I love shooting.
There is nothing I love doing more with the kids than going out to the range and hearing the sounds of freedom ring out.
There are some great outdoor ranges in Idaho or an endless supply of BLM land that you can go shoot on.
Of course, those are all outdoor. We also have ranges like Independence Indoor Shooting, Impact Guns, and others that offer some indoor options.
Idaho is one of the most pro-gun friendly states in the country.
Generally speaking, most of the pro-gun bills that get pushed through the Idaho legislature are good policy.
However, there is one bill (HB 396) that gun owners should oppose, despite the headline that may tempt you to support it.
House Bill 396, which just passed the House on a vote of 54-14 (2 absent), will authorize Fish and Game to run, operate, relocate and maintain shooting ranges.
They are calling it the “Range Preservation” bill.
You would think the Democrats would have opposed the bill, being about guns and all.
However, every Democrat in the House voted FOR this bill. That should tell you something about it.
Only 14 Republicans stood up and said no to this expansion of government power.
Here is a list of legislators who rightly opposed the bill: Andrus, Armstrong, Barbieri, Christensen, Giddings, Holtzclaw, Marshall, Moon, Nichols, Scott, Wisniewski, Young, Zito, and Zollinger.
Not only should they be commended for doing the right thing, but they did so in the face of the NRA which came out in favor of the bill.
If Idaho needs to preserve ranges from government attack or attacks from environmentalists, then pass legislation that protects infringements on those ranges.
But don’t expand government power and authorize them to spend money on their operation and maintenance.
Conservatives claim we need to cut government spending.
Sadly, citizens only want to cut government spending as long as they don’t cut spending on things we like.
If we are going to remain consistent in the philosophy of the government not spending money on things that do not fit their role, we must oppose this bill.
Taxpayers will pay more money for Fish and Game to maintain and operate shooting ranges. The bill authorizes F&G to use current funds but my projection is that the following year they would seek a budget increase for their efforts on the shooting ranges.
Additionally, because the bill authorizes F&G to operate the ranges, how long before the ranges are inundated with fees and regulations? Will hunting fees go up to cover future costs?
There is nothing in the bill that is anti-gun, but the bill has some potential unforeseen problems, That, in addition to this not being the proper role of government.
Finally, there is some concern from gun owners in how this will impact ranges already in existence.
Will the government-funded ranges undercut and put private ranges out of business?
The government should not be in competition with private businesses and this could potentially do that.
F&G is authorized to “operate” the ranges they desire. If they charge 20% less than a private range, the private range will suffer.
I want to thank the legislators who stood up and did the right thing by voting against this bill. They are going to be attacked by their opponents at election time for the vote.
Perhaps the citizens will see the good in what they did.
Hopefully, the Senate will reconsider the merits of the bill before bringing it through their committee.
Note: The Idaho Freedom Foundation has rated the bill a “-2” because it expands the power of government.
Note 2: For more information on what the P-R Funding is that will be used for the ranges, read the GOA’s article on the hidden gun tax you pay here:
GOA SPECIAL REPORT: Your right to self-defense is taxed, and you probably don’t even realize it