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Posted by: TEEBONE ®

09/13/2017, 12:27:19

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Dana Milbank: The NRA’s idea of recreation

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Dana Milbank

Dana Milbank

The days are growing
colder, and soon millions of American hunters will pursue a
time-honored tradition. They will load their automatic weapons with
armor-piercing bullets, strap on silencers, head off to the picnic
grounds on nearby public lakes -- and start shooting.

If you do
not immediately recognize this pastime as part of America’s heritage,
then you are sadly out of step with the current Republican majority in
Congress. On Tuesday, a House panel takes up the “Sportsmen’s Heritage
and Recreational Enhancement Act of 2017,” which promises “to protect
and enhance opportunities for recreational hunting, fishing and

Among these recreational enhancements:

• Allowing people to bring assault guns and other weapons through jurisdictions where they are banned.

• Rolling back decades-old regulations on the use of silencers.

• Protecting the use of armor-piercing bullets.

• Easing importation of foreign-made assault rifles.

• Protecting the practice of baiting birds with grain as they migrate and then mowing them down.

House Natural Resources Committee was to have had a hearing on the bill
in June, before the baseball-practice shooting that seriously wounded
House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) led to its cancellation.

the National Rifle Association was not to be denied. In a statement
last week, the gun lobby’s director applauded the revival of the bill,
which, he said, “will protect America’s hunters and recreational
shooters and help preserve our outdoor heritage.” Among the GOP
witnesses for Tuesday’s “recreational shooter” hearing: Stephen
Halbrook, author of a book that draws parallels between the current
gun-control debate and Nazis’ disarmament of Jews.

The bill,
notably, has not been embraced by the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus,
and it is likely to draw a lot of opposition from Democrats. Clearly,
both groups are dominated by elites who do not understand the joy of
pheasant hunting with tungsten-tipped bullets. Allow me to explain.

Title XV of the sportsmen’s bill, also known as the “Hearing Protection
Act,” which makes it easier for gun owners to buy silencers for their
weapons. The uninformed might suspect that silencers are used by people
who want to fire weapons without being caught by cops or observed by
witnesses. But more and more hunters are finding that conventional
earplugs and muffs are not adequate for today’s weapons -- for example,
quail hunting with an M777 howitzer or grouse hunting with an FIM-92
Stinger missile launcher.

Sportsmen are further protected by a
“Destruction of Records” provision requiring the government to delete
silencer sale and transfer information. For obvious reasons, law-abiding
hunters would not want silencer purchases to be logged. Such a paper
trail would be an obvious tip-off to game animals, particularly those,
such as the white-tailed deer, with access to the National Firearms
Registration and Transfer Record.

Title XVI of the bill, the
“Lawful Purpose and Self-Defense Act,” denies the government authority
to reclassify bullets as “armor piercing ammunition.” It’s OK if the
ammunition pierces body armor, as long as the manufacturer claims the
ammo is meant to be used for sport and not for killing people wearing
body armor. This provision is particularly timely because a growing
percentage of Western grizzlies have been seen in recent years wearing
Kevlar vests when they attack schools in Wyoming.

I take personal
comfort in Title XI of the sportsmen’s bill, which says that if you can
legally own a gun in states with anything-goes gun laws (such as Texas),
you can transport that gun through places with restrictive laws (such
as Washington, D.C.). People could be free to take their AR-15s, their
AK-47s or perhaps even their M134 machine guns to the capital. They
wouldn’t be allowed to leave them here, but it’s likely some would do so
anyway -- a welcome development, because I have discovered a population
of moles burrowing in my lawn. A weapon that fires 100 rounds a minute
would make quick work of them.

Title V, the “Farmer and Hunter
Protection Act,” would enhance hunters’ enjoyment (and farmers’
finances) by allowing them to lure migrating birds to certain fields
where crops have not been harvested -- and shoot them. Those “Sportsmen”
who find this unsporting could instead make their way to one of the
recreational areas run by the Army Corps of Engineers, which receive 370
million visitors a year -- and would receive armed visitors under Title
III, the “Recreational Lands Self-Defense Act.”

The need for this
is transparent. Suppose you are with your family, drinking beer on a
pontoon boat on the lake, and another family’s boat bumps yours. Under
current law, you have no recourse. But under this bill, you could settle
things according to your sportsmen’s heritage, by raising your
silencer-equipped assault gun and firing armor-piercing bullets at
migratory birds.

Follow Dana Milbank on Twitter, @Milbank.


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