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New firearm bill could hamstring hunters

With the changing of the political guard, we all knew it was coming. Anyone who says different must be either in a state of denial or supportive of the onslaught. I’m talking about the barrage of gun control legislation that has been introduced for consideration by Congress in the past two months.

The one firearm bill that could have significant impact on hunters is H.R. 45, also known as Blair Holt’s Firearm Licensing and Record of Sale Act of 2009. Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., introduced the bill “to provide for the implementation of a system of licensing for purchasers of certain firearms and for a record of sale system for those firearms, and for other purposes.”

You have to love phrases like “for other purposes” that say nothing yet open wide the door for creative interpretation on the part of clever politicians.

If passed, the Holt bill would make it illegal for any person, including licensed hunters who have no criminal record, to possess what is defined as a “qualifying firearm” unless that person has been issued a federally approved firearm license under authority of the Blair Holt Act. That means you would have to pick up this license to possess what many of you legally own. If that license were to be invalidated or revoked, you would be out of luck.

Under the terms of this bill, a qualifying firearm would include any handgun and any semiautomatic firearm that can accept a detachable feeding device. Antiques are excluded. This means that if you own a Ruger 10/22, one of the most common starter rifles in America, you would need to have a firearm license simply because it has a semiautomatic action and uses a detachable magazine.

Owners of a Remington Model 7400, regardless of caliber, would be in the same predicament. There are no provisions to grandfather in the semiautomatic deer rifle that Gramps gave you.

And when it comes to passing that semiautomatic rifle or handgun on to your son or daughter, be prepared for a paperwork nightmare because the transfer will have to be completed through a licensed dealer who will have to verify that the giver and the intended recipient hold a valid firearm license. Said transfer could not take place until the intended recipient was at least 18 years old. No more 10/22s under the Christmas tree.

The Holt bill would establish a national firearms registration system by recording every sale or transfer of ownership involving a qualifying firearm. For this to work, the legislation calls for eliminating language in the United States Code that prohibits the creation of such a system.

On top of all this, if someone steals your qualifying firearm and you don’t report the theft within 72 hours, guess who will face criminal charges? The same would be true if you move and don’t report your change of address within 60 days.

To obtain the firearm license, applicants would have to pass a written exam designed to test not only one’s knowledge of firearms safety, safe storage options and risks associated with the use of firearms but also one’s knowledge of federal, state and local firearms laws. Moreover, the exam also will test your knowledge on “any other subjects, as the attorney general determines to be appropriate.” There is nothing like being specific.

And let’s not forget the fee with the proposed licensing requirement. The fees “shall be not less than the amount determined by the attorney general to be necessary to … cover the costs of carrying out this title during that fiscal year, except that such amount shall not exceed $25.”

Do you think it will be any less than $25?

Learn more about H.R. 45 and other firearm legislation at www.govtrack.us or www.opencongress.org.

WOODS AND WATERS BANQUET — Hunters and anglers looking to hang out and swap stories might want to attend the annual Woods and Waters Banquet on Saturday at South Point. Doors will open at 5 p.m. The club’s motto is “All we want to do is hunt and fish and talk about it.” Contact Gordon Warren at 702-498-6426 for information.

Freelance writer Doug Nielsen is a conservation educator for the Nevada Department of Wildlife. His column is not affiliated with or endorsed by the department. Any opinions he states in his column are his own. He can be reached at doug@takinitoutside.com.

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