Thursday, July 23, 2009

MUST READ - Recreation on Public Lands!

This is from the Colorado Springs Gazette, and we need to circulate it to get the range reopened.  One the same day this person was killed by his friend's negligence another kayaker was killed on a river. In that story, which appeared in the Denver Post just below the shooting story, there was no hand-wringing from Forest Service officials, no call for all rivers — which are, by definition, public property — to be closed to kayaking and rafting, no quotes from anti-kayaking groups. As much as any death is a tragedy, the Ramparts Range was NOT complicit in that death by negligence. The victim's friend violated all four basic safety rules — he didn't treat his gun as if it was loaded, even though it WAS loaded; he pointed his gun at something he OBVIOUSLY did not want to kill or destroy; no matter what he might claim, his finger was DEMONSTRABLY on the trigger and he CLEARLY wasn't sure of his target!

Secondly, I have shot at quite literally hundreds of ranges, formal and informal, around the world. In every case, the primary "supervision" for the shooter on the line HAS TO BE in the head of the shooter! The safety is in your head!

USFS in Colorado has been hell-bent to shut down any shooting area they could for years, and the Ramparts Range area has always been in the crosshairs. 

Opinion-An outrageous anti-gun move

Comments 123 Recommend 7

A recreational activity took the life of a man when he and a group of friends knowingly engaged in dangerous fun on government-regulated property. If authorities had prohibited the dangerous activity, the man would be alive.

Stop thinking shooting range.

The accident caused the June death of 61-year-old James Kennedy of Woodland Park. Kennedy and his friends, under the supervision of a professional guide, boarded a raft in order to challenge the white-water rapids of the Arkansas River in 2008. As the raft Kennedy rode in approached the F Street Bridge in Salida, it overturned. The water whisked Kennedy away, tossing him like a rag doll.

All on board the raft knew they were risking life and limb, and possibly putting others in danger. Only a week earlier, 67-year-old Oscar Stevenson III climbed aboard a raft on the Arkansas and died near Buena Vista. A few weeks before that, 26-year-old Subhashi Nelakurthi boarded a raft on the Arkansas and died in the Royal Gorge. Dangerous. Needless. Costly to the public.

Kris Wahlers, boating safety coordinator for Colorado, tells The Gazette 10 people have died in Colorado rafting accidents so far in 2009, and two have died in boating accidents on state reservoirs.

These senseless deaths by recreation would end, if only government would block access to the river with concrete barriers and barbed wire.

The 10 killed rafting in Colorado this year would have been in more danger had they chosen to snowboard or ski at any of Colorado’s ski resorts, most of which operate on national forest land. Snowboarding is the most dangerous outdoor hobby in the United States, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control. It is followed by sledding, hiking and mountain biking. All firearms accidents combined kill 1,150 people each year — in a country of more than 300 million privately owned guns.

Recreational shooting, therefore, may be the safest form of common outdoor recreation known to humankind.

The safety of recreational shooting is evident in the fact some 40,000 people each year shoot at the Pike National Forest’s Rampart Range Shooting Range, the only public range in El Paso County. It has been unsupervised since it opened in 1990. Hundreds of thousands of recreational shooters have used the range in 19 years of operation, yet the first death came Saturday. Otis Freison died when a member of his group tragically failed to clear a weapon of ammunition, leading to a negligent discharge.

That’s one fatal accident in 19 years. Imagine if other recreation facilities were that safe. One section of the Arkansas River took four lives in a week last year, yet rafting didn’t stop for a day.

This single shooting death in 19 years led Forest Supervisor Bob Leaverton to close the range indefinitely on Tuesday. That will cause some recreational shooters to practice their sport in more dangerous locations.

Closing Rampart, one of the safest recreational facilities in Colorado, is nothing other than an irrational bias against gun owners and their rights. Pike National Forest belongs to the public, and all must demand this anti-gun bureaucrat reopen the range immediately.


ericire12 said...

Drowning is the 2nd leading cause of death for children..... cars are the leading cause.

Yeah, lets go after guns..... It would save so many more live then focusing on cars, swimming pools, lakes, and rivers.


clark myers said...

Some mighty fancy homes to the west of the Rampart Range shooting area - any connection to shutting it down?

Any suggestions on alternatives open to the public on short notice?

bgary said...

When I was racing sailboats across oceans, it was widely known that in a "normal" year, we'd "lose" a dozen or so sailors. Lose, as in "gone, never to be seen again, unless the body happened to wash up somewhere". Nobody much bats an eye until/unless we lose that many in a single event, like the 1979 Fastnet race (15 dead, 25 boats sunk or disabled during the race). Losing people in ocean racing is just "normal".

So, yeah, I totally agree that throwing the "safety problem" bias against shooting sports is way out of whack. We have a *way* better safety record than sailing (or high-school football, or river-rafting, or scuba-diving, or...) but we always seem to be disproportionately targeted.

lowly said...

Are they seriously thinking of closing that range? This is where I shoot when I visit my folks in the Springs. It's a lovely drive up even with the large houses that have gone up along the way (out of place as they look).

John said...

I was planning on dropping down there to expend a few boxes of 308 & 45 on Sunday after an overnight camping trip in Pike forest with my son. Guess that's not happening now.

Anonymous said...

Rampart range is the best place to shoot in colorado springs. pikes peak in the back ground you can't beat it. when i was stationed at Ft Carson my friends and I would shoot there every chance we got.
the drive up there was worth it.