by Karen Mehall Phillips - Thursday, August 25, 2022
American hunters and shooters are under attack by the Biden administration again, this time in the state of Arizona. Yesterday the Department of the Interior (DOI) published a Notice of Intent in the Federal Register announcing plans to reexamine public shooting access on the Sonoran Desert National Monument and to conduct an associated environmental assessment. According to the NRA Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA), which issued an alert to NRA members across the Grand Canyon State, the plan includes a proposal to shut down access to hundreds of thousands of acres that are currently open to recreational shooting, which would decrease available public lands by 90 percent.
For background, in 2018 the DOI’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) approved a Target Shooting Resource Management Plan Amendment (RMPA) that resulted in the opening of more than 435,000 acres of Arizona’s Sonoran Desert National Monument for target shooting. NRA-ILA applauded the decision to expand opportunities for recreational shooters to exercise their Second Amendment rights, but now the Biden administration seeks to overturn that win.
As the NRA-ILA alert and Arizona-based media outlets explain, “This latest action comes in the wake of the Department of the Interior entering into a settlement agreement with several extremist environmental groups. This action is also just the latest in a string of decisions by the Biden administration to cede decision-making authority to these extreme groups at the expense of law-abiding gun owners and recreationists.”
Of course, as mainstream hunters and shooters are aware, extremist groups have worked for years to trample sportsmen’s access to public lands. Just last year, NRA-ILA and NRA Publications reported that a federal judge sided with the NRA by holding that hunters could continue to pursue opportunities on federal lands using traditional ammunition, yet extremists fight 24/7 to prevent any expansion of hunting and fishing opportunities on those lands.
“If there was any doubt left as to how the Biden Administration will treat law-abiding gun owners, hunters, and recreational shooters, this latest action puts it to rest,” the NRA-ILA alert continues. “It also highlights the importance of the upcoming November election, as pro-Second Amendment majorities in the U.S. Congress will provide a check against an unbalanced executive branch.” In the meantime, as the policy news source PoliticoPro.com put it, “Target shooting in Arizona's Sonoran Desert National Monument is back in the federal planning crosshairs.”
NRA-ILA will continue tracking the scenario and is reminding hunters and shooters that yesterday’s notice in the Federal Register kicked off the standard 30-day public comment period, which will run through Sept. 23. Those who wish to submit comments to the BLM website opposing the public-land closure on the Sonoran Desert National Monument and recommending a BLM “No Action” alternative can click here. Remember that comments should be respectful and explain how the proposed land closure would impact the commenter personally as identical comments are treated as one comment.
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