by Mark Chesnut - Monday, February 22, 2021
Less than three weeks after taking office, the Biden administration on Feb. 14 took its first swipe at gun owners, encouraging Congress to get to work on a number of gun-control measures that would do nothing to battle the country’s violent crime problem.
In a prepared statement, President Joe Biden said: “Today, I am calling on Congress to enact common-sense gun-law reforms, including requiring background checks on all gun sales, banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and eliminating immunity for gun manufacturers who knowingly put weapons of war on our streets.”
Some hunters are likely to say, "So what?" However, a closer look at the proposals reveals that hunters easily could be swept along in any momentum these proposals are likely to generate.
For argument’s sake, let’s take a quick look at the proposals mentioned by the Biden administration and how they could affect hunters.
The administration’s proposal concerning “eliminating immunity for gun manufacturers who knowingly put weapons of war on our streets” is actually another way to say they want to make it legal to sue gunmakers for criminal use of their safe, legally manufactured products. Such abuse was outlawed by the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), but the Biden administration wants to see that law overturned.
Of course, the result of such a move could be as devastating for hunters as for those who own their guns for competition, self-defense and a variety of other lawful purposes. Allowing gunmakers to be sued out of business could cut the supply of guns meant for hunting just as quickly as other types of firearms. Additionally, a lowered supply could result in reduced gun sales, which would result in the collection of less of the federal excise tax earmarked for wildlife conservation.
Banning so-called “assault weapons” and “high-capacity” magazines also could negatively affect hunters. With today’s popularity of AR-style firearms for hunting everything from varmints to all manners of big game, such a gun ban would directly impact hunters. And even if you typically use a five- or seven-round magazine when hunting, that wouldn’t keep the government from banning your gun. Those who are uninformed only care if a firearm has the ability to hold a magazine that holds lots of rounds. Make no mistake, your hunting AR would be on the list.
Incidentally, the United States had an “assault weapons” ban, which included a ban on magazines that hold more than 10 rounds, back in the 1990s. After 10 years, Congress allowed the ban to sunset, and an analysis of the law by the government later revealed that it didn’t have any measurable effect on violent crime.
That leaves us with what is commonly referred to as “universal” background checks. A better term for that is outlawing private gun sales. Unfortunately, there’s no way such a law would be feasible without keeping a record of every gun sold in order to make sure the law wasn’t violated by a transfer without a background check. Also, such background checks wouldn’t really be “universal.” While you might be required to undergo a background check to buy or even borrow a deer rifle from a hunting buddy, criminals likely would continue with business as usual, since they’re not really known for following the law—hence the name “criminal.”
Interestingly, one measure currently under consideration in congress, H.R. 127, has such strong wording in its section about background checks, registration and licensing that, if passed, a hunter couldn’t loan a shotgun to his brother or nephew for a weekend bird hunt without first gaining permission from the U.S. attorney general.
In the end, an attack on any gun owners by a sitting administration is really an attack on all gun owners. Consequently, hunters should keep just as close an eye on proposed anti-gun legislation as do those who prefer to use their firearms for other safe, legal purposes.
About the Author
Freelance writer and editor Mark Chesnut is the owner/editorial director at Red Setter Communications LLC in Jenks, Okla. An avid hunter, shooter and field trialer, he has been covering Second Amendment issues and politics on a near-daily basis for the past 20 years.
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