In case you haven't noticed, I have been staying away from the gun control debate that has taken place since the sad and tragic event in Newtown, Conn. Unfortunately, the gun-control and anti-hunting advocates jumped on this before many of us had time to get over our grief. I am probably one of the few columnists that has not commented on it.
Our President proposed actions to curb this kind of violence such as eliminating the sale of assault weapons, requiring more stringent background checks, curbing the sizes of the magazine clips, etc. If the proposals are enacted into law, I hope they eliminate such horrendous crimes. But I seriously doubt that they will and only the law abiding gun owners will be affected.
Nevertheless, being strictly a hunter and not owning any of these so-called assault weapons, I felt that any restrictions placed on them would not affect me. After all, we were constantly told that we have nothing to fear, and hunters, skeet shooters, and target shooters will not be affected.
But things are beginning to unfold that have me quite concerned. Unfortunately, there are well-known national and state politicians who want to ban all guns, stating that the Second Amendment was established during a period when there were only single-shot muskets and was not intended for today's guns. I won't get into that argument other than to say this: At that time, the muskets that the colonists possessed were state-of-the-art and were lethal enough to take on and defeat the most powerful army on earth. (Massachusetts Minutemen were the first to take them on.)
Some politicians are advocating the ban on all semi automatic guns. That means our 3-shot, semi-automatic, duck hunting shotguns, 5-shot deer/rabbit hunting guns, and many .22-caliber guns will become illegal. Some kind of assault weapons, eh? Others want to make the cost of ammo prohibitive. I am also very concerned what the anti-gunners are scheming up now in Boston.
In a January 14 Eagle commentary by Scot Lehigh ("Put a price on gun safety"), he advocated for the requirement of current and future hunters and other gun owners to carry liability insurance. This comes as no surprise in a state which has a very powerful insurance lobby.
Far fetched? Well, Massachusetts State Representative David Linsky (D-Natick) is proposing such action in a bill he is sponsoring, and if passed, sportsmen would not be able to purchase a gun or ammo without this insurance. A hunter who wants a pump-action shotgun or bolt-action rifle would pay a "nominal" fee. A semi-automatic rifle would require more. I can only imagine what folks who want to purchase a pistol for self defense would pay.
How well I remember when there really was a nominal fee to purchase a lifetime FID card. Look at this fee now -- $100 and it must be renewed every 6 years!
As stated in Lehigh's commentary, insurers would "likely want proof that we have trigger locks, gun safes, and lockbox for ammo" in our homes. What is he saying? People will come into our homes and look for them? Didn't we fight a revolutionary war against people who did similar things? I spent 4 years of my life defending our country against others with regimes that practice such things.
I believe this is a veiled attempt to discourage citizens from owning a gun for personal protection and enjoying the hunting and shooting sports. I know several young hunters who are the only ones in their families who hunt. They have to pay enough for the FID card, gun, ammo, safe, lockbox, etc., and now liability insurance? Does anyone seriously believe that an evil or sick person is going to purchase liability insurance? If you do, I know of some land in Ripton that I'll sell you real cheap.
I do not always agree with the NRA on some positions it takes. But, I'll be renewing my membership along with my membership in GOAL, because there is no one else that will defend my rights to own a gun for personal protection and to enjoy one of my favorite sports.
Before this liability proposal progresses too far in our legislature, concerned gun owners should contact their state senator, representatives, House Speaker DeLeo and Governor Patrick and express their feelings regarding this subject.
The following Basic Hunter Education courses are being held in our area: Cheshire Rod & Gun Club: March 4, 8, 11, 15, 18 and 22 from 6-9 p.m.; Pittsfield High School: March 5, 7, 12, 14, 19 and 21 from 6-9 p.m. This course is mandatory for first-time hunters or hunting license buyers in Massachusetts and all courses are free of charge. For more information or to enroll, call (978) 772-0693. Hurry! These classes fill up quickly.
Say, do you miss those great Ducks Unlimited (DU) fundraising dinners that the Beartown Chapter used to put on a few years ago? The purpose of them was to raise money for the ducks and their habitat (wetlands). They drew large crowds and had unquestionably the best prizes of all the organizations. They ended because they required a lot of work and people were becoming burned out or were physically unable to solicit donations, send out mailings and all of the things involved in such a project. No new volunteers came forward to help out or replace them.
Well, the Beartown DU would like to bring back this popular fundraiser this spring and is looking for enthusiastic new volunteers. If you think you can help and would like more information, contact Phil Hiser at (413) 207-1487 or Regional Director Ray Ilg at (603) 748-3111.
To reach Gene Chague:
or (413) 637-1818.