Trigger Trash

Shooting Is Okay, But The Cleanup Needs Work

The people who left this mess in the forest are known as slob shooters,
and they give all gun owners a bad name and image. Clean up your mess.

Want to know a sure-fire way to alienate yourself and every other gun owner?

Drive out to state or federal forestland, take along a bunch of junk, shoot it to pieces, and then drive off and leave your mess. Pretty soon, other slobs will follow suit and pretty soon, you’ve got an eyesore, which becomes a wall poster reason for some local ranger, possibly goaded by a local environmental group whose members don’t care for the sound of gunfire in “their” forest, to shut down recreational shooting in the area.

On a recent hunting trek to a spot up near Washington’s Snoqualmie Pass, south of Interstate 90, I found such a garbage pile. It’s a problem not confined to the Evergreen State, either.

Back on Jan. 4, Idaho conservation officer Brian Flatter penned an article about messy target shooters using desert land south of Boise to try out their new firearms. In Idaho, guns under Christmas trees are fairly common.

“I can tell you from experience,” he wrote, “that target shooters during all times of the year can get themselves into trouble quickly if they don’t remember to clean up after themselves. For some reason, the months of December through March are especially bad for litter bugs.”

Flatter continued, “People interested in shooting in ‘dispersed shooting areas’ commonly use empty boxes, old household appliances, furniture, TV’s, cans of spray paint, glass bottles, wood pallets, propane tanks, fire extinguishers, and essentially anything that will fit in their vehicle as targets. Unfortunately, many shooters who chose these types of targets will leave their junk behind when they leave for home.”

When I stopped at the site mentioned above, I found broken glass bottles, some kind of appliance, at least one perforated propane tank — apparently the boobs who brought that thing to shoot at didn’t realize they might cause an explosion; not very bright in a dry forest — a lot of plywood used for target backing, and enough aluminum cans, plastic bottles and clay targets to create a nasty junk pile. I didn’t try to clean it up because a guy was there with his daughter, and they were shooting.

New Mexico, Same Old Problem

Back in January 2018, the Las Cruces, NM Sun News reported a similar problem in Doña Ana County, and a group called the Doña Ana County Illegal Dumping Partnership had to issue a warning about shooters leaving piles of trash.

Vicki Lusk, manager of the county animal control & codes office, reminded people at the time the practice of leaving trash is “considered illegal dumping.” She urged recreational shooters to clean up their mess after the shooting was finished. Some did, apparently others didn’t.

The biggest problem was broken glass bottles. Glass shards can slice open bare fingers and hands, or feet, or tires on vehicles, and if someone gets cut by broken glass, they can be pretty sure it’s covered with crud, so infection is a serious danger.

Dave found this pile of trash in an area he used to hunt regularly. This is just the tip of an iceberg, as careless shooters leaving their trigger trash all over the landscape are a problem.

Tarnishing a Gem

Back in Idaho this past May, KLIX Radio, a news-talk station in Twin Falls, reported a site in Jerome County, which had become “an unauthorized garbage dump” near a place where local residents had created a park.

“It is also one of the few places in the Magic Valley where people could go target shooting free of charge,” the station reported. “Then people started dumping their garbage. Three years ago, there was even an old hot tub discarded in the park. The garbage was and is then often used as a target. Not always by the people who dumped the old appliances in the first place. Bullets shatter some of the refuse and make cleanup even more difficult.”

Idaho’s nickname is “The Gem State,” and turning its outlands into trash dumps is the quickest way to tarnish the image. In May, the station reported how Jerome and Twin Falls counties were considering options for shooting ranges: “Places that would be monitored and with a premium on safety.”

Jerome County banned shooting in the park.

Fines Assessed

In 2016, the Washington Department of Natural Resources began cracking down on an “informal shooting range” near the community of Suncrest, located on the north bank of the Spokane River a few miles downstream from the city of Spokane.

A news clip from the July 3 edition of Spokane Spokesman Review noted two fires were started by shooters that summer, and the year before, there were four fires.

The story also mentioned “fireworks, exploding targets and tracer ammunition” were illegal on state DNR land, and people cited for violations “could be fined.”

In neighboring Idaho, the courts in Ada County are already taking care of that. According to conservation officer Flatter, “Between February of 2020 and December of 2021, I wrote about 170 citations to target shooters in the desert south of Boise, of which, most were littering tickets. For those of you wondering, Ada County has collected over $33,000 in fines from the shooters I have cited in the area.”

Solution is Simple

Some casual groups of shooters who may only associate at a gravel pit or some other spot in the woods have provided at least one solution to the problem.

Once every few months, it’s not uncommon to find groups gathering at their favorite shooting spot to clean things up. Three or four pickup trucks, garden rakes, garbage bags, and thick gloves are a must but they seem to be making a dent in the debris.

I know of a couple of such groups out in Washington that announce such clean-up efforts on their social media pages. If enough people show up to participate, they can actually get quite a bit accomplished in a single morning or afternoon. Shooters like this aren’t the problem and never have been. They just might be the solution.

Another possibility is for someone to place a trail camera in a spot where it might pick up images of the slobs. It is especially productive to get a license place so authorities might be able to track down offenders. Sometimes, we have to “police ourselves” so shooting opportunities don’t disappear.

These efforts essentially follow the pattern established by many local shooting ranges, all over the country (but especially in the West). One weekend morning every few weeks, especially during the summer months, many gun clubs shut down shooting and hold work parties. People show up with shovels, rakes, weed eaters and even chainsaws to keep their facilities in safe working order.

The moral of the story is to pick up your mess. After all, isn’t that what mom repeatedly told you?

And don’t worry. Some slob will come along and make another mess for you and other responsible gun folks to clean up.

White House FOIA Request

Last month, the Second Amendment Foundation’s “Investigative Journalism Project” probably raised some eyebrows when they sent a Freedom of Information Act request to Joe Biden’s White House.

SAF is the gun rights organization responsible for a huge number of federal lawsuits challenging state and local gun laws on constitutional grounds. The group’s victories include the landmark 2010 Supreme Court decision in McDonald v. City of Chicago. SAF launched the journalism project with veteran writer Lee Williams at the helm, and here’s what he wants:

“Copies of documents — digital and print — that show interactions between White House staff and members of gun control and gun safety groups,” the request states

“For the purpose of this FOIA request,” Williams wrote, “gun control and gun safety groups include but are not limited to the following: Everytown for Gun Safety, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, The Trace, Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, Third Way, Newtown Action Alliance, Gun Control Giving Fund, Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, Violence Policy Center, Gun Violence Archive, Sandy Hook Promise, March for Our Lives, Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Violence Solutions, Alliance for Gun Responsibility and Guns Down America.”

Since it is a safe bet the Biden White House has not reached out to SAF, the National Rifle Association, Gun Owners of America or the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, it will be interesting to see what the gun prohibition lobby and Biden administration have been talking about.

Don’t be like the 5,900 people who were stopped at airport security checkpoints
last year for having guns—often loaded—in their carry-on bags. Clear purses, briefcases,
backpacks, duffel bags, or whatever else you’re carrying before going to the airport.

The Transportation Security Administration had some bad news about the first six months of this year, and it says something about how careless some travelers are with their firearms.

According to the TSA, officers “prevented more than 3,000 firearms from entering planes, an average of 17 a day. That’s more than half the total number of firearms seized in all of 2021.”

There’s only one way to say “oops” when you’re stopped at a passenger-screening gate with a gat in your carry-on bag. It rhymes with “spit” and people who do this sort of thing can wind up in big, expensive trouble.

The numbers say it all: Last year, TSA intercepted 5,972 firearms at airport security checkpoints, according to USA Facts. The problem has been getting incrementally worse for the past couple of years. The 2021 figure was 83% higher than the number of guns found in 2020.

“And while air travel passenger numbers haven’t reached pre-pandemic levels,” the report detailed, “the number of firearms caught in 2021 exceeded 2019 figures by 35%.”

Where are the worst offenders? According to a list provided by TSA and USA Facts, Georgia’s Atlanta International Airport saw the highest number of screw-ups last year at 507, followed by the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport with 317 gun seizures. Third in line was George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston (Texans like their guns!), and down the list are Sky Harbor International in Phoenix (196), Nashville International (163), Denver International (141), Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International (128), Orlando International (124), Louis Armstrong New Orleans International (119) and Salt Lake City International (115).

I’ve flown in and out of a few of those places, typically with an unloaded sidearm locked in my checked luggage. It’s not that difficult to stow your gun prior to arriving at the airport. Notify the ticket agent you’ve got a firearm, you’ll be directed to or led to a TSA checkpoint where they inspect your gun to make sure it’s secure and unloaded, and then you’ll be on your way.

This report leaves me shaking my head, however. It’s mystifying how someone could forget he or she has a gun in his or her carry-on. Always make sure before you head to the airport. Always.

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