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The NRA's idea of recreation: Assault rifles, armor-piercing bullets and silencers

Dana Milbank on

WASHINGTON -- The days are growing colder, and soon millions of American hunters will pursue a time-honored tradition. They will load their automatic weapons with armor-piercing bullets, strap on silencers, head off to the picnic grounds on nearby public lakes -- and start shooting.

If you do not immediately recognize this pastime as part of America's heritage, then you are sadly out of step with the current Republican majority in Congress. On Tuesday, a House panel takes up the "Sportsmen's Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act of 2017," which promises "to protect and enhance opportunities for recreational hunting, fishing and shooting."

Among these recreational enhancements:

-- Allowing people to bring assault guns and other weapons through jurisdictions where they are banned.

-- Rolling back decades-old regulations on the use of silencers.

-- Protecting the use of armor-piercing bullets.

 

-- Easing importation of foreign-made assault rifles.

-- Protecting the practice of baiting birds with grain as they migrate and then mowing them down.

The House Natural Resources Committee was to have had a hearing on the bill in June, before the baseball-practice shooting that seriously wounded House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) led to its cancellation.

But the National Rifle Association was not to be denied. In a statement last week, the gun lobby's director applauded the revival of the bill, which, he said, "will protect America's hunters and recreational shooters and help preserve our outdoor heritage." Among the GOP witnesses for Tuesday's "recreational shooter" hearing: Stephen Halbrook, author of a book that draws parallels between the current gun-control debate and Nazis' disarmament of Jews.

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