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Saturday, February 07, 2009

Lawmakers should know better

Steve Sorensen
(Originally published in the Warren Times Observer, February 7, 2009.)

After decades of anti-gun advocacy,
shouldn’t these people know more about
the products they want to regulate or prohibit?

With a new Congress and a new President, murmurs about new anti-gun proposals are beginning. Count on dumb things being said as new restrictions on firearms are offered.

Dumb things are always said in the gun debate. The classic is probably the use of the term “assault weapon” as though the term actually means something. It doesn’t, and that’s not only because any weapon can be used in an assault. It’s also because so-called military “assault weapons” are functionally no different from the shotgun I had in a goose blind last fall, and all but cosmetically identical to the guns hunters in many states use for deer hunting.

Why? Because most sporting weapon designs have their ancestry in military arms.

No definition exists that distinguishes “bad guns” from “good guns.” As long as the vague term “assault weapon” (or even worse, assault-style weapon) is used to designate a class of firearms, no law can be proposed that will ban one without banning the other.

People talk about “high-powered” rifles as though there is something sinister and excessive about them. But “high-powered” is another meaningless term because it’s a relative term. Every rifle used by deer hunters can be described as “high-powered.” What about shotguns shooting slugs? They deliver even more energy than many rifles.

More than once, anti-gun politicians have said that they “respect the right of hunters to use rifles to hunt ducks.” Makes me want to scream, “Hey Al, Chuck, Ted, or anyone else who might make that claim -- it’s already against federal law to hunt ducks with rifles!”

When it comes to ammunition, legislators seem to have no idea how bullets function. One legislator wants to ban guns that fire “heat-seeking bullets.” Think about it. Rapidly expanding blow-torch-hot gases push a bullet through the barrel. Add normal friction. The bullet comes out hot. What will it do, seek itself?

Some think that certain bullets are designed to rotate in order to inflict greater damage, like a buzz saw cutting through tissue. But all modern bullets rotate. Rotation stabilizes bullets on their brief journey to the target. They rotate on average only one time in 10 inches of linear travel. That’s not a “buzz saw.”

Pay attention, because soon you’ll be hearing proposals that will require every component of a loaded cartridge -- bullet, primer and brass casing, and even the box they come in -- to be encoded with a traceable serial number. Look for it to be called something like the “Ammunition Accountability Act.”

Lawmakers want to tax every round of ammo to generate the funds needed for the untold recordkeeping involved. You’ll be required to dispose of all ammunition you currently own. It will put a burden on everyone who uses firearms legally, but it won’t save a single life or solve a single crime.

When it comes to guns, lawmakers are too often ignorant. One legislator wants to prohibit guns with barrel shrouds. Pressed repeatedly as to why they should be regulated, she would not answer the question. Finally, when asked directly if she knew what a barrel shroud is, she answered, “I actually don’t know; I believe it’s the shoulder thing that goes up.” After decades of anti-gun advocacy, shouldn’t these people know more about the products they want to regulate or prohibit?

That’s the problem. Their ignorance might seem silly, and my criticisms might seem unfair. But time after time they offer proposals that they call “reasonable restrictions.” Too often, “reasonable” is a synonym for “nonsensical.”

Too often, they show how little they know beyond the fact that guns go “bang!” Give them their way, and we’ll lose every positive benefit that guns bring to American society, benefits that go way beyond hunting.
Cure your cabin fever by attending a sport show. Here is a calendar of some of the shows in our region:
February 7-15, Eastern Sports & Outdoor Show at the State Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg, PA.
February 18-22, Allegheny Sport, Travel & Outdoor Show at the David Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh, PA.
February 21-22, Kinzua Outdoor & Travel Show at the Bradford Mall in Bradford, PA.
February 28, Chautauqua Turkey & Deer Hunting Expo at Chautauqua Suites in Mayville, NY.
March 6-8, Erie Sport & Travel Expo at the Bayfront Convention Center in Erie, PA.
March 12-15, Western New York Sport & Travel Expo at the Fairgrounds in Hamburg, NY.
March 20-22, Ohio Deer & Turkey Expo in the Bricker Building at the State Fairgrounds in Columbus, Ohio.


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