Bill: Protecting the right to bear arms on Federal lands administered by the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Mgmt.
by Larry S. Moore
Recently H. R. 5523 was introduced into the U. S. House of Representatives by Congressman Denny Rehberg (R-MT) along with co-sponsors Rep. Bob Bishop (R-UT) and Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA). The purpose of the bill is "To protect the right of individuals to bear arms on Federal lands administered by the United States Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management.". The bill currently has 21 co-sponsors, as reported on govtrack.us (1-5523). Disappointingly, none of the co-sponsors are from Ohio.
This bill is of critical importance as Second Amendment advocates continue to press forward with the expansion and protection of our right to carry in national parks. Additionally the right to hunt on federal lands, whether operated by the National Parks Service, the National Wildlife Refuge system, the Forest Service or the Bureau of Land Management, is also under attack any time firearms (or lead bullets) are banned.
This bill is critical to Ohioans because the Wayne National Forest in southeastern Ohio is under the control of the Forest Service.
Wayne National Forest offers over a quarter million acres of forest land in the Appalachian foothills of Ohio. The Forest Service has District Ranger offices in Nelsonville and Ironton while the field office is located in Marietta. This forest land is critical recreational and hunting land for Ohioans. It contains prime deer and turkey hunting habitat. Ohio ranks very close to the bottom in terms of the amount of public land open to hunting so protecting that right for the Wayne National Forest is critical.
Additionally, the right to carry while pursuing outdoor recreation, regardless of the type of recreation, is critical. A camper was recently killed, and two others injured in Montana by a rogue bear.
Closer to home a robbery of campers at John Bryan State Park emphasizes the need for protection while enjoying the outdoors no matter whether the threat is two legged or four legged. While the robbery occurred in a state park where concealed carry is permitted, it is important that we have the same freedoms when camping in areas operated by the federal government.
The bill was referred on June 30 to the House Agriculture Committee, which then referred it to the Subcommittee on Department Operations, Oversight, Nutrition and Forestry. (Bill text: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c111:H.R.5523.IH:)
I have contacted my Congressman, Steve Austria (R - Ohio 7th District), asking him to co-sponsor this legislation on behalf of all Ohioans. I hope all Ohioans will write their Congressional Representative. Ask them to co-sponsor and help move this bill forward protecting our rights to use firearms.
Outdoor writer and hunter education instructor Larry S. Moore is a long-time volunteer leader for Buckeye Firearms Association and winner of the 2005 USSA Patriot Award and 2007 League of Ohio Sportsmen/Ohio Wildlife Federation Hunter Educator of the Year.