Gun owners' rights to be tested

Strange things happen during a modern presidential election. Take the phone-call campaigning strategy, for instance. Seemingly out of nowhere your phone begins ringing one day, and even people you don't know want to be your friend.

You pick up the phone, and a pleasant voice on the other end says, "Hi, this is so-and-so, and I would like to ask you a few questions about the election."

When the calls first start, your voice remains pleasant. But as the calls increase, they also become more annoying, and your response becomes a little less friendly. One might even describe it as edgy.

One day last week, I found myself saying to one of my new friends, "Let me save us both some time. I already voted for president, and I voted for this person." To which the person on the other end of the phone responded, "I'm just doing my job!" Then she hung up on me. Imagine that.

The calls steadily increase until one day the polls close and the election is over. Just as suddenly as your phone stops ringing, your new friends forget who you are.

For hunters and recreational shooters, the question moving forward, now that the presidential election is over, is what a second term with President Barack Obama in the White House will mean for your right to own firearms.

Keep in mind the president won't have to worry about being re-elected, so he will feel free to be a little "more flexible" in his policies, the legislation he pushes and the creative use of executive orders to work his way around the legislative process. And no one in the Obama camp is going to call and ask your opinion.

Though his team kept a lid on the gun control issue throughout the campaign, Obama stated on the debate stage, and before the world, that he doesn't believe you have that right to own a firearm if it resembles something that could be used in a military setting.

Keep in mind that, just as they did following World War I and World War II, many of the sporting firearms available to the private citizen today have taken on the look and feel of the firearms used by the military.

In an effort to demonize these sporting arms, the anti-gun movement labeled them as "assault weapons." Under their definition, any semiautomatic firearm with a detachable magazine and certain aesthetic features such as a pistol grip, folding or telescoping stock or flash suppressor would qualify as an assault weapon. If this definition holds and Congress reinstitutes the so-called "assault weapon" ban, your Ruger 10/22 that has been accessorized would be an illegal firearm.

One of the problems gun owners face is the uneducated public that doesn't understand what the term semiautomatic means and easily is swayed through fear. When one doesn't understand something, it is easy to believe the propaganda like a reporter once spewed when she claimed a murder was committed with a semiautomatic assault revolver.

Never heard of a semiautomatic assault revolver? Me either, but the term strikes a menacing picture, doesn't it?

It's hard to know what the next four years hold on the firearms ownership front, but it would behoove gun enthusiasts to pay close attention to the goings on in Washington.

Moreover, this might be the right time to invite your nonshooting friends, neighbors or co-workers for a day at the rifle range or on the trap field. One can make a quality decision only from an informed position.

Freelance writer Doug Nielsen is a conservation educator for the Nevada Department of Wildlife. His "In the Outdoors" column, published Thursday in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, is not affiliated with or endorsed by the NDOW. Any opinions he states in his column are his own. He can be reached at