A recent poll found one hot political item on which Republicans, Democrats and independents agree. Last week Pennsylvania's Quinnipaic University reported 94 percent of Republicans, 96 percent of Democrats and 94 percent of independents support "requiring background checks for all gun buyers." Support remained between 94 and 98 percent despite the respondents' age, education level, where they lived and whether they had children or owned guns. When the question was rephrased, "Do you support or oppose requiring background checks for all gun buyers?" the results remained the same.
In Pennsylvania, a federal background check is not required for purchases of long guns from private, non-licensed gun sellers such as hunters and target shooters.
The Quinnipaic poll showed less agreement on other gun-related questions: 60 to 35 percent favor a nationwide ban on the sale of military-style semi-automatic rifles; 59 to 39 percent favor a nationwide ban on the sale of magazines holding more than 10 rounds. The Jan. 22-27 telephone poll surveyed 1,221 registered voters in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Florida, Ohio and Virginia, with a margin of error of plus or minus 2.8 percentage points.
National Rifle Association executive vice-president Wayne LaPierre said last week he opposes universal background checks. "My problem with background checks," he said at a U.S. Senate gun control hearing Wednesday, "is you're never going to get criminals to go through universal background checks."
A recent NRA-commissioned poll of its members found 92 percent oppose the creation of a federal law banning the sale of firearms between private citizens. The poll also reported 93 percent of NRA members oppose requiring gun owners to register with the federal government, 91 percent support laws preventing the mentally ill from keeping firearms, 92 percent oppose gun confiscation via mandatory buy-back laws, and 89 percent oppose banning semi-automatic rifles. The telephone poll of 1,000 NRA members was conducted Jan. 13-14 with a margin of error plus or minus 3.09 percent.
Game board president
At last week's state Game Commission board meeting, Robert Schlemmer of Export, Westmoreland County, was elected commission president. Appointed to the board in 2009, he was elected vice-president in 2012.
Other board actions:
• A proposal to eliminate the extended regular firearms deer season in Wildlife Management Units 2B, 5C and 5D. The Special Regulations Areas of Allegheny, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties would retain the extended season.
• A plan was announced to split Wildlife Management Unit 2G into two parts. The new portion would be called WMU 2H. Details including boundaries and hunting seasons and bag limits will be determined if the plan is adopted at the board's April 14-15 meeting.
• Proposals to change fall turkey seasons in several WMUs, provide an earlier start to the junior and regular squirrel seasons, and four changes to expand bear hunting. See details at www.pgc.state.pa.us.
• The board approved a proposal to support "complete eradication" of feral swine and wild boar, removing protections statewide. Final approval will be voted on in April.
The Community College of Allegheny County will hold an eight-week course on freshwater fishing. Karen Gainey, certified to teach fishing by the state Fish and Boat Commission, host of "Karen's Fishing Corner" on Pittsburgh public access TV and Venture Outdoors fishing instructor, will teach the course 6:30-9 p.m. Feb. 18 through April 15 at Carson Middle School, McCandless. The course covers basic fishing, aquatic environments, fish species, tackle, artificial lures and fly fishing. $109, info at 412-369-3703, registration at 412-369-3701.
Gainey will teach a separate independent advanced fishing class 6:30-9 p.m. Feb. 19 through April 16 at Kings Restaurant, Wexford. Includes location patterns, bait patterns, new lures and products and hydrographic maps of regional lakes. $85, 412-310-7523.
Gander Mountain, West Mifflin, beginner fly tying class Feb. 5 6:45-8:30 p.m. through April 16, $30 materials and tools provided, 412-655-3337, 412-389-6037.