As previously reported, H.R. 4089–the “Sportsmen’s Heritage Act of 2012″–passed the U.S. House of Representatives in April by a bipartisan vote of 274 to 146. The bill will protect and enhance opportunities for recreational hunting, fishing and shooting.
H.R. 4089 was a compilation of four different bills: H.R. 1558, which amends the “Toxic Substances Control Act”; H.R. 3440, the “Recreational Shooting Protection Act”; H.R. 2834, the “Recreational Fishing and Hunting Heritage and Opportunities Act”; and H.R. 991, the “Polar Bear Conservation and Fairness Act of 2011.”
We are pleased to announce that Sens. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and John Thune (R-S.D.) will be introducing similar legislation in the U.S. Senate next week as an amendment to the Senate farm bill. The Tester-Thune amendment (Amendment 2232) will contain most of the provisions from H.R. 4089, including:
The “Target Practice and Marksmanship Training Support Act”: This section amends the Pittman-Robertson Act by adjusting the funding limitations. This allows states more funds, and for a longer period of time, for the creation and maintenance of shooting ranges. The bill encourages federal land agencies to cooperate with state and local authorities to maintain shooting ranges and limits liability for these agencies.
The “Polar Bear Conservation and Fairness Act”: This bill allows for the importation of polar bears legally taken from approved populations in Canada before the 2008 ban.
The Hunting, Fishing and Recreational Shooting Protection Act: This section specifically excludes ammunition and fishing tackle from the “Toxic Substances Control Act,” leaving decisions to state fish and game agencies and the Fish and Wildlife Service, rather than the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA has denied petitions to regulate tackle and ammo under TSCA in 1994 and again in 2011. This codifies that the EPA does not have the ability to regulate either type of item, but does not override local, state and other federal regulations.
The amendment will also include:
The “Recreational Lands Self Defense Act”: This section would prohibit the Secretary of the Army from enforcing any regulation that keeps an individual from possessing firearms in Army Corps of Engineer Water Resource Development projects or facilities. This language would not change the current legal prohibition of guns and dangerous weapons in federal facilities, such as the Corps Headquarters, Engineering Research Facilities, and lock and dam buildings.
The Army Corps owns 7.6 million acres and manages another 4.1 million acres, making it the largest federal provider of water-based outdoor recreation in the nation. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers property includes 400 lakes and river projects, 90,000 campsites and 4,000 miles of trails.
In advance of next week’s introduction, please be sure to contact your U.S. Senators and urge them to cosponsor and support the Tester-Thune amendment (Amendment 2232).