On 26 February, 2016, the Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act of 2015, also known as H.R. 2406, passed the U.S. House of Representatives and sent to the Senate. It was a party line vote; 230 Republicans voted yes, four Republicans voted against the act. One-hundred-sixty-one Democrats voted against H.R. 2406; 12 Democrats voted for it. Thirty representatives did not vote; 17 were Democrats, 13 were Republicans. The bill contains numerous reforms . . .
primarily to clarify and reform previous legislation, much of which is being abused by bureaucratic rules, or state and local governments. While the bill is not a 2,000 page monstrosity, it has quite a bit of detail in approximately 30 pages of dense wording.
Congress cannot get around that reality; if you are going to undo bureaucratic rules that are disagreeable, you have to specify those disagreeable sections. To spare you the time of reading the entire act, here are some of the highlights as I understand them:
- Removes ammunition and sport fishing equipment from the authority of the Toxic Substances Control Act.
- Removes the authority of the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Agriculture to regulate lead ammunition components or lead fishing tackle.
- States that Congress supports the use of federal land for recreational and target shooting, and allows for Pittman-Robertson funds to maintain and construct ranges; allows for Federal, State and Local cooperation in range construction and maintenance, limits liability for federal personnel that allow recreational shooting, and on target ranges on federal land.
- Removes federal bans on the carry of arms for self defense; State law becomes definitive on most federal lands for this purpose; primarily applies to Corps of Engineers managed lands.
- Provides for Hunting, Fishing, and Recreational shooting as valid use of areas designated “wilderness” and “national monument”, unless specifically closed for a valid, documented purpose.
- No permit required or fee allowed in order to transport bows across federal land.
- Protects existing legal ivory as private property; prohibits use of CITES to set restrictions on the possession or sale of legally owned ivory.
- Sets up rules for film crews of 5 people or less on public lands. Prohibits a ban on filming and photograph taking.
- Prevents restriction of legal hunting and fishing in specific forest service lands.
- Requires notice of the closure of any public roads on Forest System lands, along with a justification for the closure.
- Requires a report on court cases and settlements made by agencies, to include the claims and amounts of each case. (This is to shine sunlight on cases of agencies and interests groups effectively conspiring to transfer money from the federal government to the interest groups through the mechanism of legal cases).
- Strengthens the protections for the interstate transportation of firearms and ammunition; provides for recovery of costs, including legal fees if local, state or federal agencies violate this provision.
- Provides for the reassertion of the ability of the States to regulate wolf populations in the Western Great Lakes and Wyoming; removes judicial authority in such cases.
- Requires withdrawal of the recent National Park Service rules on hunting and trapping in Alaska; revokes the final rule issued on October 23rd, 2015.
Most of the above fixes problems created by recent bureaucratic decision or judicial activism; a considerable amount fixes long-standing abuses, such as the ban on exercise of Second Amendment rights on public land managed by the Corps of Engineers, or the abuse of innocent people who are merely transporting private arms across states that actively infringe on Second Amendment rights, such as New York and New Jersey.
According to the NRA, A sister bill has been making its way through the Senate.
It is difficult to estimate the bill’s chances for passage. This is an election year and Republicans control the Senate. Much of the bill’s provisions undo caveats created by the current administration. Given the partly line vote in the House, a veto by President Obama is a significant possibility.
©2016 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.