Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled the U.S. constitution’s second amendment affirms individuals have the right to bear arms, expect a slew of attempts to overturn restrictive gun laws in major cities across the country.

The court’s majority opinion gives individuals the right to keep handguns in their homes for self-defense. It does not allow them to carry handguns in public in places where there are laws against it. These are the laws that will be contested. Also, laws that prohibit possession of guns by felons or mentally unstable persons will remain, as they should.

It has long been this column’s feeling that owning a handgun is not all that different from owning a rifle or shotgun. A loaded handgun, kept safely in the home, can quickly be retrieved to forestall anyone intent on entering the home in the dead of the night. Many would-be burglars will now have to think twice before trying to jimmy a window in Washington, D.C., the city where the lawsuit originated, knowing the occupants could now legally be armed. We all know there are tragedies that occur with handguns, children get their little hands on them with horrible results sometimes.

Even police officers have had accidents with their service handguns, such as a recent event when a police officer shot his leg while putting his gun in its holster. There will never be an end of accidents or sudden acts of violence simply because a gun was handy at the time. Despite the hue and cry by anti-gun groups, hunting and gun ownership are among the safest of sports and that’s why insurance companies don’t require restrictive policies for those who hunt or own handguns.

Laws are already being changed as can be seen in Georgia, where residents of that state with concealed weapons permits will now be allowed to carry guns into restaurants, trains and buses and state parks. Statistics show gun-related accidents are much fewer than medical accidents throughout the country. According to a recent article in USA Today, California, during the first five months of this year, reported 1,002 “adverse events” which included operating on the wrong body part or wrong patient, objects left in surgical patients or wrong surgical procedures. This does not mean we should give up doctors or hospital stays any more than it means we should give up guns.

The anti-gun, anti-hunting crowds are now clamoring for ways to get around the decision allowing handgun ownership, claiming the country will be less safe. Nonsense, many of us feel the country will be a little safer now that criminals will never know who is armed or not and knows how to use a handgun. It is unlikely there will be a sudden increase in handgun accidents or murders because the average gun owner has a respect and fear of the guns he might own.

Yes, many of us fear our guns knowing what they can do and that’s why we are overly careful with them. Don’t judge the majority by the stupid ones who get in trouble with guns. They are the same ones who disregard speed limits, take chances on water or get themselves in trouble that requires others to rescue them. We will always have the knuckleheads among us, but the rest of us can handle guns safely and responsibly. Let us hope that in time the Supreme Court does not have a new justice and attempts made to reverse this historic decision.

- Much of the Southern Tier could be open for bear hunting this fall, according to a proposal by the Department of Environmental Conservation. Many of us who have hunted Southern Tier counties over the years began noticing a few bears where none had been seen about 20 or more years ago. My first sighting was while on a deer watch at the top of Cameron Hill in Steuben County many years ago. Steuben is one of the counties that will be open for bear hunting. At first I thought it was a big dog, but as it lumbered across an opening there was no doubt. It was a smallish black bear. DEC officials say the heaviest increase in bear is in the Allegany and Catskill regions. Public hearings will be held throughout the state with the closest to our area being at Evans Town Hall in Angola from 7 to 9 p.m. July 17.

- With what can laughingly be called unsettled weather has not helped fishing in the least. One day bass are almost leaping in the boat then we get rain, wind, hail and just about anything else Mother Nature can throw at us. Now we have that yearly scourge flowing moss, to add to our tale of woes. The moss is really an underwater growth of weeds that breaks loose and interferes with trolling or casting in the Niagara River, both upper and lower. It will die off as we approach the fall season, but while it’s here it sure can be nuisance.

Many of us tie a large treble hook on the line about six feet above the lure or bait because when the moss strikes a line it travels down it until enough collects to hide the lure or bait. You will know when moss has collected as the action of the lure will be gone and you will feel the weight of the moss. Then you must crank the line back in, clean the moss off and try again. It gets frustrating, but there is little that can be done to rid the river of the moss. It can be especially bothersome after a windy day that churns the water breaking of more of the pesky stuff. It might slow your fishing a bit, but the season is just getting into full swing. Enjoy it. Before you know it, snow will be falling!

Joe Ognibene is a local sportsman who has covered the outdoor scene since 1957.

Outdoors Calendar

Monday, July 7

- LaSalle Sportsmen’s Club meeting, 7 p.m., Tuscarora Road, Niagara Falls. For more information, call 297-0410.

- North Forest Rod and Gun meeting, 7:30 p.m., off Old Niagara Road, Lockport.

Tuesday, July 8

- Walk-in deadline for the Lake Ontario Pro-Am Salmon Team Tournament out of Oswego County is 5 p.m.). For more information, visit or call 315-349-8323.

- The 18th annual Erie Canal Fishing Derby starts in Niagara and Orleans counties through July 20. More than $20,000 in prizes will be awarded. For more information, visit or call 772-7972.

Wednesday, July 9

- Iroquois Arms Collectors Association meeting, Amvets Post No. 26, 600 Ward Road, North Tonawanda. For more information, call Bill Mudge at 772-2261 or Ken Mottorn at 434-7110.

- Rapids Rod and Gun Club meeting, 7 p.m., Rapids Volunteer Fire Hall, Rapids Road, Lockport.

- Boats, Bait and Beer Dinner and Auction for the Greater Niagara BassEye, 6 p.m., Buffalo Boat Harbor, 1111 Fuhrmann Blvd., Buffalo. Tickets are $50. For more information, call 686-9400.

Thursday, July 10

- Hartland Conservationists Club meeting, 7 p.m., Orangeport Road, Gasport.

- Wilson Conservation Club meeting, 8 p.m., 2934 Cambria-Wilson Road, Wilson.

- Basseye Fishing for a Cure for Cystic Fibrosis out of the Buffalo Boat Harbor. For more information, call 686-9400.

- Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Association meeting, 7 p.m., 4-H Building of Cornell Cooperative Extension, 4487 Lake Avenue (Route 78), Lockport. Captain Ron Penna of Buc-A-Roo Charters is the featured speaker, giving near-shore tactics for king salmon.

Friday, July 11

- Captain’s meeting for the 14th Annual Lake Ontario Pro-Am Salmon Team Tournament, which will be held out of Oswego County Saturday and July 13.

Saturday, July 12

- Day one of the Oswego County Pro-Am Tournament.

- Ameri-Can Classic Walleye Tournament out of Dunkirk, Saturday and July 13, hosted by the NY Walleye Association.

— Bill Hilts Jr.

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