunters and their dogs. In addition, a silencer also reduces the recoil of a weapon, which promotes accuracy and thus animal welfare.


A hunter during the Bündner high hunt. There is no silencer on the rifle. This would also be forbidden.

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Different handling: Despite the ban at federal level, there are cantons that issue more permits for silencers than others. The cantons of Aargau and Zurich are considered to be relatively relaxed because they interpret the exception rules provided for in federal law more broadly than others. Discussions are going on behind the scenes with the Federal Office for the Environment as to the extent to which these permits are in line with the law.

The disadvantages: The federal ban comes from the initial fear of poaching. In addition, silencers could be dangerous for other people in the forest because the shots can no longer be heard. However, the shots from hunting rifles can still be heard despite the silencer, so it’s not like in the film, where shots can only be heard as a soft “pop”.

This is how a silencer works

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A bang is heard when a shot is fired. This occurs because gases are generated when the shot is fired, which spread explosively.

To put it simply, a silencer ensures that the gases are “captured”. This reduces the rate of expansion, the gases escape more slowly and the bang is quieter.

However, a silencer does not absorb every bang. Breaking the sound barrier cannot be completely prevented by a silencer.

Exploit legal leeway: In the current discussion in Solothurn’s cantonal parliament, government councilor Brigit Wyss pointed out the canton’s limited options. Nevertheless, the parliamentarians called on the government not to hide too much behind federal laws and, where possible, to issue permits for silencers.

In the debate, it also became clear that a relaxation at federal level is to be expected soon anyway. After all, the relaxation of the silencer ban in the rejected hunting law was undisputed. However, there is no specific date for this yet.



A self-made rifle with a silencer belonging to a poacher in the St. Gallen Criminal Museum. Poaching was the original reason for the ban on hunting silencers.

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The situation abroad: Silencers are used for hunting in various European countries. Several German and Austrian states, as well as France, allow the use of silencers when hunting. They are even mandatory in the UK.

Regional journal Aargau Solothurn, May 11, 2022, 5:30 p.m.;

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