By MIKE CORN
GOODLAND -- Despite relatively strong support for a request allowing the use of silencers to control wildlife, there was only moderately lukewarm support for limiting the cartridge capacity in semi-automatic weapons used by big-game hunters.
Both were brought up at last week's meeting of the Kansas Wildlife and Parks Commission meeting in Goodland, and both gained the nod to move ahead in the regulatory process.
Paul Babcock urged the commission to do what it could to limit the amount of ammunition big-game hunters can load in a gun to prevent all-but-aimless and dangerous shooting.
Babcock, from Hoxie and a hunter education instructor, said some hunters fill 30- and 40-round clips in the rifles they use and sometimes empty the clips while trying to gun down a deer.
"It seems inappropriate to me and dangerous," he said.
As a hunting education instructor, he said the practice violates several guiding principles.
Twice already, he said, he's had to scramble down from a tree stand when someone was shooting to seek cover.
Babcock suggested the possibility of limiting the number of rounds to three that could be loaded in a rifle, a number he chose because it is what the limit is for hunting waterfowl.
Babcock's message was warmly received by several commissioners.
"Speaking for me, I'm happy to consider this issue more thoroughly," said Commission Chairman Kelly Johnston.
Commissioner Gerald Lauber, however, recalled when he was 15 years old and was shooting a rifle that would hold more than the three rounds suggested.
Lauber said he thinks it would be difficult to do through setting a rule or regulation.
"I don't see any reason to do that," he said. "I don't see that it's something that we need to get involved in."
Babcock said he thinks the state's wildlife agency is already involved, through the hunter safety program.
Commissioner Robert Wilson, Pittsburg, complained that most assault rifles are .223-caliber -- too small for hunting big game in Kansas.
As a result, there would only be a small number of weapons being restricted.
"So I don't really see the need to address that myself," Wilson said.
"Why would you need more than four bullets when you're out deer hunting?" Commissioner Debra Bolton wanted to know.
Commissioner Frank Meyer, Herington, agreed that three rounds would be plenty.
"I think it's something we ought to do," he said.
With the support of a majority of the commission, the issue will move ahead for consideration.