Gun owners who have historically been able to use public lands for target practice would be barred from potentially millions of acres under new rules drafted by the Interior Department, the first major move by the Obama administration to impose limits on firearms.
Officials say the administration is concerned about the potential clash between gun owners and encroaching urban populations who like to use same land for hiking and dog walking.
“It’s not so much a safety issue. It’s a social conflict issue,” said Frank Jenks, a natural resource specialist with Interior’s Bureau of Land Management, which oversees 245 million acres. He adds that urbanites “freak out” when they hear shooting on public lands.
If the draft policy is finally approved, some public access to Bureau lands to hunters would also be limited, potentially reducing areas deer, elk, and bear hunters can use in the West.
Conservationists and hunting groups, however, are mounting a fight. One elite group of conservationists that advises Interior and Agriculture is already pushing BLM to junk the regulations, claiming that shooters are being held to a much higher safety standard than other users of public lands, such as ATV riders.
Read more from Paul Bedard, U.S. News.