Illinois gun legislation should be Trap Shooters' Wake-Up Call

By Larry S. Moore

I've been a hunter my entire life, or at least since about age 10. I started participating in trap shooting when I was about 16 years old. While I hunt every year as much as possible, my trap shooting activities have experienced peaks and valleys.

The peak of my trapshooting was from about 1990 through 2005. I believe the first Grand American Trap Shoot was held in Sparta, Illinois in 2006. Since that time, my interest trapshooting has declined. I was active in protecting gun rights and promoting gun ownership long before I became involved in the concealed carry movement in Ohio.

During the Amateur Trapshooting Association (ATA) evaluation and debate on the location of new shooting grounds, many locations were examined. There was a lot of debate regarding each facility. Sparta, Illinois soon emerged as a leading contender. There was much debate on the merits of Sparta, the rather remote location, lack of hotels; lack of restaurants and even if the facility would be constructed in time for the first Grand American.

Very few trap shooters were concerned about the anti-gun attitude of the State of Illinois. They pointed out that was northern Illinois and Sparta is solid southern Illinois. I wrote many editorials and several pieces regarding Illinois gun laws, restrictions and general harassment of gun owners. Southern Illinois legislators successfully pushed legislation that the trap shooters at Sparta would not have to possess Firearm Owners ID Cards to purchase ammunition or compete in Illinois.

I still wasn't convinced. In fact I am still rather angry that the ATA went to Sparta and gun owners spend thousands of dollars every year in a state that, basically, hates them. Like OSU icon Woody Hayes refused to buy gasoline in Michigan, I have refused to go to Sparta.

I've been told I am missing shooting at a wonderful first class facility. I am sure Illinois does not miss my money.

Now Illinois Representative Kenneth Dunkin has introduced legislation to amend the Illinois Firearm Owners Identification Card Act to require gun owners to maintain a policy of liability insurance of at least $1 million specifically to cover damages caused by any firearm owned. The policy must cover the firearm even after it is stolen for any acts that happen before the theft is reported to the police. Presumably this will only apply to Illinois residents and the shooters at Sparta will be exempted. Certainly the safety record of the ATA and The Grand American Trap Shoot is stellar.

This is a wake-up call to the ATA and trap shooters to become more actively involved in protecting and promoting Second Amendment rights throughout the United States. Many trap shooters are members of the NRA and have concealed handgun licenses. Many want and need the security provided by being able to carry for self-protection as they travel with expensive trap guns and money to shoot.

However, many more trap shooters appear to have adopted the mantra that gun control doesn't affect their rights or their expensive single barrel or over/under trap guns. It is time for the hundreds of thousands of trap shooters to bring their voice, their effort and their money to bear on Second Amendment issues across our country. Their collective voice has been too quiet for too long.

Trap shooters need to step to the plate and join with their brother and sisters in the fight for our firearms rights. Whether it is by supporting groups like the NRA, the Illinois Rifle and Pistol Association or by contributing to Buckeye Firearms for the upcoming battle with the City of Cleveland, trap shooters stepping up to the gun rights line can step from the shadows and join the fight to protect all our rights.

Outdoor writer and hunter education instructor Larry S. Moore is a long-time volunteer leader for Buckeye Firearms Association and winner of the 2005 USSA Patriot Award and 2007 League of Ohio Sportsmen/Ohio Wildlife Federation Hunter Educator of the Year.

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