El Dorado News

Thursday
June 21, 2018
El Dorado News Times
Shea Wilson

Shea Wilson

Guns dominate headlines, but tone changes

By Shea Wilson
This article was published March 4, 2018 at 5:00 a.m.

A Pine Bluff area reader posed a question by email Tuesday: “Did it ever occur to you (or, for that matter — most people) that a Mallard duck has more protection than a school kid? Hunters are limited to three shells in a gun when hunting ducks.”

It had not occurred to me, as I am not a duck hunter. But, gun control advocates who are duck hunters have used the observation in past discussions in the aftermath of mass shootings. Federal law places strict regulations on the types of firearms that can be used when hunting migratory birds. These rules have been in place since the 1930s. Duck hunters are only allowed to use a shotgun (10 gauge or smaller) that carries no more than three shells. If the shotgun carries more than three shells, the hunter is required to “plug” the gun so that only three shots can be fired before reloading.

Also Tuesday, but on the opposite end of the political spectrum, a Georgia lawmaker threatened to “kill any tax legislation that benefits Delta” after the airline joined several other companies in ending a discount program associated with the National Rifle Association. Delta ended its discount program after the school shooting in Florida that left 17 people dead.

Georgia’s Republican Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, president of the state Senate, had been a champion of a proposal that would give the Atlanta-based carrier a sales-tax exemption on jet fuel, but he changed his mind after Delta ended its discount program.

“I will kill any tax legislation that benefits @Delta unless the company changes its position and fully reinstates its relationship with @NRA,” Cagle wrote on Twitter. “Corporations cannot attack conservatives and expect us not to fight back.”

True. But politicians cannot attack large corporations and expect them not to fight back. With 33,000 employees statewide, Delta is Georgia’s number one private employer, directly responsible for $43.5 billion in economic impact a year. I’m guessing if Delta decided to leave Georgia based on Cagle’s comments, the lieutenant governor’s political value would be worth the same as those NRA discounts.

Then Dick’s Sporting Goods announced several things pertaining to guns, most significantly that the chain would not sell assault-style rifles and wouldn’t sell to anyone under age 21. Walmart made a similar announcement.

President Trump approves of the age restriction and called for taking away guns from people who are deemed a threat, even if violates their due process rights: “Take the guns first, go through due process second.”

Of course, the NRA doesn’t agree with the age restriction but did support “no buy” measures two years ago for those on terror watch lists.

NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch told CNN that increasing the age required to purchase firearms like that used in the recent Florida school shooting “is not going to solve psychosis.” NRA spokeswoman Jennifer Baker said: “Passing a law that makes it illegal for a 20-year-old to purchase a shotgun for hunting or adult single mother from purchasing the most effective self-defense rifle on the market punishes law-abiding citizens for the evil acts of criminals,” she said.

These points are true and they have served the NRA and its influence well for years. But we are living in different times. The people who can vote and go to war at age 18 today are the same ones who have lived through routine mass shootings. They may not mind being denied their rights to keep and bear arms until age 21, if they connect it with self-preservation.

Back to those migratory birds. The Mallard has managed to survive since protections were placed on it back in the 1930s. Perhaps today’s young people will make it as well.

Shea Wilson is the former managing editor of the El Dorado News-Times. Email her at melsheawilson@gmail.com. Follow her on Twitter @SheaWilson7.

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