Saturday, July 29, 2006

Saturday Catch-Up Before My Bike Ride

I meant to mention this yesterday, but the August 2006 edition of SOLDIER OF FORTUNE Magazine has a great summary article on the USFS antigun jihad, written by Gun Week editor and Second Amendment advocate Dave Workman. Right now, that story is available only for on-line subscribers, but I'm going to ask Bob Brown to post it openly on the SOF site. Here is one of the germane quotes regarding the "150 yards from an occupied area" USFS rule, which the USFS Greenies, on their own authority, are enforcing as "150 yards from any road:"
But it appears the shooting restriction may be on shaky ground, both legally and administratively. Mark Rey, undersecretary for Natural Resources and Environment for the Department of Agriculture told Gun Week the "occupied area" interpretation that some local USFS officials have been using to prohibit shooting within 150 yards of a road is bogus. Rey, in an interview published last August, said the alleged ruling by the unidentified federal judge is an "urban legend, or, in this case a rural legend."

"There is no such ruling." Rey said emphatically at the time.
When you read the earlier Gun Week article, you'll see that the Boulder USFS district ranger told Dave there was a "subdivision" nearby the first shooting area closed down, and she had received complaints from the subdivision. Upon reading that, I raced up to the range to search for the subdivision. There isn't one, and I'd be HAPPY to provide digital pictures. I live in the closest "subdivision," which is not a subdivision in the urban sense of the word, and I'm at least 2 miles as the crow flies to the range.

Yes, I could occasionally here gunfire from the range — pretty rarely; depends on the weather — just as I can hear gunfire during the hunting seasons. I LIVE OUT IN THE COUNTRY, FOR HEAVENS SAKE! That's why I live here. When newcomers from California move to our little mountain town, we give them a pamphet that explains the facts of life of rural Colorado snows and the roads don't get plowed, cowshit smells bad, the police and volunteer fire response time may occasionally be measured with an hourglass, cows may wander onto your property, bears will eat your garbage and lions and coyotes will eat your pets, forest fires are real and scary things and, YES, we shoot and hunt. Live with it or leave.

The same USFS official told Senator Wayne Allard's office that the range was ACTUALLY closed because there was a natural gas pipeline nearby, and it was at risk. Yes, there is a pipeline nearby, ALONGSIDE THE ROAD, and it is at risk...from Californians with brand new 4-wheel drives on icy roads! There has NEVER been a problem from shooters.

You can read Dave Workman's excellent initial story in Gun Week from June 2005, when the jihad started. Check the Archives for "Obscure Reg Threatens Forest Lands Shooting." In that story, the USFS Greenie mouthpiece, Ann Melle, urged recreational shooters "not to panic."
Melle urged hunters and shooters to approach their local ranger districts in an effort to seek common ground and accommodation, rather than declare open political war.


Meanwhile, USSF’s Melle encourages shooters and hunters to not become alarmed. “Rather than fire off a Second Amendment letter to your congressman,” Melle suggested, “here’s what you can constructively do in your area.”

Using the shooting sports roundtable as an example, she suggested that shooters and hunters should work at the local level within various ranger districts to deal with shooting sports issues.
Amazingly, we (with the possible exception of my big mouth) stood down. Within 12 months, USFS-planted stories began appearing in local papers about the "shooting crisis" on public lands. USFS officials privately spoke to local politicians and told them that full prohibition was on the table. Public meetings to "address the crisis" were promised, then announced in such a way that the only reason we even found out about them was an emergency bulletin from the NRA.

In short, USFS officials have lied to the media and to public officials about the scale of the antigun is well-planned and well-funded...the POSTED signs were in the warehouse and ready to go up. If you know anything at all about federal procurement, you'll know it doesn't happen overnight. The USFS mouthpiece was sent out to difuse criticism and buy time to get the signs up and the program established...and it worked!

The public meetings were a disaster for USFS, because they highlighted the facts that:
1) There is no problem regarding recreational shooting, including plinking, on public lands.
2) There is a USFS agenda regarding recreational shooting.
3) USFS was unable to find ANY supporters for their program in Boulder, the most liberal city on the Front Range.
4) By their own admission, USFS has NO documentation on problems with shooters or shooting areas.
5) Now that they've been dragged into the light, USFS is scrambling to find authorization and justification for the jihad.
After the metings, USFS officials were so angry they could barely speak to us. In one case, a top USFS official was throwing her "charts and graphs" back into her cars and snapping at subordinates. My sources inside the Greenies tell me that the largest shooting area in Boulder Canyon, Lefthand Canyon, which is TOTALLY within 150 yards of a state highway, remains open because the Greenies "lost their nerve" after the meetings. The Greenies expected to do "showcase" meetings and come out with "mandate" to end shooting on public land.


So now the USFS is putting together their "suggested solutions" to the non-problems they uncovered!

Does anybody actually think those USFS "solutions" will be in our favor? Here are some of our "solutions" the Ad Hoc Committee has been discussing:
1) Immediately reopen all shooting areas closed by the 150-yard misinterpretation. To me, this is not a negotiable point — those areas were closed in violation of the law, and a reopening of the closed areas is nothing more than an act of good faith.
2) Immediately adopt a "no net loss" policy on shooting areas — if USFS LEGITIMATELY closes a traditional shooting area, they should be obligated to open another of the same size and access within a reasonal area.
3) Immediately cease and desist harassment of shooters, including those just "plinking."
4) Immediately provide maps at Ranger headquarters and on Ranger-maintained bulletin boards at ALL trailheads and recreational areas that show traditional shooting areas and explain the REAL federal statutes that govern shooting on public lands. USFS routinely does this for equestrian groups, kayak put-ins, climbing areas, etc. — all of which, by the USFS' own admission, carry the same legal liability risks as recreational shooting.
5) Immediately meet with shooting groups, including the Ad Hoc Committee to discuss appropriate signage for traditional shooting ares.
6) Immediately begin consultation with real shooting sports/firearms experts on safety and shooting issues. The one thing to clearly come out of the meeting is that USFS Rangers are abysmally ignorant about firearms, shooting, shooting sports and gun safety. The Department of Wildlife officers would be a good start!
Make no mistake...this is a full-blown "open political war" and maybe the biggest RKBA issue to surface in years. It goes to the heart of the antigunners' campaign...give us small victories while eliminating places to shoot (and access to guns and ammunition). If we have fewer and fewer places to shoot, to introduce our children and newcomers to shooting, to practice, to recreate and have fun shooting, the antigunners don't need to win any big victories. We'll be dinosaurs, and just as dead.

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