Archive for January, 2009

H.R.45

Friday, January 30th, 2009

I was emailed a link today that has the text of H.R. 45, which is a gun licensing bill.  I have scanned the bill, but have not spent enough time with it.  I thought I would post the link up here, and let you all take a look (if you haven’t yet), and then let me know what you think.

How do you think this bill will affect our rights as gun owners?  Do you think it is something that could be good, or bad?

I see a few things that throw up some red flags in my mind, but I’ll let you all have first crack at it.

Here is the link:  Text of H.R. 45

Punishment for Game Law Violations…

Friday, January 23rd, 2009

Most states have a point system that is used to dictate the punishment that comes from various game law violations. For example, in West Virginia, one can lose points on their license for various violations.  Here are some of the violations listed in the game law book:

  • 10 points use of spotlight with firearms or other implement.
  • 6 points illegal possession or sale of wildlife or illegally killing deer, boar, or turkey.
  • 6 points hunting from a motor vehicle.
  • 4 points all other hunting violations.

When a person racks up 10 or more points, they lose their hunting or fishing privileges for a period of 2 years.  I could not find any evidence in the game book that longer penalties are enacted in the state of WV.

While doing some “online reading” today, I came across a story that I thought you all might be interested in.  In North Dakota, there is a current bill that has been proposed that will lengthen the period of time that a hunting license can be taken away from a repeat offender.  This is to help close a loop hole where hunters from other states who have lost their licenses for a longer period of time than the 3 year maximum now in the ND law, come to the state to get to hunt.  ND, like many other states, have a reciprocal agreement.  If you lose your license in Wyoming, for example, you cannot go into ND to hunt.  However, other states have a “lifetime ban” for those who are chronic repeat offenders.  The 3 year maximum currently applies to even those who have lost their license on a lifetime ban in other states.  The change in law would make it possible for ND to ban these chronic offenders as well.

I personally like the idea that chronic game law offenders can lose their license for life.  Granted, this is not going to stop those who have no regard for hunting laws anyway (like those that are mentioned in the linked article above).  They are still going to poach deer.  However, if they have their license taken away, the punishment can be much more harsh when they are caught, even if caught in a different state.

The point system is fair for most of us.  It allows for us to have minor violations by accident.  Regardless of how honest and careful we are, there is still a chance that we could violate some law without knowing it.  The point system makes it so that unintentional violations do not cause a person to lose all hunting rights.  But, I think that all states should move toward what ND is doing.  Every state needs to have a provision for those who simply have no regard for game/fish laws.

You all know that I strive for keeping every game law.  These laws will make it possible to punish those who insist on violating the law.  These chronic violators reflect badly on the rest of us, since they gain far more press than the honest, lawful hunters.  Being able to inflict greater consequences on these offenders will make it possible to show that we will not tolerate intentional violations!

One More Post in the Safety Zone Saga…

Wednesday, January 21st, 2009

I was very encouraged by the reply that I got from Mr. Fox of the Howard County Council.  It showed that there are at least some of the council members who are very concerned about the rights of hunters, and they are trying to make sure that those rights are protected.  After sleeping on the response, I decided to write to Mr. Fox one more time today, and share with him some of my thoughts on his amended propositions.  He did send me one more email asking for my input, as well as any input I might generate through this blog.  If you want to add something, and haven’t written to the council individually, feel free to post it here and I will pass it along.

Here is the text of the letter that I sent to Mr. Fox today:

After considering the email you sent, I thought I would send you a few of my thoughts.  It appears that the changes that you have suggested in the email are reasonable, and that they will certainly help to ensure safety, without taking away from the rights of hunters.  My main observation is this:  it appears that the implementation of the bill as stated in your email would not make any real change to the laws.  Basically, a hunter would not be in violation of the law unless he actually shot into a structure (which is already currently illegal).  If a bullet were to be shot in the general direction of a structure, and yet strike a tree or hill before reaching it, it obviously had an “adequate backdrop”.  It seems to me to be a bit useless to make laws to make something that is already safe and legal to be legal.  At best, it is a bit redundant.  On the other hand, it is also currently illegal to shoot into a structure, or to violate the 150 yard safety zone.  So, again it would be redundant to make another law that makes such actions illegal.

It does sound as if there is some room for improvement based on the implementation of a fine.  I assume this means that you would be codifying the exact punishment for violations to the law that makes it illegal to shoot into a structure or dwelling.  I, for one, am all for harsh punishments for those who would be so careless as to discharge a firearm into a structure or dwelling.  I would support harsh penalties for anyone found guilty of this, and believe a codified punishment would certainly act as a deterrent, and hopefully make people more conscientious of their actions—especially when they pull the trigger.

I will say that if some new law is to be passed, your amended version is by far better than the original bill.  It seems to be much more “hunter friendly” than its original counterpart.  It is my tendency to think that new laws are not needed where there are laws on the books that will accomplish the same end result if they are enforced.

Thank you for your interest in this issue.  I hope that everything goes well in the council meeting tonight, and that all parties are able to come to an agreement concerning this issue.  If it is possible, I would be interested to know how this shakes out.  Thanks again for your time, and willingness to correspond with me, even though I am an “out of stater”.

Sincerely,

Kris Brewer

I am very thankful that Mr. Fox has been willing to correspond with me on this subject, and I look forward to seeing how all of this plays out.  I am hopeful that all will work out well for our hunting friends in the state of Maryland.

On a different note, I thought I would share with you the birthday present my wife gave to me today.  She had the kids’ picture taken decked out in their camo:


Hunters in Waiting

Hunters in Waiting



Aren’t they something?!

The Howard County Safety Zone Issue…

Tuesday, January 20th, 2009

I don’t usually post twice in one day, but I just received a response from Mr. Greg Fox of the Howard County Council.  This is the second response I received, but this one is quite substantial and seems to be well thought out.  It appears that the change in language in the bill is much better now than it was previously.  Here is Mr. Fox’s response:

That is fine that you are not one of my constituents.  I can sure you the max range issue will be addressed.  Please read my updated standard reply:

Thank you for contacting me regarding your concerns on CB1-2009.  I can assure you that I have been reviewing both your comments as well as those of other hunters.  I take your concerns very seriously.

At this point, I have spoken to a number of hunters one-on-one as well as discussions with DNR and others.  In addition, I have had two meetings with groups of hunters along with Councilwoman Sigaty.  Working together with other councilmembers, I/we plan on introducing amendments that should alleviate many of the concerns of hunters and others regarding the potential impact of the bill on hunting and deer management efforts while trying to address the fears of other parts of the community.  I believe that there will be support for the amendments from both councilmembers and the executive’s office.

I would also like to provide some additional background on the situation that might help alleviate some concerns as well as provide some foundation for additional discussions.  First, as someone who has been broadsided by a deer while driving in my neighborhood and whose wife suffered for 3 years with Lyme disease, I know first hand the effects of the deer over population.  Second, I don’t believe that it was the intent of the County Executive to effectively ban hunting when the legislation was drafted as I believe he understands the problems with the deer over population. Again, his administration, as well as other councilmembers, has assured me that they are open to any and all amendments and alternatives.

While I was not involved in the actual drafting of the bill, I did provide some level of input in the process as I was concerned that it might be even farther reaching.  The administration did listen to some of my concerns and attempted to incorporated them into the bill such as making sure that the use of shot for bird hunting would not be impacted and the consideration of the use of a deer stand to mitigate some of the distance concerns.  From my initial conversations with hunters, it was believed that this might be a workable solution with some minor tweaks.  This is the key area that still needs discussion from all parties.  As of now, I will be proposing the following and believe that there is support in this direction:
That the current 150 yards remains in place and whenever a person discharges a gun, the person shall:
1)    Ensure that the projectile has a downward trajectory;
2)    Be in a stand or otherwise elevate above the target; OR
3)    Ensure that the projectile has an adequate backdrop (might need to fine tune the language); OR
4)    Use a shotgun that contains only shot.
We are hoping the focus of the hearing will revolve around this portion of the bill and any suggestions are welcome.

The issue of the 10 acres in the non-Metropolitan district was something that was added towards the end and something which I told the administration up front that I could not support.  In subsequent conversations with the administration and a number of other councilmembers, I can assure you that this provision will be removed if anything is passed. However, it should be noted that the 10 acres was not intended (nor worded) to be a 10 acre parcel and that the current law require 150 yard radius is in effect nearly 15 acres of land (not parcel).

Finally, the issue of the nebulous language about how far ammunition MIGHT travel was something that I was not aware of until after the bill was filed.  In hindsight, the administration has told me that it realizes that this would be tough to enforce.  Based on that and a number of the e-mails I have received from hunters’ suggesting that a fine would be appropriate in certain circumstances, I have proposed changing the language accordingly.  Basically, if you damage any facility or  as outlined in the current bill or personal property, including pets and livestock, you would be fined up to $1000, a Class A offense (the maximum allowed under Howard County Law). The language in the original bill discussing IF you could hit a structure would be removed. I believe the removal of the old language and insertion of a fine has near unanimous support.

You are welcome to come out and testify on Wednesday, January 21 at the Board of Education building at 7:30.  I hope we can count on your support for the AMENDED bill.  Again any thoughts on how we can provide improvements to the safety of the community without impacting the ability to hunt, especially deer, would be greatly appreciated.  Additionally, I would love to hear suggestions on how we could improve the management of our deer population whether through extended seasons, increasing the managed hunt or any other ideas that you might have.

If you are unavailable to attend and would still like to talk to me, feel free to e-mail me or to call me on my mobile phone at 410-446-5673.  If I do not answer, please leave your name, number and a good time to reach you.

Thank you for your consideration in this matter.

Still listening and respectfully yours,

Greg Fox

The council meeting is tomorrow, so I am hoping to be able to find how it goes, and whether this measure passes or not.  I’ll try to keep you posted!

It’s Official…We Have a New President…

Tuesday, January 20th, 2009

Well, the day has come that President Bush has transferred power to the new president, Barack Obama. In many ways, I have been dreading the coming of this day, because I realize just how many of our current freedoms are in jeopardy of fading away. I wrote an article sometime ago on Obama’s positions on Gun Rights, and it has received a lot of attention. Jump over there, and you can see some of the comments that have been made. It is certainly clear that those who are “anti-gun” have been emboldened by the election of one of their own.  Just the anticipation of a president that shares the anti-gun agenda has caused many state legislators to introduce legislation that would be detrimental to our freedoms as gun owning americans.  Consider the legislation, now pending in several states, that would make tracking numbers required on all ammunition.  The point of this is to make the manufacturing of all ammunition so expensive that most people will be unable to purchase it.  It would also make it illegal to even own ammunition (after a certain date) that is not stamped (or laser engraved) with the serial/tracking number.

I know that President Bush has made a lot of mistakes, but then every president does.  But, he has been (for the most part) a friend to sportsmen, outdoorsmen, and especially gun owners.  I have not worried a bit about this administration making it impossible, or nearly impossible for me to own guns and the ammunition that goes with it.  I do worry about what will come in the next four years.  We can hope that other things will be of such importance that the new administration will not be able to legitimately take the time to try to implement this type of legislation on the national level.  From this standpoint, I will definitely miss President Bush.  I know that many will disagree with missing him, but it is my belief that history will reflect on him far more favorably than his contemporaries do.

Do you think the new administration will affect sportmen in a positive or negative way?  Why?

Contact the Howard County Council

Friday, January 16th, 2009

Ok guys (and gals), Arthur asked for contact information for the Howard County Council.  If you want to contact the County Council for the purpose of speaking out against the new safety zone regulations, you can contact them either by regular mail, or by email.  You are running out of time to use regular mail, as the Council Meeting will be next Wednesday.

The mailing address is:

Howard County Council
George Howard Building
3430 Court House Drive
Ellicott City, MD 21043

To contact them by email:  councilmail@howardcountymd.gov

You can also contact the County Executive by CLICKING HERE.

I don’t know how much good it will do to contact these guys as we are not in their district, but it certainly cannot hurt.  If nothing else, it can get us some practice for when this does hit a bit closer to home.  If you are out there, and live in Maryland, especially in Howard County, make sure to contact the council, and let them know that you do not support this type of change!  I live in a state that is boardering Maryland, so I fear this is coming faster than we would like!

EDIT:  Here is the letter that I am sending to the County Executive concerning this issue.  I believe I will copy it to the council as well.

Dear Sir,
I realize that I am not one of your constituents, but I am still writing to you concerning the new Safety Zone Regulations that are under consideration in Howard County Maryland.  As a an avid (and safe) hunter/outdoorsman, I wanted to speak out on behalf of my fellow hunters in the state of Maryland.

The new Safety Zone Regulations under consideration are devised with good intentions I am sure.  However, some of the elements will ensure that hunting with any type of firearm will be made illegal.  As you are probably aware, some firearms have a maximum range of over 2 miles.  If it is true that “hunters also would be barred from firing a gun in the direction of any building if it is within the maximum range of the weapon being fired” then hunters could not hunt within two miles (or more) of a neighboring property.

I realize that I may not know all that is included in the bill that is under consideration.  I only know what I have been able to read in various news sources.  This bill, however, (at least as it has been reported) would take thousands of acres away from hunters to enjoy their sport, and it would infringe on the rights of property owners to use their land as they would like.

I hope that Maryland hunters will stand up for their rights, and that you will see many at the upcoming County Council Meeting.  Please consider the impact such a bill would have on the law abiding, and safety minded hunters that take to the woods every fall.  There are far more safe hunters than those who are careless.

Thanks for your consideration!

Kris Brewer
www.jakesoutdoors.com

The Challenge Continues: Suburban Hunting

Thursday, January 15th, 2009

No Hunting!When I started this thread a few days ago, I never thought it would lead me to where I am today.  I thought it was a challenge that would certainly affect some hunters, but it seems that the concept is steamrolling, especially in Maryland, and will be causing significant problems for hunters if it is not stopped.  I am speaking of the proposal to change the safety zone for hunting to the “maximum range of a legal firearm” as I reported in my last post.

It seems that more reasonable heads have not prevailed, and this is an issue that will be taken up in a County Council public hearing next week.  An article published on theviewnewspapers.com reports that the NRA is urging residents to fight against the proposal that will be taken up next week.  Essentially, the County Council has proposed that it be made illegal to shoot in the direction of a building that is within the maximum range of a weapon.  As I outlined before, this would essentially make it illegal to hunt in most areas of the county, as many firearms (shotguns and muzzleloaders in Maryland) have a maximum range of 2 miles or more.

The proposed bill would extend the current safty zone from 150 yards to 300 yards, and would make the stipulation that is stated above–no shooting toward a structure from a distance shorter than the maximum range of the weapon in use.

It appears that this bill has really got its legs under it.  It has vast support on the County Council.  According to the article linked above, the County Executive, Kenneth Ulman, is in favor of the measure and 4 of the 5 County Council members co-sponsored the bill.

This is, as the NRA has stated, a knee jerk reaction to an isolated incident in the county during hunting season.  A day care center had a window shattered by a hunter’s bullet.  Essentially, the County Council is now trying to make restrictions that will protect everyone against this unsafe condition.  The problem is, you can’t really legislate stupidity!  Think about it.  If this hunter was so unsafe as to shoot through a window of a day care center, how is changing the law going to help him?  Obviously, he was already violating some law, as he was cited for “negligent hunting.”

Much of this issue has been extended by anti-hunters jumping on board.  I have seen articles (can’t remember where at the moment) where some have complained simply because they heard guns being fired during season.  They argued that if they could hear the shots, the hunters were too close to their homes or properties.  As any outdoorsman knows, you can hear a gun shot from several miles away given the right conditions!  Will this be next?  No hunting within the maximum audible range of your weapon?  I know that sounds ridiculous, but when I wrote the first post in this thread, I thought “maximum range” laws were ridiculous!

So far, this issue is being fought out in one county of Maryland.  But, if it passes there, we can all be sure that it will be in our backyards next.  If this continues, there will be thousands upon thousands of acres that will be declared as being “unhuntable” due to being in a safety zone.  This could be the most powerful tool that anti-hunters have had in a generation.  If this measure is successful, you can bet that they will start using it nation wide.  It should be intersting to see just how far this gets, and how long it takes to get to our neck of the woods.

This is a continuing reminder that we must work hard to be safe, so that we don’t give opportunity to those that would take our hunting traditions away from us.

Suburban Hunting: Follow Up

Monday, January 12th, 2009

A few days ago, I wrote a post that had to do with suburban hunting.  I wrote about how such close hunting often brings non-hunters, and hunters into close quarters with one another.  One thing I didn’t really address was how anti-hunters could use this controversy to their advantage.  Well, I found a “letter to the editor” from an anti-hunter (the VP of Animal Action Inc.) who is trying to use this issue to put an end to all hunting.

This letter, published in the Baltimore Sun, calls for the “Safety Zone” to be expanded to the effective range of any fire arm.  Consider this quote:

We need to enact an effective, enforceable law that provides a single safety zone based on the maximum range of allowed weapons.

And the range required must be from the hunter to the edge of adjacent properties – not to a home or building.

If the buffer zone is measured to the home or building, as it is under current law, children playing in their own yard could be in great danger.

Frequent readers of this blog know that I am all for safety.  I am extremely cautious with a firearm, as are all the people that I hunt with.  In fact, if anyone were to mishandle a firearm in our group, they would never be invited to hunt with us again.   That being said, this plan proposed for a “single safety zone based on the maximum range of allowed weapons” is nothing more than a plan to put an end to all hunting.  Consider that the “maximum range” of a firearm can be in the ballpark of several miles!  Granted, the author is probably addressing a law that is present in the Baltimore area, and therefore is restricted to shotguns, but the maximum range could still be well over a half mile!

Also, notice that this author wants the law to be changed to be measured to “the edge of adjacent properties”, not buildings or structures.  Imagine the impact of something like that.  If your neighbor has 200 acres, you would not be permitted to hunt within the “maximum range of allowed weapons” from his property line.  That puts  you at least a half mile from the closest adjoining boundary to your hunting area.  I am sure that you can see how this would effectively put an end to “small plot” hunting all together.  The only places that would be open to hunting would be large tracts of land (several thousand acres, in one tract).  How many of us would be able to hunt at all if that were the case?

I know if I consider the property that we hunt, there wouldn’t be any of it that would fall into “huntable property” if this suggestion were to be enacted into law.  Hunting with high-power rifles means that we have a “maximum range” much longer than most people realize, or want to think about.  However, if we handle them responsibly, there is no danger to anyone in the homes that surround the property that we hunt.  Not to mention the fact that there is a mountain between almost all of our stands and the homes that are in the general area.  You see, that would make no difference to person who suggested this…because it is not really about safety at all.  But, then again, if you want to get something done for your “cause”, just do it “for the sake of the children”!

I don’t really see something like this coming to fruition.  However, it is not unheard of for legislators to step in and try to make laws concerning things they know nothing about.  I hope that it doesn’t sound like a good idea to some Senator, who tries to ramrod it through the Maryland state congress.  But, then again, there are those who have decided that making every bullet traceable is a good idea.  So, let’s hope those nuts are still outnumbered by the rational.

Ending the Year…

Tuesday, January 6th, 2009

I know that we are now 6 days into the new year, but I’m on vacation :). I ended the year with a quick hunt down here in Alabama. I went out early last Wednesday morning, only to be beat to death by the cold wind. After about 30 minutes, I decided I was going to head to the house. As I drove up my in-laws’ driveway, I spotted a deer in the woods off to the side. After parking, and walking down the driveway, I looked through the small wood patch into the field, and saw 3 deer standing in the field. Since they were making it so easy on me, I chose the biggest doe, and sent a 150 grain PSP through the lungs (that’s a pointed soft point, for all you who just found this post by searching for PSP stuff…). I was glad to be able to put one in my in-laws’ freezer, as they have discovered that they really enjoy venison. I always like to kill at least one deer down here, just for that reason.

There are a couple more days left to the Alabama doe season, so I may try to get out another day or two. I do like the season down here…it goes all the way to January 31st. In fact, the biggest buck I have killed in Alabama was killed on January 31st several years ago.