We’re shooting ourselves in the foot.
Political anti-gun hysteria in this country is inspired, in at least some measure, by… shooters. Not just criminals who threaten, rob, steal and kill with firearms, but also productive, non-violent, recreational shooters who never hurt anything other than cans, bottles, boxes and junked electronics they blast full of holes and leave scattered across public lands.
Yes. Sadly, frustratingly and maddeningly, irresponsible shooters are jeopardizing our freedom to shoot on OUR BLM and Forest Service lands. Their inconsiderate actions may soon deny YOU the chance to venture onto empty public lands to zero your deer rifle, dust a few clays, plink at a few cans, test long-range precision or pop a line of balloons with your 22 rimfire.
Anyone who’s shot on some of the popular BLM and Forest Service “plinking sites” understands this. So does any non-shooter who’s merely stumbled onto one. They are unmistakable eyesores. They look like small town dumps circa 1960. Sparkling landscapes of busted glass, tin, paper, plastic, cardboard, appliances, electronics, cathode ray tubes, computer screens, washing machines, toilets, sofas and even automobiles. All of it overlain with incriminating plastic shotshell hulls and tarnishing brass cartridge cases.
Damning evidence, to say the least.
According to an article by Brian Maffly in the April 14, 2016, Salt Lake Tribune, the BLM “is proposing to close 3,450 acres in Utah Country’s Lake Mountains to recreational shooting…”
Why? “…years of resource damage that have scarred and spattered rock art, shot up rocks and trees, endangered public safety and ignited wildfires.” BLM wants to “manage impacts” from what it politely calls “undisciplined shooting” that leaves the land fouled with the kind of trash enumerated above.
In response, the Utah Shooting Sports Council blasted the BLM’s plan, saying it scapegoats shooters. Uhhh, who should we scapegoat here? Birders, berry pickers and ice skaters? A board member of this pro-shooting council noted that “billions of rounds” have been fired in the proposed closure area over 40 years with no injuries. That’s great, except injuries are not the problem. Littering and vandalism are.
As a shooter who has often enjoyed the freedoms of public lands on which to zero, plink and train — and as a citizen who appreciates the aesthetic of grasslands, sagebrush and forests unscarred by shooter trash — I understand both sides of this issue. But common sense and a passionate desire to retain my rights to shoot on public land inspire me to come down hard against slob shooters.
How do we end this destructive littering that borders on vandalism? How do we protect our privilege to target shoot on public lands?
I want your ideas. Please send them and I’ll revisit this topic in the near future. I have a line on some Utah shooters who are working on a plan, but we want all the ideas we can get. Either we stop shooter littering on public lands or we’ll be stopped from shooting on public lands.
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