N.D. gun bills tossed

Two bills that would have severely impacted shooting sports and all firearms owners in North Dakota were quickly scrapped by the state Legislature. Thank goodness.

Rep. Steven L. Zaiser, District 21 Democrat from Fargo, introduced House Bills 1415 and 1416 to the Legislature last week. Zaiser was the sole sponsor of both bills.

HB 1415 specified that “A person may not sell, purchase or possess a semi-automatic rifle manufactured after July 31, 2013, which has the ability to accept a detachable magazine and has at least two of the following: a folding or telescopic stock, a pistol grip that protrudes conspicuously beneath the action of the weapon, a bayonet mount, a flash suppressor or threaded barrel, or a grenade launcher.”

It is a good thing that Zaiser’s ill-fated bill was quickly rejected by lawmakers. The bill would have eliminated the sale of one of today’s most popular style of firearms that is used extensively in shooting sports competitions by safe, law-abiding citizens. In addition, bayonet mounts have been on millions of firearms in America since the Revolutionary War, yet such mounts, not bayonets, are a problem now? Seriously?

Also, I’ve never or heard of a grenade launcher on any of the civilian-use rifles targeted by Zaiser. Somewhere, somebody may have one, or a look-alike, but possessing grenades is clearly illegal. The wording is inflammatory.

HB 1416 introduced by Zaiser says “A person may not sell, purchase or possess a large capacity ammunition feeding device manufactured after July 31, 2013.” Large capacity is defined as 10 rounds or more. However, Zaiser’s bill made an exception for .22 rimfire rifles that are fed through a tube which would hold far more than 10 rounds. Perhaps Zaiser is unaware that statistics show the little .22, outside of war, is responsible for more deaths than any other caliber of firearms.

Quite understandably, there is a national focus on how to prevent mass murderers from unleashing their mayhem in the future. But proposals like Zaiser’s, in effect, punish countless law-abiding gun owners who also vehemently detest senseless killings. Is it any wonder that gun owners feel their Second Amendment rights slipping away due to the heinous acts of a few obviously deranged people?

Nearly all of the semi-automatic handguns currently possessed or for sale today were manufactured to accept magazines containing 10 or more rounds of ammunition. Some handguns were designed around what is called a “single stack,” 10-round magazine that inserts into the pistol grip. However, the majority of full-sized handguns come with standard “double stack” magazines that typically hold 15 to 17 rounds of ammunition.

Ironically, it is the smallest semi-automatic firearms, those easiest to conceal, that usually contain 10 or fewer rounds of ammunition. It should also be noted that magazines can be switched so rapidly, even by average shooters, that there is little noticeable delay in a shooting sequence. Experienced revolver shooters trigger six rounds, reload and fire with amazing quickness.

Firearms are here to stay. U.S. citizens own millions of them, protected by the “the right to keep and bear arms.” I’ve talked to numerous firearms owners about proposed gun legislation. Despite how gun owners and advocates are portrayed, the vast majority is not adamantly and unanimously opposed to any viable solution to tragic events like what occurred at Newtown, Conn. However, they are keenly aware of any infringement of the Second Amendment that begins the process of chipping away at freedoms and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution.

Zaiser’s proposals showed a willingness to trade the rights of all citizens in exchange for ineffective legislation. Quite properly, both bills have been trashed.

The Fargo lawmaker did not reply to two e-mail requests for an explanation of why the bills were drafted or if he intends to introduce similar legislation in the future.