- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 11, 2016

As Kim Rhode inches towards becoming the first female athlete to medal in six consecutive Olympics, the California-born shooting star recently told reporters that one obstacle in particular has gotten in the way of her performance: American gun laws.

Ms. Rhode, 37, already has three gold medals under her belt and is the only woman to have placed twice for Double Trap. With her eyes on a new world record, however, the Olympian has begun speaking up against legislation that she says limits her ability to train.

“I shoot 500 to 1,000 rounds a day, so having to do a background check every time I purchase ammo, or every time I want to bring ammo in or out of a competition or a match, those are very challenging for me,” Ms. Rhode, 37, told Time in an interview published Wednesday.

Particularly concerning, said the shooter, are recent efforts out of her home state to enact some of the nation’s toughest gun control measures.

“Some of these laws they are starting to pass now, for instance, in the state of California – if I were to purchase a gun, I cannot loan that gun to someone who is not a blood relative so that means that I can’t loan it to my husband or I can’t loan it to an adopted child,” she told The Guardian recently.

“I’ve had guns in my family for generations that have been passed down, and now I’m going to register them as assault weapons. And they will not be passed on to my son, or to me from my father. It definitely does effect me and give me a reason to speak out more,” Ms. Rhode said to Time magazine this week.

Although the left-leaning Guardian newspaper took aim at Ms. Rhode’s claim about the gun-lending measure signed into law last month by California Governor Jerry Brown, AB-1511 — the law, the paper said indeed permits firearm owners to loan weapons to relatives — the Olympian suggested that the current climate with regards to the gun-control debate has created an environment that athletes competing in other sports rarely encounter .

“We have that stigma attached to our sport,” she told Time. “When you are talking to a NASCAR driver, they’re not asked to comment on an incident that occurred with a vehicle.”

“We should have the right to keep and bear arms, to protect ourselves and our family,” she added. “The Second Amendment was put in there not just so we can go shoot skeet or go shoot trap. It was put in so we could defend our First Amendment, the freedom of speech, and also to defend ourselves against our own government.”

Ms. Rhode is expected to compete in women’s skeet shooting Friday in Rio de Janeiro. Pending the results of that competition, the American could become the first female athlete to medal in six consecutive Olympics. She previously won the gold in skeet shooting during the 2012 Olympics in London, and took first place in double trap when the sport was last held in 2004.

• Andrew Blake can be reached at ablake@washingtontimes.com.

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