3 years, 10 months ago
Gun owners who have historically been able to use public lands for target practice would be barred from potentially millions of acres under new rules drafted by the Interior Department, the first major move by the Obama administration to impose limits on firearms.
Officials say the administration is concerned about the potential clash between gun owners and encroaching urban populations who like to use same land for hiking and dog walking.
“It’s not so much a safety issue. It’s a social conflict issue,” said Frank Jenks, a natural resource specialist with Interior’s Bureau of Land Management, which oversees 245 million acres. He adds that urbanites “freak out” when they hear shooting on public lands.
If the draft policy is finally approved, some public access to Bureau lands to hunters would also be limited, potentially reducing areas deer, elk, and bear hunters can use in the West.
So exactly how would such regulations be implemented?
This is the key paragraph foes say could lead to shooters being kicked off public lands:
“When the authorized officer determines that a site or area on BLM-managed lands used on a regular basis for recreational shooting is creating public disturbance, or is creating risk to other persons on public lands; is contributing to the defacement, removal or destruction of natural features, native plants, cultural resources, historic structures or government and/or private property; is facilitating or creating a condition of littering, refuse accumulation and abandoned personal property is violating existing use restrictions, closure and restriction orders, or supplementary rules notices, and reasonable attempts to reduce or eliminate the violations by the BLM have been unsuccessful, the authorized officer will close the affected area to recreational shooting.”
The new regulation may as well say that for any reason under the sun when an employee of the BLM wants to close down lands to shooting, he may do so at his discretion. This has a potentially huge affect on shooters, and the most remarkable thing is its broad sweep (note that implementation of the regulation doesn’t require demonstrated safety issues), combined with the bypassing of the process for making law – you know, the Congress. Congress has been left out because, you know, the Obama administration knows better than to have to wait on something silly like the law-making process.