Here is what’s going on.
There has been a lot of interest in what San Diego County has tried (and failed) to do regarding shooting on public lands managed by the Department of the Interior/Bureau of Land Management (BLM). So I am giving you a short recap and status.
The County Board of Supervisors passed a regulation that banned target practice shooting in two of the very few areas left where people can shoot on BLM land: Pink Gate and Donohoe Flats.
Before the votes, many groups got involved. SD Must/Mike Johnson, South Bay Rod and Gun, CRPA/NRA, San Diego County Wildlife Federation, NRA Members Council, and individuals from across the County. There was a ton of great activity and interest. Even people who didn’t shoot in those areas found it ridiculous that Supervisor Jacob would make the ludicrous claims she made about bullets whizzing past her head and the pretend fire hazards of legal, responsible gun use. It was even more ridiculous for her to suggest that the County could dictate what can and cannot happen on federally managed land.
A lot was done to try to influence the County Supervisors to vote the right way and educate them on the legal ramifications of passing their regulation. SDCGO was left to be creative on what activity we could bring to the table to help without duplicating efforts. We contacted Supervisor Gaspar’s office and made sure her vote was with us. Supervisor Gaspar did vote with us and did a great job of making the point that if the BLM wanted shooting banned on their land, they should be the ones to do it.
Her logic fell on deaf ears with Supervisors Roberts, Cox, and Jacob.
SDCGO went into the media to educate the public on the ridiculous proposal. You may have heard us on Carl DeMaio’s show talking about it.
But we wanted to figure out what would be the most effective thing to do to stop this ban from taking hold.
SDCGO has a member who was in the Navy for decades and happened to work closely with another Navy veteran: Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. After we briefed our member on exactly what was going on, he called Sec. Zinke on his cell phone and had a great talk with him about the situation. The Secretary asked his senior adviser Rick May to work with SDCGO to make sure the regulation was rejected by the Interior Department and to work on opening more BLM land for recreational shooting.
At the time we contacted the Department of the Interior, leaders in the Department of the Interior and BLM had no idea any of this was going on. Nobody had brought this to their attention even though they are truly the decision makers; not San Diego County.
This contradicts the claims by Supervisor Jacob that BLM was on board with the shooting ban. Supervisor Jacob lied.
The thing about this situation is, if the BLM (which is under the Department of the Interior) decided to ban shooting, they could do it. No lawsuit would be successful in turning that around. If the regulation passed by the County Board of Supervisors convinced the Interior Department that shooting should be banned, then shooting would have been banned.
But nobody…including the County Board…contacted BLM leadership or Interior Department leadership except SDCGO and we were happy to make the case in favor of gun owners.
The day before the County regulation was to take effect, the Interior Department’s legal team contacted San Diego County officially and let them know that San Diego County’s shooting ban is unenforceable because the Interior Department does not agree with the regulation. Period. As a result, we all can still enjoy shooting at the Pink Gate and Donohoe Flats areas.
Since this happened, Secretary Zinke has resigned, but their policy has not. It looks like the Trump administration is adamant with its support of managing federally controlled lands so people can continue to use them rather than banning. It would appear that this is their philosophy as long as Trump is president.
We will continue to send out information and updates as we receive them. Thank you to everybody who pitched in, showed up, and helped with this victory!
Together, We Will (continue to) Win!
Michael A. Schwartz