Don't laugh - there has been a number of bits of legislation in various states that ended up outlawing guns used by hunters. New Jersey had a proposed piece that would in essence have banned many guns used by sportsmen. It passed. If you are new to the shooting sports, here are the basic details. On June 12, 2008 the New Jersey Assembly Judiciary Committee passed A2116 by a vote of 5-1, virtually banning ALL firearms over .50 caliber. Proponents of the ban attempted to demonize an entire class of firearms and their owners by claiming the only intent of these firearms were criminal misuse. They said "we're after the criminal, not the hunter". You know, those criminals that use the Thompson Center Deer Hunter to knock off a bank or that old Buckskinner flintlock Carbine to take hostages.
But it banned more than that, banning many popular hunting guns and historical American firearms based simply on alleged public safety concerns. Included were replicas from the Revolutionary War and Civil War eras, guns that last time I checked, were favored by Historians not criminals. They were banning guns on the size of the barrel rather than that old fashioned method of actually punishing criminal behavior.
In 2005 Rep Jim Moran (D-VA) tried to do the same thing, introducing H.R. 654, which he called the ".50 Caliber Sniper Rifle Reduction Act." As with other "gun control" bills, the name didn't accurately reflect the bill's fine print. In addition to inventing the term ".50 caliber sniper rifle", it included ANY rifle "capable of firing a center-fire cartridge in 50 caliber, .50 BMG caliber, any other variant of 50 caliber, or any metric equivalent of such calibers." In addition to rifles that use the venerable .50 Browning cartridge, many other .50 caliber rifles would have fallen under that broad definition. Such rifles, all designed and/or widely used for hunting, not for sniper use,were invented between the 1860s and 1970s.
The bill didn't become law, but that doesn't mean it won't come up again. Sure, you can hunt with many guns that are smaller than that, but the point is, once they start banning the muzzle loaders and the historical .50 cals that MANY hunters use, when does it stop?
There's more of these bills out there, and more to come. Read the fine print, check with the NRA and your state gun rights organizations, many of which track current legislation and provide information on what you can do. For those in Illinois there's http://www.isra.org/legislation/. If any of you have links for your states, please put them in the comments. I'll organize them and put them in my sidebar for reference.
Because I'd just as soon save those golden delicious apples for myself.