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Gun Ban Fight Moves To The States

Thursday, December 9, 2004

We're right in the middle of hunting seasons in most parts of the country. Millions of hunters are in the fields and woods with pump-action and semi-automatic rifles and shotguns. The guns' names--Ruger and Remington, Browning and Beretta, Mossberg and Marlin, Winchester and Weatherby, to name a few--are familiar to us all.

However, if anti-gun activists and politicians have their way, all of those guns would be banned as "assault weapons" next year, along with the rifles that dominate High Power rifle competitions and home-defense shotguns.

Legislation proposing to ban those guns was introduced in 11 states during 2003-2004 and will be introduced in even more states in 2005. Some bills are being drafted from a template devised by the Legal Community Against Violence, a cadre of anti-gun California lawyers, while others track with bills introduced in Congress this year.

As a hunting partner of mine dryly commented not long ago, "it's not about only 'scary-looking' guns anymore." Of course, it never was about only a narrowly defined group of semi-automatics that look like fully automatic military rifles, or about rifle and pistol magazines that hold more than 10 rounds. The truth is, gun prohibitionists in this country have a zero tolerance for gun ownership. For many years they've looked longingly overseas, admiring the bans imposed in foreign countries.

Anti-gun politicians think your hunting guns are "assault weapons" and should be banned. Legislation in various states targets many popular hunting semi-automatic shotguns and rifles and even pump-action shotguns as well.

American sportsmen too often take for granted the hunting and sporting guns that many nations have prohibited their people from owning. Anti-gun groups within our borders are always waiting for a ripe opportunity to push for the same kinds of prohibitions here. So, when Germany prohibited pump-actions a few years ago, the founder of the so-called Million Mom March demanded that Congress do the same, along with subjecting America's gun owners to psychological exams.

The anti-gunners' true goal becomes painfully clear when the list of guns they call "assault weapons" grows longer as each bill is introduced. First, it was military-looking semi-automatics. Then they added all semi-automatic shotguns and detachable-magazine semi-automatic rifles. Now they are including pump-action shotguns, and, in some cases, 28-ga. and larger shotguns regardless of action type.

We even see a Michigan bill that would permit the state police to conduct annual home inspections to determine if registered "assault weapons" are stored in the manner they deem to be proper. Following the British "mandatory storage" example, who's to say their requirements won't be ratcheted up to force gun owners to buy expensive safes to store inexpensive firearms?

As they crusade to strangle your right to keep and bear arms, the anti-gunners are determined not to let the truth get in their way, knowing they can count on their media-elite friends to conceal their deception. If facts alone drove the debate, two separate federal government studies released this year would have put an end to the "assault weapon issue" at the federal level and led to a repeal of bans in place in seven states and the District of Columbia.

The first, conducted for the National Institute of Justice, concluded that the Clinton ban had no bearing on violent crime, because the guns that it banned were used in only about 2 percent of violent crime and are functionally no different than many other guns. The second, produced by the Congressional Research Service, showed why the Brady Campaign's claim that the ban reduced crime is a fraud and how the Violence Policy Center (VPC) flat-out lied about how often the banned guns were used against police officers.

In the weeks before the Clinton ban expired, 90 or more newspapers editorialized in favor of the ban trumpeting Brady/VPC lies. A tough fight was made tougher for us by all the misinformation circulated at the time, largely because of the bias or carelessness of many in the media.

We have not seen the end of these distortions. It remains important for every NRA member to stay involved in the fight, calling or sending letters to elected representatives and news organizations, letting them know where you stand and what the facts are. Facts worth remembering include: In the United States, violent crime--three-quarters of which is not gun-related--has declined every year for 12 straight years, 35 percent overall, and is at a 27-year low. Murder rates are the lowest they have been since the mid-1960s. At the same time, the number of privately owned firearms--including "assault weapons"--rises by 5 million a year. There are more Right-to-Carry states (38) than ever. Many states have passed laws eliminating local gun-control ordinances, and many states' waiting periods and purchase permit requirements have been eliminated in favor of the National Instant Check.

This is no time for state legislatures to reverse course and adopt failed gun control schemes in the name of fighting crime. Banning guns because some criminals use them is futile. Even worse, gun bans tell us that our rights and liberties depend not on our own behavior but on the conduct of outlaws. Gun bans tell honest citizens that they have only such rights and liberties as criminals--or terrorists--will allow.

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Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.