Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) — who is “F” rated by Gun Owners of America — is pushing a “hunting” bill that authorizes the Obama administration almost unlimited power to seize private lands for “environmental” purposes.
Anti-gun Majority Leader Harry Reid has scheduled Tester’s bill for a vote, and it will probably take place on Thursday.
ACTION: It is imperative that gun owners contact their Senators and ask them to OPPOSE S. 3525. Click here to tell them that the modest conservation gains allowed in the bill are totally offset by giving unelected bureaucrats the authority to steal land from hunters and private property owners.
(1) When the “wetlands” provisions of the Clean Water Act were originally enacted, no one could have foreseen that a landowner would go to prison for applying clean dirt to a junkyard adjacent to a sewer, which was determined to be “wetlands.” But environmentalists have been brilliant in taking seemingly innocuous programs and massively expanding them through fraudulent interpretations or tiny loopholes.
(2) S. 3525 has “sweeteners.” It allows archery bows to be transported through national parks under very limited circumstances, although Obama could do this by administrative fiat. It also allows, but does not mandate, Pittman-Robertson funds to be used for target ranges. But none of these small discretionary provisions offset the potential damage this does to the rights of individual landowners.
(3) THE ISSUE OF LOST OPPORTUNITY: If this is the Democrats’ sop to gun owners, it may make it a lot more difficult to secure national concealed carry reciprocity or to stop anti-gun measures and treaties.
THE CENTRAL PROBLEM WITH S. 3525
The central problem with the bill is that it allows seizure of private lands for “aquatic habitats” [Sections 201(8) and 204 (d) (2)]. The definition of this term is limitless and includes seizure of lands in order to “protec[t] the quality and quantity of water sources” and to “serv[e] as a buffer protecting the aquatic environment.” [Section 201 (2)]
Thus, a factory that “pollutes” can be seized to protect an “aquatic habitat.” The only real limit on seizure in Section 204 is the requirement that the government manage the seized property “in accordance with the purposes of this subtitle.”
WHO ARE THE DECISION MAKERS?
The National Fish Habitat Board consists of 27 members. The initial members (Obama appointees) select the remaining members. Thus while the “commercial fishing industry” supposedly has a representative, you can bet that that fisherman is an Obama-supporter and will support his agenda.
The board then enters into “partnerships” with, inter alia, outside groups. And you can bet that every liberal environmental organization in the country will now be feeding at this pig sty. The outside groups recommend fish habitat programs and plans for seizing private lands.
Bottom line: This will give immense powers to unelected bureaucrats — a clear violation of the Separation of Powers which our Founders implemented as a way of protecting our rights.
WHAT ABOUT SECTION 211 (e) (2)?
This supposedly requires the consent of landowners prior to having their lands seized. But, note the sneaky loophole: Section 211 (e) (2) applies only to property that is being seized with federal funds and, under Section 204 (e), half the funds need to come from non-federal sources.
So while this section is put forward as a “protection,” it actually doesn’t provide total immunity because the government can take a land owner’s property using non-federal funds — and there is no protection in the bill against that.
Better late than never I guess.