From a political standpoint, advocating more federal gun control is about as popular with voters these days as a skunk in a party punchbowl and any member of congress seeking re-election runs from the issue.
That’s because new public opinion surveys have shown a remarkable change in voter attitudes concerning firearms.
For the first time since the 1970s, a significant majority opposes additional federal gun laws.
That’s why those who want more restrictions will attempt to go around congress, according to information I read last weekend from a number of political news sources and gun-rights watchdog groups.
Here are some of the plans being floated around the nation’s capitol.
Anyone wishing to buy a firearm at a retail establishment must fill out a federal form and wait for approval of a background check.
There’s a question on the form concerning whether or not the person buying the gun is currently or has been treated for certain mental illnesses.
You may recall the news story earlier this year about a man who was initially denied a firearm purchase because he was honest about his past and mentioned he’d sought counselling several years ago for a short period following a difficult divorce.
Everyone goes through rough times in life and counsellors, therapists, clergy and psychiatrists are there to help us through them.
In the majority of cases, these sessions are beneficial and the person seeking help returns to a healthy and productive life.
Anti-gun activists would like to see definitions of mental illness broadened to “ensure the safety of the purchaser and the public” by making certain no one who is or ever has been “mentally ill” buys a gun.
Should a college student seeking help with an eating disorder be forever banned from owning a firearm?
Should a woman getting help for depression after having a child be forbidden from hunting or shooting with that child years later?
What exactly constitutes gun-forbidding mental illness in a broader context?
Another approach being floated is broadening the definition of domestic violence.
Right now, you can’t buy a gun if you’re under a restraining order or have been found guilty of violent domestic abuse and rightfully so.
But there is a move afoot to expand domestic abuse to include spanking a child, yelling at a family member or otherwise known to have engaged in “verbal domestic abuse.”
Some want to throw in “hate speech” as a justification for denying someone the right to own a gun and what constitutes as hate speech is a fluid flow of political correctness so arbitrary that a tasteless joke could fall into the category if one isn’t careful.
We need to be very careful before allowing second amendment rights to be forfeited due to what someone considers inappropriate speech, however tasteless, so long as no violent intent is expressed.
And I could make a case for it being much safer to allow people to verbally vent anger and frustration than force them to suppress those feelings until a situation does explode into violence.
Oregon is among a growing list of states passing or considering legislation that mandates a background check before a firearm can be transferred between private parties.
In most states, you can still sell a gun to a friend or family member or give one as a gift without any paperwork so long as, to the best of your knowledge, the recipient is not prevented from legally owning a firearm.
Now efforts are underway to require local law enforcement to review and approve such transfers.
Still more ideas being pushed include limiting the amount of ammunition a person can make within a certain timeframe and requiring background checks for ammo purchases.
There’s a move underway to require that firearms be “securely stored” in the home so as to prevent theft or accidental access by someone who shouldn’t have a gun. I’m sure a home invader will be happy to wait patiently while you open your gun safe before robbing or assaulting you.
These are just a few of the more recent ideas for putting more restrictions on guns and ammo. Expect to learn of more in months ahead.
Dan Carlson is a veteran outdoors enthusiast, meteorologist and author with nearly four decades of experience in hunting, fishing and shooting sports.
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