Friday, September 16, 2011

Gun News

Illinois: Legislators remain split on Right-to-Carry

The May defeat of concealed carry legislation left some Illinois residents upset. U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren released a press statement addressing a letter he recently sent to Illinois lawmakers regarding concealed carry legislation. In the letter, Hultgren pointed out that the Supreme Court has made it clear that the Constitution guarantees Americans' individual rights to protect themselves in the Second Amendment, ruling in 2008 and 2010 that Americans have the right to possess firearms. The letter goes on to urge lawmakers to join the rest of the states in passing this legislation and to stop denying the citizens of Illinois the legal right to protect themselves.

House considers whether Right-to-Carry permits can cross state lines

Congressional lawmakers yesterday heard testimony on a federal bill that would give Americans who hold permits to carry firearms in their home states the right to carry their weapons across state lines. The sponsors of the legislation, dubbed the National Right to Carry Reciprocity Act, maintain that people's Second Amendment rights should encompass the right to carry their firearms outside their home states.

Read About It: The Wall Street Journal

Time is Running Out; Washington Hunters Must Speak Now!
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has imposed a ban on the use of traditional (lead) ammunition for all upland bird hunting on all WDFW pheasant release sites across the state.  This restriction was adopted by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission two years ago but its implementation was delayed until this hunting season.  The Commission adopted the restriction during the course of its 2010-2012 hunting season-setting process.

With this in mind, it is critical that hunters and sportsmen participate in the 2012-2014 season-setting process.  The WDFW is now in the initial public comment phase of the process, which will end this Tuesday, September 20.  You can bet that the anti-hunting extremists are participating in the process, so the importance of hunters and sportsmen participating cannot be overstated!  Please see below for details on how to submit your comments.

The current traditional ammunition restrictions pertain to quail, dove, pheasant and any upland bird hunted on the pheasant release sites.  No scientific studies have been cited showing population-level impacts of lead ammunition on these species in Washington.  Further, published scientific papers elsewhere admit they don’t know that there are any problems associated with the use of lead shot to hunt upland game.  The WDFW seems to be acting on emotion and politics, citing the “potential” for problems associated with lead ammunition as the basis for these far-reaching restrictions. 

The NRA believes that the current push to ban the use of traditional ammunition in Washington is part of a new strategy being used by anti-hunting and anti-gun activists all over the country to attack our hunting traditions and firearm freedoms.  Traditional ammunition bans have a significant, chilling effect on hunting by pricing hunters out of the market while hunters’ ranks are already in decline.  Having fewer hunters is a threat to the future of our hunting heritage and means less funding for wildlife and habitat conservation.  The opposition’s “next logical step” will be to propose a complete, statewide ban on traditional ammunition in Washington.  This is the pattern in other states so don’t think “it won’t happen here!”

Although it is too late to do anything about the existing restriction on traditional ammunition for this season, hunters and sportsmen now have the opportunity to demand that the restriction be withdrawn for the next three years and vocally oppose any further unsubstantiated restrictions on the use of lead in ammunition.  The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies has adopted a traditional ammunition resolution stating that "state agencies should focus regulation efforts where population-level impacts to wildlife are substantiated." (AFWA - 2010 Lead Ammunition and Fishing Tackle Resolution) (emphasis added).  With no population-level impacts cited, it is time to tell the WDFW that emotion and politics have no place in wildlife management.

With that in mind, it is important for you to submit your comments and concerns to the WDFW.  Your voice matters!  Comments must be submitted by Tuesday, September 20.  Please request that the ban on the use of traditional ammunition on pheasant release sites be lifted in 2012 and beyond, and demand that there be no further unsubstantiated restrictions imposed on the use of lead in ammunition in the future.

Comments can be submitted via e-mail, by sending them to Rene Henson; be sure to put “2012-2014 Hunter Comment/Concern” in the subject line. You can also submit comments via regular mail, please address your letter as follows:

ATTN: Wildlife Program Hunter Comment 600 Capitol Way N.
WA 98501-1091

In addition to submitting specific comments by e-mail or mail, you can take the WDFW “2012-2014 Hunting Season Development Survey.”  This scoping survey asks a series of questions on issues ranging from the spring black bear harvest to cougar management.  At the end of the survey you can choose to submit “additional comments”; from there you can click “Other” and leave a comment relating to the regulation of lead ammunition in the comment box provided.

California: NRA/CRPAF Reveal Obstruction Of Lead Ammunition Research Probe But Efforts to Obtain Information Continue
National Rifle Association (“NRA”) and the California Rifle and Pistol Association Foundation (“CRPAF”) representatives made presentations to the California Fish and Game Commission (“Commission”) at its June 30, 2011 meeting in Stockton, California. The presentations revealed the numerous obstacles frustrating the NRA/CRPAF’s pursuit of underlying data behind taxpayer funded “research” that is being used to advocate proposed lead ammunition bans in California and in other states.
The information behind these research studies must be critically evaluated to determine the legitimacy of claims being used to support lead ammunition bans. But despite being paid for with scarce taxpayer dollars, the data is not being made publically available. This lack of transparency has limited meaningful participation by NRA, CRPAF, or the general public in this important regulatory policy debate.
The recent NRA and CRPAF presentations to the Commission highlighted just some of the difficulties encountered while seeking to obtain these vital public records. Obstacles being thrown up in the face of the NRA/CRPAF probe include claims that data has been destroyed, and that other data is being withheld on legal grounds. To see the letter to the California Department of Fish and Game (“DFG”) laying out these problems, click here. To view the Commission meeting video, click here for part one and click here for part two.
For several years, NRA/CRPAF attorneys have been seeking the original research data underlying the claims being made to purportedly justify proposals to ban the use of lead ammunition in California. Significantly, analysis of the data obtained so far has revealed significant problems with the research methods and samples used to support these proposals. For example, the NRA probe revealed that the authors of the “Church Report” had not incorporated all the relevant underlying data into their findings and had omitted data that did not support their conclusions. When these omissions were revealed to the Fish & Game Commission in August 2009, proposals to expand the current condor zone lead ammunition ban statewide, to include all lead ammunition under the ban, to ban lead .22 rimfire ammunition for hunting rabbits, and to ban lead shot for hunting migratory upland game were all rejected by the Commission. At the time, the “Church Report” was one of the primary scientific studies being relied on to support the lead ammo ban proposals. Upon seeing that data had been selectively excluded from consideration, several Commissioners criticized the scientific validity of the “Church Report” findings. One Commissioner even called it “pseudo-science.”
More recently, NRA/CRPAF public records requests have sought the underlying data being used to support conclusions reached in new University of California, Davis (“U.C. Davis”) lead ammo studies. Some of the requests seeking public records related to these taxpayer-funded research projects have been blocked by various governmental agencies and the universities. Both the University of California, Santa Cruz (“U.C. Santa Cruz”) and U.C. Davis refused to produce the documents and underlying data, claiming they were exempt from production under the California Public Records Act under an alleged “researcher’s privilege.” Both universities claim that information relating to scientific research is “privileged” until that study is published in a peer reviewed journal. But the California Public Records Act contains no exception for a “researcher's privilege” and such "unpublished" studies are being routinely used by the researchers to influence the public policy debate on the regulation of lead ammunition. This is a clear double standard.
Apart from the claimed "researcher's privilege," U.C. Santa Cruz has also made excuses, including claiming it will take eighty weeks to provide responsive documents relating to published studies, even for those to which the alleged researcher’s exemption admittedly does not apply (i.e., published studies). U.C. Santa Cruz’s actions forced the CRPAF to initiate litigation to obtain the information.
After the NRA / CRPAF presentations at the June 30, 2011 Stockton hearing, Commissioner Richard B. Rogers expressed great concern about the problems with public access to data, saying that the situation is “quite troubling.” Commissioner Daniel M. Richards went on to say, “I think the good news I’ve heard across the Commission . . . is that there is unanimity that everybody wants to have all of the data to make the right decisions.”
But the stonewalling continues. Now NRA and CRPAF are asking the Commission to assist the associations in getting the information needed to evaluate the legitimacy of the “research” behind the proposed lead ammunition bans.
In response to claims by environmentalist groups that lead ammunition is the primary source of poisoning condors, and their efforts to ban the use of lead ammunition nationally, the NRA has engaged the expertise of environmental experts and scientists, as well as the civil rights and environmental law firm of Michel & Associates. For several years the NRA and CRPAF have been spearheading an effort to gather information and science to oppose the expansion of lead ammunition bans. This has involved coordinated efforts between interested parties to plan, research, conduct clerical work, and make numerous formal requests for documents from government agencies via Public Records Act requests and Freedom of Information Act requests. NRA’s team has been engaged in the long and arduous process of obtaining and analyzing tens of thousands of pages of public records concerning information relied on to propose lead ammunition bans, including original data and internal documents not previously obtained or reviewed by independent analysts or the public at large. The effort has already resulted in the rejection of several proposed ill-conceived lead ammo bans in California.

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