Lawmaker Decides Against Selling Public Land; Others Push Semi-Auto Rifles, Crossbows

In this week’s briefing, a Utah congressman has change of heart while Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Maine look to expand hunting.
Lawmaker Decides Against Selling Public Land; Others Push Semi-Auto Rifles, Crossbows

Shooting and hunting legislation makes news in Pennsylvania and Connecticut, while the biggest story comes from Utah. There, a Republican lawmaker is rescinding his bill to sell millions of acres of federally owned land.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) announced via Instagram late Wednesday night that he’s pulling H.R. 621 after facing backlash from conservation and sportsmen’s groups.

Courtesy of Instagram - Jason C

Courtesy of Instagram - Jason Chaffetz

“I’m a proud gun owner, hunter and love our public lands,” Chaffetz posted, along with a photo of himself wearing camouflage and holding a dog. “The bill would have disposed of small parcels of lands Pres. Clinton identified as serving no public purpose but groups I support and care about fear it sends the wrong message.”

Chaffetz’ ended his announcement with this resolute promise: “HR 621 dies tomorrow.” The legislation called for 3.3 million acres of land that reach across 10 western states and are owned by the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management to be sold. The Disposal of Excess Federal Lands Act was introduced Jan. 24.

At the time of introduction, Chaffetz said, “The long overdue disposal of excess federal lands will free up resources for the federal government while providing much-needed opportunities for economic development in struggling rural communities.”

Check out more details on the removal of the legislation here.

Pennsylvania: Semi-Automatics For Big Game; Air Rifles For Small Game

Earlier this week, the Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners gave unanimous, preliminary approval to regulatory changes permitting the use of semi-automatic rifles and shotguns while hunting big game, small game and furbearers. Should the bill pass, a five-round magazine would be required for all semi-automatic hunting rifles, with the total ammunition capacity limited to six rounds. The measure also approves the use of air rifles for small-game and furbearers.

Lawmakers will caset a final vote on the measure in late March. For more information, check out the rest of the story here.

Also in Pennsylvania, Sen. Mario M. Scavello (R-Tannersville) introduced a bill that would allow leashed dogs to track downed big game, improving a hunter’s success of locating game animals. Currently, SB 135 is in the Senate Game and Fisheries Committee. For more information, go here.

Illinois: Crossbow Draw Weight

Illinois’s House Bill 427 would allow crossbows to have a minimum peak draw weight of 125 pounds and a maximum draw weight of at least 300 pounds. Click here for more information.

Hawaii: New Legislation Could Impact Hunting Private Land

Hawaii Senate Bill 870, sponsored by Sen. Ronald D. Kouchi (D- Kaua‘i), would require hunters to obtain written permission first from landowners, prior to hunting private property. Currently, the law requires a hunter to be granted permission, but under this bill sportsmen must have physical proof. Senate Bill 870 is in the Water and Land Committee. Click here for more information.

Maine: Training Dogs On Bears

Rep. Robert Alley (D-Beals) introduced Maine’s House Paper 211, which would allow hunting dogs to train on bears in portions of Washington County and Hancock County. HP 211 is awaiting a committee assignment. For more information, click here.


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