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Sarley: Gun owners’ fears likely unwarranted

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As soon as the election returns had been tallied enough to declare a winner, the e-mails started. In just a few short hours, I started to get missives telling me that the 2nd Amendment was going to be tossed out the window and guns would be banned.

When President Obama was elected in 2008, it spurred a tremendous boom in gun, ammunition and accessory sales. It seems that the prevailing sentiment was that the new Commander-in-Chief was going to ban guns in our country.

This time around it took less than twelve hours for the email messages stating that our 2nd Amendment was in jeopardy, to start flowing. The most popular message was that the United Nations was going to order a vote on its world-wide weapons ban and that the U.S. had decided to be a part of it.

I don’t really understand the U.N. and I am very confused by all of the talk about a weapons ban. I have read enough material about the subject to make my head hurt. After all is said and done, I believe that this whole issue is one that I am not going to fret about. I do not see us ever having our guns taken away.

I am not trying to be a Pollyanna here. I do not fear a countrywide ban.

What I do fear are restrictive and punitive taxes and regulations being put on guns and ammunition at the state and local levels. Heck, we see this happening all of the time. I believe that we have to keep vigilant about this.

All of that said, I wondered if we were experiencing a huge boom in gun sales after the re-election like we did after Obama’s initial victory in 2008. When I have a question like this, I go to my “go-to-guy” on the subject, Bill Preskar from HP Shooting Center on Route 120 in McHenry.

I like Bill and both his shop and his range. The shop and range are relaxed and non-intimidating. It’s a friendly place where you feel like you belong and would be able to take the entire family. Preskar is a laid-back individual who is able to intelligently explain his facts and opinions in a clear and concise manner without letting emotion color his thoughts.

I asked him if he was being swamped with business since Election Day. He replied, “Yes, Steve, business is good but there isn’t the strong panic buying like there was the last time. It seems to me that business is good on the distributor and manufacturer level. I think that the distributors placed a lot of orders anticipating a boom in sales but the retailers aren’t seeing it, at least not yet.”

Don’t get me wrong. Business is quite fine. People are interested in new purchases. They are interested in training and are interested in practicing to become better shooters. What I do not see is the panic buying and massive hoarding like we saw four years ago.”

I told Bill that from a purely anecdotal point of view, I felt that the number of people getting interested in hunting and shooting was growing and some of it was coming from other than traditional sources. I have heard from a number of women asking for referrals for shooting training. The number of complaints I usually hear from ladies in regard to the lack of availability of women’s hunting clothing and equipment has easily doubled as of late.

I’ve even been asked by my entire family to arrange a group outing to a pistol range. I couldn’t believe my ears when the request was made. The plan was actually hatched by my daughter and my daughter-in-law. They both said that they were submitting their applications for FOID cards. I told them this was unnecessary for a day outing at a range but they said that they really wanted to own the cards. Just a couple years ago, these women would have been repelled by the thought of firing a gun. Times have certainly changed.

I don’t know the exact cause, but I believe the word is quickly spreading that shooting handguns at a range is safe and controlled and is, plain and simple, a lot of fun. We, as human beings, thrive on competition and shooting at targets next to a friend and comparing scores certainly meets that, doesn’t it?

Jim Shepherd, publisher of “The Shooting Wire,” has reported a number of facts he has gleaned in conversations with industry people from coast-to-coast: Modern sporting rifles are selling briskly, but handguns are dominating sales; ranges have never been busier; gunsmiths are being overwhelmed with guns coming in for deep cleaning and maintenance; 2012 will be characterized by double-digit growth for gun sales in most areas and low triple-digit growth in hot locations.

Shepherd says that “Recent newcomers continue buying second, or third guns because they’ve discovered they really enjoy shooting. They say fun, not fear, fuels their purchases.”

I concluded my visit with Bill Preskar by tossing around a couple of opinions regarding this whole U.N. issue and we seemed to agree that nothing dire for gun owners seemed imminent. It looked to us both that the shooting sports are in a good state of affairs for the time being.

• Northwest Herald outdoors columnist Steve Sarley’s radio show, “The Outdoors Experience,” airs live at 5 a.m. Sundays on AM-560. Sarley also runs a Web site for outdoors enthusiasts, OExperience.com. He can be reached by e-mail at sarfishing@yahoo.com.

OUTDOORS NOTES

Hunting/fishing report

Northern Illinois: Dave Kranz from Dave’s Bait, Tackle and Taxidermy in Crystal Lake reports: “This season’s rut seems to be what I would call a trickle rut. The most dominant bucks have found their first does and are looking for another. Waterfowl hunters are seeing a lot of birds both field hunting and water hunts.

It is not too early to get your ice gear in order. It will be here before you know it. I have had good reports from muskie fisherman using 9- to 12-inch suckers.” Call 815-455-2040 for updated reports.

For up-to-the-minute water conditions on the Fox Chain and Fox River, visit foxwaterway.state.il.us/ or call 847-587-8540.

Wisconsin: Call Wisconsin’s Lake Michigan Fishing Hotline at 414-382-7920 to hear the latest fishing information for Lake Michigan and its tributaries.

Archery deer season

Through Sunday, Illinois archery deer hunters harvested 41,025 deer. Last year’s preliminary harvest for the same period was 40,509 and the five-year average for 2007 to 2011 was 41,727. The harvest to date consists of 51 percent does, but male harvest continued to climb during the past week as rutting activity increased. Males comprised about 66 percent of the weekly harvest total. The top five counties to date are Pike (1,867), Fulton (1,366), Jefferson (924), Adams (920) and JoDaviess (846). The totals for local Illinois counties showing 2011/2012 are: Kane 196/189, Lake 228/234, McHenry 375/418 and Winnebago 261/309.

Sportsmen’s legislation

In the next couple of days, the Senate is expected to vote on the most comprehensive package of sportsmen’s legislation in recent years. The Sportsmen’s Act of 2012 includes 15 bills that will benefit the sportfishing community, as well as recreational shooters and hunters. This legislation provides for increased access, habitat conservation and improved fish and wildlife management. Anglers want to make an impact and “KeepAmericaFishing” is a way to channel their concern and passion for our sport and help pass this essential piece of legislation. Please visit KeepAmericaFishing.org/sportsmensact and follow it to the “Take Action Now” page. This is a simple way to send a message to your legislators urging them to support this important legislation.


Firearm deer season

Illinois hunters will head to the field this week for the state’s busiest and most popular hunting season, the Illinois Firearm Deer Season. It begins Friday and runs through Sunday. The seven-day firearm hunt will conclude Nov. 29 through Dec. 2. In 2011, Illinois hunters harvested 98,820 deer during the seven-day firearm deer hunting season. This season, about 334,000 permits have been issued. For information on remaining permits, check the Illinois Department of Natural Resources website at dnr.illinois.gov/hunting/deer. The legal hunting hours for the firearm deer season are one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset.

Steve Sarley

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