Civil Liberties, Lawful Transportation of Firearms, and Accessing Public Lands
Last week, I successfully added an amendment to the Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) Act (H.R. 2406), legislation introduced by Congressman Rob Wittman (R-VA-01) which protects Second Amendment rights and guarantees Americans ample access to federal lands in order to hunt, fish, and recreationally shoot.
My amendment defends civil liberties and strengthens federal protections for law-abiding Americans – hunters or otherwise – who are traveling with firearms. This amendment, which was supported by the National Rifle Association, was based on a bill I have introduced since 2012 entitled the Protecting Lawful Transportation of Firearms Act (H.R. 131).
The Firearm Owners’ Protection Act of 1986 includes protections for individuals transporting firearms from places where they are legally allowed to have them. However, while most states comply, others continue to harass and detain travelers who are abiding by federal law. Further, because of numerous improper prosecutions, a cottage industry of lawyers handling the defense of these cases has developed around New York City airports.
As an example, Lt. Augustine Kim was arrested in 2010 in Washington, D.C. for possession of a firearm when he was in transit between New Jersey and South Carolina. Kim, who had been injured during a tour of duty in Afghanistan, had stopped at Walter Reed for a doctor’s appointment and was later pulled over in D.C. Despite having followed federal law, his guns locked in a case in the trunk, Kim spent a night in jail and had his guns confiscated. After months of litigation, Kim agreed to plead guilty to one misdemeanor unregistered gun charge, which was later dismissed. Nonetheless, Kim’s guns were not returned to him by D.C. authorities until nearly two years after he was arrested.
Additional examples can be found on my website, www.morgangriffith.house.gov.
My amendment puts an end to these practices, and makes clear that the rights of American citizens can no longer be ignored.
Another important amendment added to the SHARE Act was advanced by Congressman Dan Newhouse (R-WA-04), and requires the U.S. Forest Service to publish a notice in the Federal Register, along with a justification, for the closure of any public road on Forest System lands. My team and I have heard from constituents about the Forest Service having closed private roads without prior notification, and I am glad to support this amendment. As Congressman Newhouse said in a statement following passage of the SHARE Act, “These lands belong to the people, and taxpayers should have the opportunity to enjoy the land their tax dollars support.”
I am pleased that the SHARE Act includes these important amendments. Rest assured I will continue working to defend civil liberties, protect the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding gun owners, hunters, and sportsmen, and preserve access to our great nation’s public lands.
According to Reuters, “The U.S. oil and natural gas industry emits more methane than previously thought, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy said on Wednesday [February 24] as she defended efforts to curb its output.”
Additionally, “The regulator last year said it would try to reduce emissions of methane, which is far more damaging to the environment than carbon dioxide, by requiring new oil and gas processing and transmission facilities to find and repair methane leaks and for producers to capture or limit methane from shale wells.”
In her remarks, McCarthy acknowledged that “methane is upwards of 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide.”
However, partly resulting from this Administration’s overly aggressive policies on coal, energy companies are compelled to quickly develop additional natural gas infrastructure including pipelines and storage facilities.
I support the balanced use of all energy sources including natural gas, oil, and coal to lower energy costs, grow our economy, and create jobs.
Nonetheless I can’t help but think this is another example of the EPA’s ongoing war on coal possibly damaging the environment. We may have been better off continuing to rely on coal.
Or is this more EPA doublespeak that is in reality them signaling the long-anticipated beginning of their war on natural gas, another carbon-based American energy source?
If you have questions, concerns, or comments, feel free to contact my office. You can call my Abingdon office at 276-525-1405 or my Christiansburg office at 540-381-5671. To reach my office via email, please visit my website at www.morgangriffith.house.gov. Also on my website is the latest material from my office, including information on votes recently taken on the floor of the House of Representatives.