Here is an update on this topic from Alan Korwin at Bloomburg Press:
by Alan Korwin, Author
Gun Laws of America
July 11, 2005
Activists around the country are beginning to probe federal shooting ranges, seeking public access, if my inbound emails are any measure. This follows release of news from Bloomfield Press that federal law specifically allows such use (linked at end). So far, authorities have reportedly been resisting the public's interest in following the law, and that's putting it nicely.
No one appears to be surprised by the stonewalling. Some of these target shooters have actually been motivated by the resistance they have encountered, saying it is a good arena for "shoe-leather activism." The reward of having a lot of cool new places to go shooting has also encouraged people to act.
One leverage point was brought up by an attorney. The law specifically says that range fees, which may be charged in some cases, "shall be credited to the appropriation available for the operation and maintenance of that rifle range and shall be available for the operation and maintenance of that rifle range." In plain English, that means the range keeps the money.
Normally, fees are taken away from the unit that collects them, and put in a general fund for all government offices to spend. Money staying at the range is a strong incentive to range operators who might otherwise be reluctant to comply with the federal law.
Wiggle room has been found by some ranges claiming they are pistol ranges, and not rifle ranges. The law is limited to rifle ranges, an undefined term. If rifles are or have ever been used on the range, the authorities would be hard pressed to claim it is not a rifle range. Carbines are rifles. The Uzi carbine popular with some federal officials is technically a rifle, since it is designed to be fired from the shoulder, even though it shoots a 9mm cartridge. The official definition of a rifle is in 18 USC 921:
"(7) The term 'rifle' means a weapon designed or redesigned, made or remade, and intended to be fired from the shoulder and designed or redesigned and made or remade to use the energy of an explosive to fire only a single projectile through a rifled bore for each single pull of the trigger."
The question of federal-shooting-range access seems to be showing potential of becoming a significant national issue, even if only a limited number of shooters nationwide decide to keep up the pressure. Reports are no doubt being made to higher-ups, about calls received from civilians interested in using the ranges.
The Sandra Day O'Connor courthouse range in Phoenix, cited in the first news release, was mistakenly built too short for federal agents to use for qualifications. This may bolster their "pistol range" exemption. Another wild problem in the $150 million facility is reported by a local activist seeking access -- gunfire at the range apparently reverberates throughout the 58,000 square foot building, causing them grief when used by U.S. Marshals, who control the range.
People who contact local federal ranges would be wise perhaps to expect some resistance, dodging, denials, footdragging and even bad attitude, but the law is the law. Be sure your attitude is an exemplary model of cooperation, in the best spirit of the American Dream.
Despite a constant stream of scorn and even bigotry from the news media and the political "left" (a euphemism for socialist-style governance), guns are a wholesome and valuable facet of American life, and routine practice at proper facilities is a good thing.
Important laws such as 10 USC 4309 (this federal-range access law) were enacted so citizens would have a safe place to practice, could improve their marksmanship skills, increase national readiness in the event of an emergency, and get full value out of facilities paid for by the public. It and similar laws are direct recognition -- and implementation -- of a right to keep and bear arms, guaranteed in the Bill of Rights. Marksmanship has been practiced by the American public since the nation was founded.
All of those laws can be found easily in "Gun Laws of America," the unabridged guide published by Bloomfield Press. Each law is included word-for-word, and described in plain English. The new tenth anniversary edition of "Gun Laws of America" is being released in July. All requests for autographed copies (use the "Comments" box on the secure order page) will be honored.
Thank you for all your emails and your support,
and it is an honor to write and circulate these messages to you.
P.S. Reply to a blog attacking use of tax money for shooting ranges:
(The original news is posted here: gunlaws.com/gloaup4.htm)
"Similarly, libertarians typically rail against the nation state and borders, and a legitimate roll for governance (which implies coercion). But everyone on earth belongs to one of the 192 or so nation states and for good reason, like protection, organization, and roads and traffic lights. Red light green light is total coercion at the point of a gun, and for everyone but hard-core libertarians (in their utopian delusions), that's fine.
"One excellent facet of the nation state is armed protection of the borders against those who would do you harm. Again, non-utopians support this system, if the entire planet is any gauge. Life is tough, and dangerous, and a moat has its value.
"Admittedly, this is poorly and inconsistently executed, but one of the other immutable laws is that no one's perfect. A best-of-all-possible-worlds sort of problem. And look around you, we are doing OK, all things considered. People are trying to break in here, not escape.
"Since tax money (coercion) is going to be spent on ranges for the armed services to use (supported by all but flaky fringe fruitloops), a nearly perfect law would be to allow the public to use those necessary facilities too, which the U.S. wisely does. The public, the ultimate source of power, gets double use of its money, the autocracy of other countries is de facto rejected, cooperation between the public and its governance is officially sanctioned, and the people's representatives support the good arguments by enacting the law in the first place."
Proofs of the new 10th Anniversary "Gun Laws of America"
are due in our offices today. Reserve a copy for yourself at gunlaws.com.
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