August 2003

Downrange: 08/03

ALL THE WAY TO THE TOP
The U.S. Supreme Court justices have altered their summer schedule to make room for lengthy and complicated arguments against the campaign-finance reform law enacted by Congress last year. The National Rifle Association is challenging it in 12 related cases and others arguing that preventing involvement in political campaigns is a violation of the First Amendment’s freedom of speech protection. Oral arguments are scheduled for September 8, at a time when the court usually is standing down in preparation for a new session that starts in October.

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WAL-MART SETTLES IN NY
The nation’s largest retailer has agreed to pay $200,000 in a court settlement and abide by New York laws after being charged with selling toy guns that look too much like the real items. An orange end piece is required on toy gun barrels by federal statute, and New York additionally requires a non-removable orange stripe along the end of the barrel. Wal-Mart agreed to include the stripe for any toy guns sold in New York, and to follow a state law prohibiting the sale of toy guns in realistic colors of black, blue, silver or aluminum.

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CALIFORNIA GOES AFTER THE .50 CALIBERS
California’s legislature is working on a series of measures that could affect firearms owners. The Assembly has passed restrictions on .50-caliber rifles and ammunition, and the Senate has approved a measure to require loaded-chamber indicators and magazine-disconnect devices on handguns. Each will now consider the other’s approved bill, but the good news is that an attempt to impose a fee of a nickel on every round of ammunition sold in the state does not appear to be moving forward.

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ONTARIO JUST SAYS NO!
The Toronto Star reports “Ontario has joined Nova Scotia and three Western provinces in refusing to have anything to do with the federal gun registration law that so far has cost more than $1 billion.” Attorney-General Norm Sterling called the law “dumb” and is refusing to prosecute anyone who fails to register a rifle or shotgun.

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SHOOTING SPORTS RANK HIGH AS PASTIMES
More Americans hunt with firearms, enjoy muzzleloading guns, or participate in various other target-shooting activities than play soccer, softball, or tennis combined. According to the National Sporting Goods Association’s annual research study, Sports Participation in 2002, some 42 million individuals aged seven years and older enjoyed some form of the shooting sports more than once during the past year. Hunting with firearms, with 19.5 million participants, ranked 16th in popularity out of 43 sports activities surveyed. Target shooting, with 18.9 million participants, ranked 17th. Both sports grew in popularity since the previous year’s study. Hunting participation rose 1.6 percent from 19.2 million in 2001. Target shooting increased 9.6 percent from 15.9 million. Muzzleloading sports ranked in the top ten in terms of growth, increasing 11 percent with 3.6 million participants in 2002, compared to 3 million the year before.


-by Todd Woodard