The readers of Bearing Arms know that the Second Amendment is not about hunting. As much as we’ve dealt with progressives trying to appeal to the gun owning crowd by talking about duck hunting as a youth or having their trusty double barrel shotgun ready for home self-defense by shooting into the air or through a door, we know that many of those politicians are hacks trying to placate. That all being noted, anytime a pro-conservation bill is introduced and gaining traction, it’s worth noting. In November of 2021 Senator Joe Manchin from West Virginia introduced S.3266 – Outdoor Recreation Act. The bipartisan bill, cosponsored by Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming, was reported that the latest action indicates “Ordered to be reported with an amendment in the nature of a substitute favorably” by the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources on May 3, 2022. This means the bill can move to the floor of the Senate for a vote.
According to govtrack, a website dedicated to tracking legislation, only 1 in 4 bills make it out of committee. The site also reports that Skopos Labs indicates this legislation has an 18% chance of full enactment.
What is the Outdoor Recreation Act? According to the summary the bill aims to do several things:
This bill provides for additional recreation opportunities and facilitates greater access to federal public lands.
If the public does not need to obtain a permit or reservation to access an existing picnic area, neither the Department of the Interior nor the Department of Agriculture (USDA) may require an outfitter or guide serving fewer than 40 clients to obtain a permit to access that site.
Interior and USDA shall construct and designate shooting ranges on National Forest System land and public land administered by the Bureau of Land Management for the public to use for recreational target shooting.
As far as our constitutional right to keep and bear arms, this legislation will help safeguard the public’s ability to partake in marksmanship training by expanding access to places to shoot. Again, we’re often approached with this hunting is what the Second Amendment is all about mentality, which it’s not, we do need to celebrate the instances where land and resource management will help protect our rights.
One of the many hinge pins of the first NYSRPA case, the one v. The City of New York, had to do with the ability for New York City residents to have access to facilities to train at and transport their firearms to. The insinuation of some of the arguments lean on the fact that free and unadulterated access to shooting ranges is part of keeping the rights of the citizens from being infringed upon. The mooting of that case, as a matter of my opinion, was wrong for many reasons, with one being the establishing that the right to keep and bear arms does include the transport of and practice with said arms.
The summary of the bill also notes the legislation seeks to expand access of internet in remote areas as well as providing funding for other programs:
Interior and the Forest Service shall enter into an agreement with the Rural Utilities Service to install or construct broadband internet infrastructure at recreation sites on federal land.
The Bureau of Reclamation shall establish a competitive grant program to provide grants to conduct inspections and decontamination of watercraft in reservoirs operated and maintained by Interior, including to purchase and operate a watercraft inspection and decontamination station.
Interior and USDA shall establish a pilot program under which Interior or USDA may enter into an agreement with a private entity providing for capital improvements (including the construction of structures and improvements), management, and maintenance by the private entity of a campground on federal land.
While it’s a positive thing to see such legislation make it out of committee, there’s still an uphill battle. As noted, the speculation is this bill has only an 18% chance of being enacted and anything that helps the normal citizens do anything involving firearms in any capacity is not likely to be green-lighted by Sleepy Joe’s handlers. The “Big Guy” has outwardly shown his disgust for the law-abiding gun owner, regardless of his affection towards having ole Jill blast a couple of shots from the trusty double barreled into the air as a means of self-defense. Senator Manchin, perhaps the unsung hero of keeping the Union from completely falling apart, needs to be saluted for pushing for such measures to be passed by the legislature. We’ll be closely watching the progress of this legislation and report back with any important updates.