By Don Mallicoat- The election is over. Both candidates had widely different platforms and beliefs about guns and hunting. Our future president, Donald Trump, supports the Second Amendment and although he does not hunt both of his sons do. Based on that, and a Republican controlled Congress, there are some things we can expect to see regarding gun and hunting legislation in the future. We are already seeing news reports about potential legislative action in his first 100 days in office. Let’s look at a few that may impact the future of guns and hunting.
When Justice Scalia died unexpectedly this year progressives were chomping at the bit to get a liberal judge appointed to shift the Supreme Court to the left. First, we can expect President Trump to appoint a staunchly conservative judge to the Supreme Court who will strictly interpret the Second Amendment. Several of the other Justices are get old so any future appointments during his Presidency should confirm our right to keep and bear arms for the next couple of decades. That was a big issue for many voters and probably was a factor helping in his election.
On a smaller level, there are previous initiatives in Congress that should be easily passed by a Republican Congress; initiatives that never made it out of committee in the past. The first is a National Reciprocity Act that would require all states with Concealed Carry Permits to recognize those from other states. Currently reciprocity is determined between individual states. This Bill has been before Congress for at least 2 – 3 years without movement. This is a no brainer and should be brought up again and pass both houses with no problem.
The next is what is referred to as the Hearing Protection Act. The name belies the intent. This was brought up in the House of Representatives last year to remove suppressors from the National Firearms Act (NFA) requiring approval by BATF and simply make them serial numbered items that would have the same purchase process as firearms with a background check required. Suppressors were put on the NFA in 1938 because of their potential criminal use. Now there are 42 states that allow suppressors for hunting and in some areas near suburbs almost required. They are not used by criminals but hunters and shooters throughout the country. This one will receive some push back, probably in the Senate, by the typical characters that oppose anything friendly to shooters. Despite that opposition this too should pass and become law under President Trump.
The next thing is not on Trump’s 100 day agenda, but based on the recent wildfires in our area, should be a priority for the next Congressional session. Someone needs to introduce legislation to reform the U.S. Forest Service management rules to take environmental groups out of the equation. Trump has made broad statements about repealing cumbersome environmental regulations, but nothing specifically about the USFS. Environmentalists have driven the agenda in Congress for a couple of decades which has led to regulatory system that minimally makes forestry management difficult if not impossible.
We can look at the wildfires currently burning nearly 15,000 acres in the Nantahala National Forest. Yes, hot weather and a severe drought have led to the tinder box conditions that allow the fires to start. But restrictive forest management rules implemented in response to environmentalist legal action have been a factor in the spread of those fires. Not doing prescribed burns to reduce leaf and deadfall litter, not thinning forest stands, and removing overgrowth of rhododendron have set up conditions that allow fire to spread. Congress should move immediately to reform U.S. Forest Service planning and management rules to dump regulatory requirements that restrict and prohibit scientific forest management.
Speaking of the wildfires, authorities believe these fires are the result of arson. If you have been hunting in the Nantahala National Forest recently and noted any suspicious activity please report it. In the meantime let’s keep the firefighters from around the country in our prayers for safety. A little prayer for rain wouldn’t hurt either.