Congressman Introduces Bill to Put Public Shooting Range on Every National Forest

by Emily Morgan
Photo by: Russell Reynolds

A Congressman from Utah, Blake Moore, recently introduced legislation that would create more access to recreational shooting ranges. In addition, these ranges will be on public lands.

The new “Range Access Act” would require a public gun range in every National Forest. It would also require one on every district managed by the Bureau of Land Management across the country.

The bill also hopes to create safer and designated places to practice shooting. “I’m frankly tired of visiting our public lands and seeing shot-up toasters and TVs,” said Moore, a first-term Congressman.

He added: “This bill aims to establish appropriate shooting facilities to clean up pollution, promote safe shooting, and hopefully recruit more outdoor recreationists to help fund wildlife management in America.”

The bill would also require the Forest Service and BLM to “ensure that each qualifying National Forest and BLM district has at least one designated public recreational shooting range that does not require a user fee, thus promoting wildlife conservation efforts and supporting local communities,” according to Moore’s office.

Land management agencies must also craft ranges with public safety in mind.

New shooting range bill arises following tragic event in Utah

These facilities should also reduce the amount of shooter-caused public-land litter. It hopes to also reduce the likelihood of hitting or interfering with other public-land users, provide rural communities with facilities to teach shooting skills, deliver education classes for hunters, and promote safe outdoor recreation for all.

According to Moore, the element of public safety was central to the new bill’s creation.

“We had a tragic shooting in Utah a couple of years ago,” Moore said. He added that the shooting might have been avoided if there had been an appropriate facility,” Moore said. Both recreational shooting and wildlife conservation groups quickly commended the act’s introduction.

“This legislation is also crucial to ensuring safe public recreational shooting,” says Lawrence Keane, senior vice president for the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

“Congressman Moore’s bill would also benefit conservation by reducing pollution at non-dedicated ranges on federal public lands while also generating additional Pittman Robertson revenue.”

The bill also requires land-management agencies to consider the “proximity of areas frequently used by recreational shooters when identifying a suitable location for a designated shooting range.”

The House Natural Resources Committee has not yet scheduled a hearing on Moore’s new bill.

Moore was also one of the bipartisan members who introduced the MAPLand Act earlier this year. The act updated publicly available mapping resources and was signed into law in May.

The Range Access Act, “cleans up the environment, reduces fire danger, improves public safety, and raises more funding for wildlife management and habitat improvement. Those all sound like solidly bi-partisan topics to me.”