You can check out all the details on the FreedomSight blog, but here's a sample, from a local newspaper:
The U.S. Forest Service, in the form of Boulder Ranger Christine Walsh, is considering changes to how and where recreational shooting is permitted on the 160,000 acres of Arapaho- Roosevelt National Forest she’s charged with managing. And faced with increasing numbers of people driving to the forest to hike, bike, drive and shoot, a total ban on recreational shooting is now on the table.As you may remember from last year, Ms. Walsh is a committed antigun activist who has turned the USFS into a tool for gun-banners. Last year's push — the redefinition of "occupied areas" — successfully shut down my "home range," which had been a shooting area for more than 50 years and which, to the best of my knowledge, had no problems to speak of.
Hunting would not be affected regardless of the decision.
“We are going to make a decision about what parts of the district are appropriate for recreational shooting and which ones are not,” Walsh said Thursday. “We don’t have our minds made up.”
Among the options being considered are a total ban; creation of a formal, managed shooting range; or no changes. Walsh is calling a series of public meetings over the next few months to gather input from as many people as possible, seeking solutions she and her staff may not have considered.
As is normal with antigun activists, the USFS office did not tell the same story twice to the politicans and media who called about the story. Senator Wayne Allard's office, for example, was told that my range wasn't closed because of the redefinition (although that's what the posted signs say), but rather because there was a "subdivision going up across the street." I drove up to the range and looked...there is private forest land across the street. I live in a rural area...there aren't any subdivisions per se. USFS officals told other politicans that the range wasn't closed because of the "subdivision" OR the redefinition, but because a natural gas pipeline is close by. Well, that's true...the pipeline is next to the road, where it is at risk...from bad drivers. Other callers were told there were "complaints, " although nobody could provide the specifics of such complaints.
Let's be clear about something — the goal here is nothing less than the complete elimination of shooting on public lands. This will have a profound effect on not just current shooters, but on upcoming new shooters...because there won't be any. Because of the huge amount of public land in the West, a public shooting range system never developed. The West is full of private ranges, most with a year to (honet-to-goodness) 27-year wait!
For example, I'm trying to get back into the Clear Creek range, which at various times I've been a member. I've been on the list for 14 months and no end in sight. Plus, the Clear Creek range itself is facing huge lease cost increases (see below).
The West, along with the South, has been a huge "buffer zone" against really successful antigun programs. In the West, guns are a given, an accepted part of the landscape. Hunting is one of the largest industries in the Rocky Mountain West. But what if there's no longer anyplace to shoot? Or if the closest public range is 2-3 hours away? What are the implications for the next generation of shooters, or the generation after that?
Couple that with Wal-Mart's decision to stop selling guns in 1/3 of their stores...if you don't sell guns, do you have to carry cleaning gear, ammunition, etc.? Wal-Mart says it was strictly a business decision...they need the floor space. Off the record, at least one major competitor of Wal-Mart is set to follow their lead.
So now there's no place to shoot and ammunition and gear are available only from specialty gun stores. What do you suppose that does to us in the short and long run?
Welcome to the perfect storm scenario...
Let's talk about littering at shooting areas. Yes, there is some, and it sucks. But the real question is who is doing the "littering and why are they not being punished?"
I have spent a lot of time on informal shooting ranges, and I have never once seen a shooter unload a cheap washing machine, a truckload of building wastes or chunks of industrial machinery on the range. So where does that stuff come from? In truth, I don't know, but I do know that my local paper lists a dozen $25 a load "Will Haul" services...hmmmmm.
It is an article of faith in the gun culture that we don't need any more gun laws because we already have sufficient laws to PUNISH THE PEOPLE WHO DO THE CRIME. Yet when it comes to trashing shooting areas, we lower our head, agree that a few "bad eggs" ruin it for the rest of us and promise to do better. Folks, shooters have been cleaning up trashed areas for decades...so far, all we've done is provide a convenient service for illegal dumpers!
Why are we not DEMANDING that the USFS, which as near as I can tell spends their time passing out parking tickets and bleating about how hard their jobs are, ENFORCE THE EXISTING LAWS AGAINST ILLEGAL DUMPING instead of shutting down shooting areas...which will have zero effect on the illegal dumping because shooting is not the problem.
Think about this, folks...a government agency is cracking down on shooters because someone is dumping crap illegally. Does this make sense? Yeah, about as much sense as cracking down on jaywalking to stem an increase in shoplifting. The ONLY way it makes sense is if your true goal is to eliminate all shooting on public lands. Raise the illegal dumping fine to $10,000 an occurance and have a couple of illegal dumpers do the perp walk...think that might have an effect?
Do shooters shoot up the junk dumped on the range? Unfortunately, yes. But there is a solution for this problem as well — if USFS will allow us to do it. A lot of you are probably familiar with the "broken windows" policing concept, most notably used in NYC. "Broken windows" simply says that small crimes such as grafitti can lead to larger more dangerous crimes because the message of ignored small crimes is that no one cares. Okay, a gross symplification...you can read all you ever wanted to know here.
The application to shooting ranges is apparent (to everyone except the USFS, apparently) — if a place looks like a dump, people will treat it like a dump.
The solution is to keep informal shooting areas from looking like a dump.
Obviously, Step 1 is STRICT enforcement of illegal dumping laws.
Step 2 — fix up the ranges — is also obvious. What is not so obvious is that the USFS is absolutely against any such action because it flies in the face of their antigun initiative! My shooting partner and I approached USFS with a plan to clean and grade the range we shot on, cut the berms cleanly, create signeage to show shooters where and how they needed to shoot, cautioning them to clean up after themselves, etc.; sink steel posts with eyebolts and provide cords so shooters would have a place to hang targets (a BIG BIG issue), etc...all out of our own pockets.
The USFS was NO NO NO NO NO, and if any of those things happened, we'd be cited and fined. In fact, USFS said there was no provision for groups to improve or change USFS property, even though the large mountain biking, equestrian and off-roader vehicle groups have Memoranda of Understanding with the USFS that allows these groups to build and modify trails, etc. — do all the things we would like to do, except...
...it appears that USFS has special rules for shooters...
So what happens if we clean up our ranges?
NOTHING, because USFS is running what I refer to as a "rolling campaign" — there's another "critical problem" about shooting on public lands right behind this one, just like how littering followed the 150-yard issue. Note how USFS talks about "pristine wildernesses;" then also note that USFS turned some of the former shooting areas over to the off-road vehicle people, who proceeded to turn the "pristine wildernesses" into something resembling a moonscape.
The advantage of a "rolling campaign" (and I've done them myself) is that it forces your enemy to keep marshaling his forces against a specific issue that you don't care about. Then, when your enemy assembles the facts, figures, charts and graphs, PowerPoint presentations, etc., you ignore them and move on to the next issue, which I'm willing to bet will be those unspecified "complaints," "confrontations" between shooters and bikers/hikers/whatever and noise. Or this, from Jeff Monroe, a Front Range shooter:
Michael, I would like you to know that you could not be more correct in your statement that the USFS is closing all shooting ranges down FAST in the state on USFS land. I am a life member of the NRA, CSSA and the Buffalo Creek Gun Club. Last year our 40-year-old lease increased from $200 annually to over $6000 annually. We were told this was due to the fact that the budget for the forest service had been cut in half. Then we were told that the forest service is using the FLPMA act of 1976 as guide to charge us some 3% per acre per annum of current market value for our 46 acre 600 yard range. Today, we are almost bankrupt...I soon will have NO place to go to shoot.So we get all excited, spend a huge amount of time "proving" that USFS is wrong only to find that USFS has moved on to the next issue.
The ONLY way to stop a rolling campaign is to attack the root issue, what the campaign is really designed to do! And you have to cut the snake's head off, from the top.
Okay, I've gone on too long. I personally think USFS is going to win this one while we're running around trying to convince people that we're the good shooters versus those messy old bad shooters, or that we're the good hunters versus those bad old target shooters...Sarah Brady must be busting her sides laughing at how, like Charlie Brown and the football, we fall for the same old trick over and over again.
We are enormously powerful when we choose to be — it took 8 DAYS from the time I broke the story on BATFE moves against custom gunsmiths until legislation was introduced to solve the problem. Eight days! How much more important is it that we have places to shoot, yet we're allowing ourselves to be led around by a hoop through our noses.
Sorry for the long post.