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Rod, Gun & Game: Gun control discussions underscore the new year

SPRINGVILLE — Many sportsmen are shuddering to consider potential changes that ahead for firearms owners. Everywhere that hunters, sportsmen and people from all walks of life come together, discussions on what can be done to make America safe from gun violence are among topics the addressed.

Something does need to be done, but what can be changed to enhance safety and be functionally effective, without destroying the signature of the Second Amendment?

We don’t have to wait long, to see the first approach, from Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat representing California and the original author of the federal assault weapon and large ammunition magazine ban of 1994 – 2004. Feinstein recently announced that, on the first day of the new Congress session, Jan. 3, she would introduce a bill to which her 1994 ban will pale by comparison.

On Dec. 17, Feinstein said, “I have been working with my staff for over a year, on this legislation. It will be carefully focused.”

According to a Dec. 27 post on Feinstein’s website and a draft of the bill obtained by National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action, the new ban would, among other things, adopt new definitions of “assault weapon” that would affect a much larger variety of firearms and require current owners of such firearms to register them with the federal government, under the National Firearms Act. Additionally, the bill proposes the forfeiture of the firearms, upon the death of their current owners, with the firearms’ being turned over to the government.

The idea of more gun control, when 300 million firearms are already among citizens of the United States, seems a bit preposterous, but perhaps just as crazy as declaring any area of the country – like schools and other areas – “gun-free zones.” Such signs tell criminally-minded people there is no one at these locations that can stop them. They know everyone else is abiding by the law. The sign and the policy remove the rights of private citizens’ to use firearms to protect themselves, their families and others.

Not everyone is capable of carrying a firearm safely, so not everyone should do so.

Adding a police presence, or a guardian of some type, for unarmed citizens and students – especially in our schools – is among considerations for a modern-day revision in our culture. The open door policy is already gone; most schools have locked entries, now.

There is certainly heightened concern, after the recent, multiple shooting events in “gun-free zones,” that citizens can rely on the local police agencies to protect them from others that mean them harm. Look at the increasing number of homeschooled kids; those parents have done something about this issue. In Newtown, records show that it took police 20 minutes to respond. There, the policy of “gun-free zone” rules was ineffective.

Anti-gun groups would probably like to see America free of firearms in private citizens’ hands, but, like similar policies in Australia and England, that fails to recognize that criminals will never give up their guns. So, the ultimate result is removing the protection from law-abiding, tax-paying Americans.

While the nation mourns the lives lost in Newtown, the gun control machine and Feinstein teams are ramping up much-expanded gun control laws. Changes will be made. The NRA calls for improved security at our nation’s schools, a renewed emphasis on the strengthening the nation’s mental health system and examining violence, in our culture.

We didn’t have gun-free zone signs at our schools, or anywhere else, in the 50s, 60s and 70s. So, let’s ask ourselves, “What has really changed, since then?”

A recent Gallop poll reported that 87 percent of responders said increasing police presence in schools would be very effective or somewhat effective, while 84 percent said increasing government spending on mental health screening and treatment would be very effective or somewhat effective and 78 percent said decreasing the depiction of gun violence on TV, movies and in video games would be very effective or somewhat effective.

Furthermore, 42 percent said banning the sale of assault and semi-automatic guns would be very effective, while 36 percent said this would not be effective at all and 64 percent said the idea of having at least one school official at every school carry a gun, for the protection of the school, would be either very effective or somewhat effective.

A 57 percent thought news media’s refusing to print or read the names of the person responsible for the shooting would be very effective or somewhat effective, though 40 percent said this would not be effective at all.

According to a Gallop poll, 34 percent of all Americans who responded reported that they own guns. While 49 percent of all American households reported they have a gun, the gun is owned by the man in 52 percent and the gun is owned by the woman in 43 percent of these households.

Is the accuracy of the reported gun ownership information true? Ever since the original Feinstein 1994 assault weapon bill, Americans may not be willing to disclose that they have firearms at their homes or within their control.

We are all struggling to do something to help, in light of Newtown and other preceding events. Is this issue about gun control? No. It’s about the mentally ill. A picture is worth a thousand words. Consider that Hollywood, in movies and video games, feed kids’ minds with alternative ideas about how to vent their frustrations and gain power. We need common sense; we need parents who care. We need change, but it’s not about firearms.

This is really about the overworked, overtired, disinterested parents who are so busy, they don’t notice the damaging actions their children are learning, from video game baby-sitters. America’s mental health care system needs to be revamped. Ask Feinstein to focus her energy on mental a healthcare improvement policy. If we put bulletproof windows and doors in every school, as well as armed guards, we would have to pray that some maniac wouldn’t just drive a car through the front of the building and emerge, shooting.

If you take away the equal rights of the citizen and the government, to own the same firearms, you rip out the roots that this country was founded on. Most Americans know that answer, but here we are, with many editors of magazines, news anchors, newspapers and other communication channels, saying that we need more gun control.

We have 28,000 gun laws, now. Thinking gun control is the issue is a knee-jerk reaction, like saying America should stop selling gas, to keep all drunk drivers off the road. We all want to help make this better, but it’s a much deeper and more basic issue.

Hunting – fishing flea market
The Southtowns Walleye Association is all about promoting outdoor and fishing fun. Here is one way to move your thoughts toward warm weather fun.

The SWA flea market will be held at the SWA Clubhouse, located at 5895 Southwestern Blvd. in Hamburg.

Visitors will find fishing rods, lures, reels, nets, hunting equipment, New York state fishing maps and much more, including free advice from charter captains that are also on hand to sell their used equipment.

Chairman and Charter Captain Samuel Schrecengost said, “It will be a good day to spend time with other anglers and sportsmen. Bring your kids down, catch up on the latest fishing tricks, from this past year.

“Come on down and rub elbows. This is a fundraiser to help SWA with youth programs and regular ownership debts, like we all have. Free prizes will be given away, every hour, and it’s a good time to see the new SWA clubhouse.”

There is a table donation required for each table.

No firearms or ammo are allowed. There will be food and beverages on hand, for all visitors.

For more information, call Schrecengost at 649-8202 or 465-6100.

Outdoor calendar

Jan. 6: Rochester/Southern Tier Quality Deer management Association, free seminar, Honeoye High School, 83 East St., 7 p.m. For more information, call Mike Edwards at 585-813-2021.

Jan. 19: HuntingWNY.com annual awards dinner and banquet, Delevan Fireman Training Center, 1006 North Main St., Delevan. Live music and refreshments. There is a limited number of tickets. To purchase tickets, visit www.huntingwny.com, call 353-0839 or email russ@huntingwny.com.

Mar. 3: Erie County Federation of Sportsmen annual banquet and awards dinner, Father Justin Knights of Columbus Hall, Cheektowaga. Call 655-0975 to purchase tickets or for more information.
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