VA legislators shoot down rifle bill

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Tuesday, February 12, 2002

Legislators shoot down rifle bill

By MARK TAYLOR, THE ROANOKE TIMES

   If you like to hunt turkeys in the spring with a rifle, there's no need to try to sell your favorite combination rifle/shotgun just yet.

   A General Assembly bill that would have outlawed rifles for hunting turkeys in the spring has died.

   House Bill 138, sponsored by Watkins Abbitt, I-Appomattox County, was among the more controversial pieces of outdoors-related legislation being considered in Richmond.

   Though it drew praise from some turkey hunters, it raised the ire of others who say rifles are a traditional and effective weapon for spring hunting.

   Some of those pushing for a ban on rifles for spring turkey hunting cite safety concerns. Statistics bear out that people who are accidentally shot with rifles - during any kind of hunting - face a greater risk of serious injury or death than those shot with shotguns. However, because so few spring turkey hunters use rifles, those types of guns are involved in far fewer accidental shootings than shotguns.

   Some turkey hunters who support a rifle ban in the spring are compelled by ethical concerns. They believe the only sporting way to hunt gobblers is to call a strutting tom to within shotgun range.

   Personally, I wouldn't consider hunting turkeys in the spring with a rifle. Until I see some compelling evidence about the added dangers of rifles for spring turkey hunting though, I can't help thinking it's probably appropriate that a spring gobbler hunter's choice of weapon remains a personal decision.
 

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