Cumberland Times-News

Michael A Sawyers - Outdoors

February 2, 2013

That rifle looks bad

Let’s try to figure out what we are all talking about when we speak of Senate Bill 281 and House Bill 294, which have been filed at the Maryland General Assembly. Those are the two pieces of legislation that would make certain firearms and clips (magazines) illegal.

You can read the bills online at megaleg@maryland.gov.

These bills are crossfiled, which means they say the same thing but are entered separately. Crossfiling is like fishing with two poles when you only need one catfish for dinner that night.

You toss one piece of cut bait to your left and one to your right and catch the first fish that bites and then you go home. Using two rods ups your chances of catching that fish.

I’ve owned and used firearms all my life and I will admit that when people start talking about the kinds of firearms they want to ban I have to stop to think what they mean.

We hear these terms: assault rifles, military style rifles, modern sporting rifles and black rifles.

I am getting the impression that some folks want to ban firearms because of the way they look, not because of what they can do.

For example, the rifles on the chopping block shoot one round per trigger pull, just the same as Delegate Wendell Beitzel’s Remington Model 742 Woodsmaster. The Remington, though, is styled in the sleek, linear fashion of hunting rifles that we have seen through the decades.

Beitzel said he likes his deer rifle of 30 years because it allows him to get off a fast second shot if he needs it to hit galloping backstraps.

Banning a rifle because it has a thumbhole or an extended pistol grip is like banning a cup holder from an automobile.

Thumbholes and pistol grips have no role in the velocity or direction of a projectile that comes out the barrel and a cupholder has nothing to do with how fast or in which direction a vehicle travels.

Banning black rifles is like forbidding the manufacture, sale or purchase of blue Ford pickup trucks.

Although I personally don’t believe it will make any difference in anybody’s safety, the one thing that I see in these bills that makes anything close to sense is the reduction in the number of rounds that can legally be held in a clip or magazine.

Maryland already limits clips to a capacity of 20 rounds. That would be changed to 10 rounds by these bills.

So... if we limit the number of rounds in a clip, why do we have to make illegal certain rifles that fire the bullets these clips hold; rifles that can accept a clip and that also have a thumbhole or an extended pistol grip or a folding/telescoping stock? I don’t get it.

Robin and Jim Wiegand own and operate the Bassin’ Box, a popular hunt-fish store in LaVale.

“All they want to ban are cosmetics because they think the rifles look bad,” Robin said Wednesday morning. “It’s like saying everybody with blond hair looks like a criminal.”

A flash suppressor on a semi-automatic rifle that accepts a clip would also make that firearm illegal.

“That’s a real gray area,” Jim said. “Browning makes rifles that have a muzzle-break and nobody has been able to define the difference between a muzzle-break and a flash suppressor. I mean I can sell somebody a legal firearm and they can go buy a different stock to put on it, say one with a thumbhole.”

Bassin’ Box doesn’t sell the rifles being considered for prohibition, sticking to the more traditionally styled long guns.

I have heard any number of gun control advocates say in print or on video (Maryland Sen. Brian E. Frosh of Montgomery County being one of them) that semi-automatic rifles of the military style are manufactured for one purpose only, that being the killing of as many people as possible in a short time.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

You can drive a car at the speed limit to church on a Sunday morning or you can drive it at 100 miles per hour into a crowd of pedestrians.

SB 281 is slated for a Judicial Proceedings Committee hearing on Wednesday at 1 p.m.

Contact Outdoor Editor Mike Sawyers at msawyers@times-news.com.

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Michael A Sawyers - Outdoors
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