July 2, 10:25 AM1
A new Rasmussen poll released earlier this week reveals that 57 percent of Americans believe gun sales have skyrocketed in this country over the past several months because of fears that the government – now under control of the Obama administration and a Democrat Congress – will move to restrict gun rights.
Since just before last November’s election that put Barack Obama in the White House and has now finally put Far Left Democrat Al Franken in the U.S. Senate from Minnesota – giving Democrats a 60-seat filibuster-proof majority in the upper house – American citizens have been flocking to gun shops, gun shows and sporting goods stores. They’re stocking up on arms and ammunition, primarily semiautomatic sport-utility rifles and handguns, and home defense shotguns out of concern that ultimately, the anti-gun Nancy Pelosi Congress will move to ban those guns.
Now with Obama’s nomination of anti-gun-rights Judge Sonia Sotomayor for a pending vacancy on the Supreme Court, all bets are off in the gun community. The other day on TownHall.com, former NRA President Sandra Froman, a Tucson, AZ attorney urged her fellow gun owners to oppose the Sotomayor nomination. Alan Gottlieb, chairman of the Bellevue-based Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, immediately came out swinging in late May when Sotomayor’s nomination was announced.
Sotomayor’s view on the Second Amendment clearly reflects an extreme anti-gun philosophy, and some Democrat senators from pro-gun states are justifiably nervous.
- Sandra Froman
Gottlieb’s forward-thinking rejection of Sotomayor said the nomination affirmed gun owner concerns about the potential of an Obama-Pelosi gun control scheme, and the new Rasmussen poll bears that out. Rasmussen found that 63 percent of American men are concerned about the gun control threat, as are 51 percent of American women. Sixty-five percent of Republicans and 66 percent of non-aligned Americans (those not affiliated with either major party) believe gun sales are up due to the potential of new restrictions.
A whopping 71 percent (the same ratio that rejected Washington State’s insidious Initiative 676 back in 1997) told Rasmussen pollsters that they believe it is “somewhat likely” that Obama will push for tougher gun laws.
Meanwhile, Rasmussen revealed that only 20 percent of U.S. voters think that tighter restrictions on guns in this country will have an impact on the Mexican drug war. The Obama administration and Congressional anti-gunners have tried to capitalize on the drug war to suggest more gun control in this country, claiming that 90 percent of the firearms used by warring drug cartels come from the United States. It’s a lie that has been refuted in this space and by my colleagues repeatedly.
More on a USFS recreational shooting closure along I-90
A closure on recreational shooting along a narrow I-90 corridor east of North Bend takes effect today, and there has been plenty of publicity about that, in this space and also in the Seattle Times and on KOMO Radio. The Times generously published a map of the closure area that can be seen here.
District Ranger Jim Franzel says that the 12-month recreational shooting closure will involve a narrow strip from Exit 36 to Snoqualmie Pass.
This closure is in reaction to incidents involving slob shooters; people who not only leave garbage and targets lying around, shoot up appliances, vehicles and other trash, but also people who fire guns irresponsibly and even dangerously along or adjacent to forest roads, in this case the Tinkham Road (USFS 5510).
The actions of a few have affected a lot of recreational shooters, some of whom are not terribly happy, and are concerned this could impact hunting in the area. That’s not so, Franzel assured, as hunting seasons open for bowhunters, black bear firearms hunters, plus grouse and rabbit hunters on Sept. 1.
In addition, people can still carry a gun for personal protection.
Discharging a firearm or any other implement capable of taking human life, causing injury, or damaging property is prohibited across or on a National Forest System road or a body of water adjacent thereto, or in any manner or place whereby any person or property is exposed to injury or damage as a result in such discharge. - 36 CFR 261.10(d)(2)
Under existing USFS regulations, people may not discharge firearms within 150 yards of a residence, building, campsite, developed recreation site or occupied area. Violators can be fined up to $5,000 and/or imprisoned up to six months.
A Gun Week investigation in 2005 revealed that in some ranger districts, all public shooting was being tightened based on the assertion that a forest road constituted an “occupied area.” But a two-year series of stories on the issue led Deputy Forest Service Chief Joel Holtrop to issue a memorandum in September 2007 that stated: “Roads are not inherently considered occupied areas under (USFS regulation) 261.10(d) (1). However, under 36 CFR 261.10(d)(2), discharging a firearm or any other implement capable of taking human life, causing injury, or damaging property is prohibited across or on a National Forest System road or a body of water adjacent thereto, or in any manner or place whereby any person or property is exposed to injury or damage as a result in such discharge.”
Franzel spoke with me the other day and I concurred with the closure, based on information about the reckless, unsafe shooting, and an interview with a contractor who was working in the area. He experienced some uncomfortable incidents involving slob shooters. There is no excuse for shooting along a public road, shooting road signs, shooting toward trailheads or turning the national forest into a dump site.
However, that’s not to say the issue is settled. I am personally going to drive the Tinkham Road in an effort to identify some spots to recommend to Franzel where recreational shooting might be done safely. Specific areas that could be set aside and made safe for shooting with a minimum of improvements almost certainly exist along the Tinkham, where they would offer no conflict with other recreational users including hikers and campers, other than the sound of gunfire. But noise from a shooting area never hurt anybody.
If this 12-month closure is being used for evaluation, such recommendations, not only from me but other recreational shooters, must be part of that.
Presumably, public input will be accepted during this evaluation. For more information, or to offer polite suggestions, contact the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest at (425) 783-6000 or (800) 627-0062. The Snoqualmie-North Bend Ranger Station number is (425) 888-1421.