Some of the fondest memories I have of my teen years were the weekends I’d spend at my friend Randy’s house, and it wasn’t just because his mom fed us chocolate-chip pancakes for breakfast.
Randy’s family lived on a farm perched on Highway 43 south of Greenville, NC. Behind the old farmhouse there were acres of farmland, intersected with blocks of hardwood forest that did a pretty good imitation of a jungle, along with numerous drainage canals and creeks.
Randy’s father would give us a brick of .22LR (500 rounds) and send us out for the day, and we’d go out to plink dirt clods, rats, tree stumps, and other targets of opportunity. My memories are beginning to fade a bit, but I do distinctly remember that one of the rifles we used was a beautiful specimen of a Belgian Browning SA-22.
Though I haven’t fired one since the 1980s, the timeless design first manufactured in 1914 remains one of my all-time favorite firearms. They’re also a favorite of collectors as well, with variants of the Belgian-made rifles going for thousands of dollars.
It is also effectively an “assault weapon” according to New Jersey’s borderline-insane politicians.
A legal restriction on the number of cartridges a gun can hold, a proposal that has bounced around the State House for more than a year, has just one hurdle left before it lands on Governor Christie’s desk.
A Senate committee cleared the bill Monday after a hearing that saw gun control supporters and opponents of firearm restrictions make the same emotional arguments they’ve used since the debate over magazine capacity restrictions began.
But the politics behind the bill have shifted, following the changing priorities of the state’s top lawmakers.
Christie, who is positioning himself for a presidential run in 2016 and has boasted that he never has to face New Jersey voters again, is noncommittal on the magazine limit. But he faces intense pressure from firearm supporters around the country – including in key primary states like Iowa – to reject any new gun restrictions.
Senate President Stephen Sweeney, meanwhile, has done an about-face on the measure. When some Democrats first pushed it last year after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut, Sweeney refused to post the bill for a vote. But after he won reelection in November, Sweeney met with the parents of Sandy Hook victims and became a staunch supporter of the measure. Sweeney is one of several Democrats eyeing a run for governor in 2017.
If it becomes law, the bill would mean that gun magazines in New Jersey could hold only 10 rounds of ammunition, down from the current 15-round limit. It’s a restriction that supporters say will help save lives in mass shootings by forcing attackers to change magazines more frequently, giving people more time to escape. Opponents argue it’s tantamount to confiscation of their weapons.