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Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) Proposes Restrictions on Recreational Shooting

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Your Comments are Crucial! 

The Washington Fish & Wildlife Commission will be considering a proposal on Friday, December 7, that would make it easier to prohibit recreational shooting on land controlled by the Department of Fish & Wildlife (DFW).  This Port Angeles public meeting will be the last of a series of hearings that have been held this summer and fall to consider many issues regarding public conduct on DFW land.

Unless there is an outpouring of comments in opposition to the proposed rules in the next two days, the Commission is likely to rubberstamp the proposal that will be before them this Friday.  The proposed rule, WAC 232-13-130 (1) (b), would authorize the DFW to prohibit the discharge of firearms on any or all portions of Department land at any time and for any (or no) reason.  Without public input, DFW could shut down any of their land by merely posting signs.  In the future, they MAY designate limited areas open for limited shooting under WAC 232-13-130 (2).

 Further, the proposal would create an arbitrary 1000-foot diameter no-shooting area around every designated campground.  Under this proposed language, one individual could be “illegally” shooting one hundred feet away from a campground and be entirely safe while another could be “legally” shooting five hundred and one feet away and be unsafe and irresponsible.  Specific local conditions such as topography and vegetation, variables such as campground usage and season, and the muzzle direction of the shooter, would be removed from the equation. If there are examples of safety concerns regarding specific campsite locations, those should be addressed on a case-by-case basis.  A blanket prohibition to address nonexistent concerns is simply discrimination against the recreational shooters who have a proven record of being remarkably safe and responsible through the years.

 Finally, proposed WAC 232-13-130 (1) (c) would make it unlawful to fail to remove expended shell casings and other target shooting debris after shooting activities.  NRA requests to add a “good faith effort” or “due diligence” standard to the clean-up language have been ignored.  What that means is that a shooter who makes a legitimate attempt to clean up after his target practice session, but only finds 98 of the 100 shell casings he fired, is subject to sanctions for “littering.”

Participation by hunters and recreational shooters at the meeting this Friday is crucial.  Because this is the last in the series of hearings on this proposal, and public input may be limited, it would be even more helpful to submit comments to the Commission.  Given the tight timeframe this must happen immediately!  Comments may be sent in by email to commission@dfw.wa.gov or by fax to 360/902-2448.  You may view the proposed rules by looking up the meeting agenda at http://wdfw.wa.gov/com/dec0807.htm and then clicking on the link under item number nine.  The agenda will also have details regarding the Friday meeting to be held in Port Angeles.

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