The Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act of 2015 aka SHARE Act, an omnibus bill, passed the House of Representatives on Friday afternoon. The final vote was 242 Aye to 161 Nay with 30 not voting. Included in the Ayes were 230 Republicans and 12 Democrats while the opponents consisted of 4 Republicans and 157 Democrats.
Why should we care if this bill passed and why should we fight for it in the Senate? If you read the summary below you will see stuff dealing with polar bears, African elephants, and baited fields. Unless you are a wealthy hunter, you might say, “Meh, who cares.”
However, you will also see increased funding for public shooting ranges, an exemption of lead bullets from the Toxic Substances Control Act, and provisions for armed self-defense on Corps of Engineers managed properties. The Griffith Amendment also includes provisions for safe passage of guns and ammunition by non-prohibited persons. Those are things that everyone one in the gun culture, whether v1.0 or v2.0 can care about.
This bill revises a variety of existing programs to expand access to, and opportunities for, hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting.
Hunting, Fishing, and Recreational Shooting Protection Act
Components of firearms and ammunition and sport fishing equipment and its components (such as lead sinkers) are exempted from regulations of chemical substances under the Toxic Substances Control Act. The authority of the Department of the Interior and the Department of Agriculture (USDA) to regulate the use of ammunition and fishing tackle based on its lead content is limited.
Target Practice and Marksmanship Training Support Act
The Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act is amended to: (1) increase the proportion of funding from the Act that states may use for acquiring land for public target ranges, and (2) delay by 10 years until 2026 the date after which interest from the wildlife conservation and restoration fund is available for apportionment.
Polar Bear Conservation and Fairness Act of 2015
Interior must issue permits to allow a hunter to import polar bear parts (other than internal organs) if p the bear was legally harvested in Canada from an approved population before the May 15, 2008, listing of the polar bear as threatened.
Recreational Lands Self-Defense Act of 2015
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers may not prohibit individuals from possessing a firearm in public areas of a water resources development project.
Recreational Fishing and Hunting Heritage and Opportunities Act
Federal public land management officials must facilitate hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting on certain federal public land.
Hunter and Farmer Protection Act
The bill revises standards for determining what a baited area is for purposes of the prohibition on taking migratory game birds.
The National Park Service (NPS) may not prohibit individuals from transporting bows and crossbows if certain requirements are met.
The NPS may establish hunter access corridors.
Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act Reauthorization of 2015
This bill revises the Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act to extend the authority provided to Interior under the Act.
African Elephant Conservation and Legal Ivory Possession Act of 2015
This bill revises and reauthorizes the African Elephant Conservation Act through FY2020.
This bill provides special rules to expand access to federal land and waterways for film crews of five people or fewer.
This is a bi-partisan bill strongly supported by the NSSF, the NRA, Safari Club International, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus, and many other shooting and hunting groups. Indeed, the target range expansion bill was originally proposed back in 2011 by former Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO).
I look at the Republicans who voted against the bill and some I can understand. Rep. Bob Dold (R-IL) took anti-gun Sen. Mark Kirk’s seat though he IS a member of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus. Rep. Dan Donovan (R-NY) is new and represents a Brooklyn and Staten Island district. Rep. Peter King (R-NY) is just an asshole. However, Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY) who represents south-western Kentucky including Paducah has some explaining to do. He is listed as a member of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus and there are a lot of hunters and anglers in his district.
What I don’t understand (or maybe I do) are the 18 Democrats who are members of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus that voted against the bill. Included in this list are past leaders of the Caucus such as Mike Thompson (D-CA) and Bennie Thompson (D-MS). Is their concern and that of their fellow Democrat CSC members polar bears, African elephants, and lead sinkers or is it a need to stick to the Democrat’s anti-gun national agenda?
I’d wager it is unfortunately the latter.
I am thankful that some Democrats – not all of whom are members of the CSC – crossed the aisle to vote for this bill. The goals of the bill are bi-partisan and worthwhile. Now it is on to the Senate where hopefully it won’t get lost in the shuffle. We need to start sending letters, faxes, and emails along with calls to our senators demanding this bill get in and out of committee and brought to the floor for a vote.