A landmark bill to broaden hunters' rights has been passed by the House of Representatives and now awaits Senate approval.
According to The Associated Press, the bill, passed by the House 274-146, will make it harder to restrict hunting on public land, will ensure hunters can still use lead ammo and will allow hunters who legally kill polar bears in Canada to bring their trophies home.
The bill requires federal land managers to support hunting and fishing on Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management land. In addition, the bill provides that the BLM can only close public lands to recreational shooting due to national security or fire safety; in any case, a detailed report citing specific reasons for closure must be submitted directly to Congress.
Second, the bill provides that hunters and fishers may still use lead ammo and tackle despite protests from environmental groups that claim lead poisoning is decimating wildlife populations. The Environmental Protection Agency, however, has stated it will not -- and cannot -- regulate the use of lead ammo, per the Toxic Substances Control Act, which specifically exempts the EPA from regulating the use of lead ammo and tackle.
Finally, the bill provides that U.S. hunters who legally kill polar bears in Canada may bring their trophies home. Such hunts have been banned in Alaska since 1972, but some restricted hunts are allowed in Canada.
Don't start celebrating yet, though. The bill still requires Senate approval, and some Democrats say the bill is unneeded, and that it is simply pandering to the gun lobby.
Should the bill pass the Senate and be signed into law, however, our rights as sportsmen would be greatly increased, allowing us to carry on with even less government interference.
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