House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., announced yesterday that the Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) Act is not going to come up for consideration on the House floor anytime soon.
That’s a relief.
But let’s be clear: this disgraceful bill should never be revived or resuscitated. It’s an appalling package of reckless items on gun and wildlife policy that should offend every American, from ardent animal advocates to avid sportsmen.
As I wrote in a column published today on CNN.com, the SHARE Act has nothing to do with sportsmen’s heritage or enhancement of recreation. It is a wish list for the gun and ammunition industry and for the trophy hunting lobby. Let’s face it, they are already getting most of what they want out from Washington, D.C., so they had to be creative to pull together such a lengthy list of additional policy grabs. What they came up with is diabolical.
Here are a few items in the SHARE Act:
- Eliminating some restrictions on private citizens obtaining silencers, which are a tool for poachers and other criminals.
- Reducing some restrictions on the use of armor-piercing bullets.
- Carving out a loophole in the Endangered Species Act and Marine Mammal Protection Act to allow 41 polar bear hunters to bring their kills into the United States to mount as “trophies.”
- Allowing shooters into Grand Canyon National Park to shoot grazing bison– a practice with a degree of difficulty that matches shooting a parked car.
- Expanding the definition of “hunting” for federal wilderness areas to include trapping, so steel jaw leghold traps and neck snares can be used on these protected lands.
- Denying the Interior and Agriculture departments and the Environmental Protection Agency the authority to restrict the use of lead ammunition and fishing tackle, despite the fact that science shows spent lead fragments and lost lead fishing gear poison people and kill thousands of animals, including endangered species.
- Removing protections for wolves in the Great Lakes region, subverting unanimous court rulings declaring that the ongoing administrative actions to achieve delisting have been illegal.
- Nullifying a federal rulemaking that restricts ruthless killing of wildlife, including grizzly bears, caribou, and wolves, on National Park Service lands in Alaska. Earlier this year, Congress nixed a separate rule that protected these animals on national wildlife refuges. Now they want to do away with the protection on national preserves.
- Relaxing restrictions on baiting waterfowl, so that hunters can more readily hunt over baited fields.
The only “share” involved in the SHARE bill would be that of fat-cat elites seizing an even bigger share of privilege. Congressional architects of this legislation have hacked the identity of American sportsmen and sportswomen to push the narrowest of interests. And sportsmen and sportswomen might want to think twice about remaining silent and giving cover to the radical and scary ideas at stake here.
The lengthy bill is fat with other inexplicable giveaways, take backs, and lunacies that defy common sense. And it won’t be sportsmen alone who end up suffering from this. Cop-killer bullets on the streets, silencers that will mainly help criminals, a war on wolves, trapping as hunting, lead in our fields and food — it’s almost unfathomable in the aggregate.
If you’re grieving about the mass murder in Las Vegas, as tens of millions of Americans are, channel your energy and help permanently halt a series of policy ideas that would do nothing but contribute to the quotient of violence and recklessness in our society. The backers of this bundle of terrible ideas in the SHARE Act have confused the notions of freedom and license. As the smoke clears from Las Vegas, we should all see that distinction more sharply.