When no big anti-gun bills are making the national headlines, gun owners sometimes forget that attacks on our Second Amendment rights never really stop — they just change shape or reappear in new places.
With almost nothing moving in Congress, anti-gun and anti-hunting extremists have increasingly turned to the state legislatures, especially in states where more elected officials support their agendas.
Restrictions on right-to-carry are popular with our opponents, who are desperately trying to counter the huge popularity of laws that have enabled millions of Americans to protect themselves away from home.
In Oregon, for example, two different bills were introduced to restrict right-to-carry, with one bill banning all legal carry on any school grounds, including colleges and universities. It would also ban the storage of a firearm in a permit holder's car. The other bill would add all public buildings to the ban. These bills directly threaten the fundamental right to self-defense by creating a patchwork of places where permit holders may carry, and leaving them with no place to legally store their firearms temporarily.
Anti-gun activists haven't abandoned attacking their other favorite targets, such as gun shows, private transfers between law-abiding people, and, of course, semi-autos.
In Virginia, one bill would make it a crime for anyone who isn't a licensed dealer to transfer a firearm — and that would include transfers of long guns and gifts between family members. The bill would also make it illegal to receive a firearm from anyone other than a dealer. The same anti-gun senator has proposed legislation to ban carrying firearms in restaurants that serve alcohol. That ban was just lifted in 2010, so the bill to reimpose it should make clear that our opponents aren't deterred any more by recent defeat than they are by lack of evidence.
In Illinois, the anti-gun forces are moving ahead full speed, with one bill to ban semi-auto rifles and another that would ban almost all semi-auto firearms, including handguns. Both of these bills would also ban .50 caliber rifles. If passed, these would be the broadest semi-auto bans ever.
And hunters shouldn't think they are being ignored, either: The effort to ban traditional lead ammunition goes on. As I've written here before before, radical environmental and animal "rights" groups are trying to ban the use of traditional ammo. Having failed to achieve a national ban through regulation by the Environmental Protection Agency, they are now focusing on individual states and individual hunts.
In the past few months, they have focused on Iowa's newly created dove hunt. Last year, the Iowa legislature approved a dove season for the first time in a century. The anti-hunting forces that failed to stop dove hunting immediately tried to ban the use of traditional ammo for hunting doves, knowing that fewer hunters could afford to go afield with expensive non-lead shot. Led by groups like the Sierra Club and the Humane Society of the United States, the anti-hunting forces convinced the Iowa Natural Resource Commission to adopt a rule banning the use of traditional ammo.
Fortunately, subcommittees in both the Iowa House and Senate looked at science and rejected the rule. This was a victory for hunters and conservation that goes far beyond Iowa. Anti-hunting politicians and activists in a number of other states were looking closely at the debate in Iowa, with plans to use the same arguments to go after traditional ammo.
The threats I've described here are only a fraction of what we've seen in the first months of 2012. As the year progresses, and particularly as this year's critically important elections play out, all gun owners should arm themselves with the information they need. For more information on gun related legislation, visit www.nraila.org regularly — and be sure to sign up for our free email alerts to get the latest breaking news.
And of course, the best way to block anti-gun initiatives is to vote this November. Electing those who support the Second Amendment is the best way to ensure that all of these anti-gun bills end up as nothing more than forgotten footnotes in the history of our rights.