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Old 02-27-2004, 01:20 PM   #1
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Florida - Range Protection Lead Bill

Gainesville Sun

February 27. 2004 6:01AM
TALKING BACK
Real facts on gun bill

This is in response to Ron Cunningham's column (Feb. 22) titled "All the wrong places."

It clearly is evident that liberals like Cunningham and others will ridicule any supporter of the 2nd Amendment, including our honorable Democrat Sen. Rod Smith.

The following is to let others know the real facts about why the NRA, along with Sen. Smith, is helping to pass the Range Protection Lead Bill.

Some have claimed "children fish in a lake" owned by the water management district in Pinellas County that is suing a local gun club allegedly because of lead pollution. That is patently false.

No one, neither children nor adults, has ever been allowed to fish in that lake. The simple fact is, it is not a lake. The water management district named it "Sawgrass Lake" for politically deceptive purposes.

"Sawgrass Lake" has never been a pristine body of water. It was never intended to be used for fishing, swimming, or any other type of recreational use. It has never contained potable water nor was it intended to. It is not a natural body of water.

"Sawgrass Lake" is actually a giant man-made retention pond for contaminated water coming off nearby highways. It is nothing more than a filthy drainage pond that has been given a fancy name.

It was designed as a holding pond for water contaminated with lead from tire weights, battery acid, gasoline, oil, transmission fluid and all manner of hazardous waste deposited on the highway by vehicles.

Signs, warning against trespassing, are posted all around the drainage pond, like signs that must be posted around all drainage ponds around the state.

So why do they need to remove the lead pellets from that water?

This club has been under attack by DEP and the South West Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD) for almost 30 years. It started in 1975 when the district, under eminent domain, took 20 acres from the club so it could shut down the range. That 20 acres was part of the drop zone for projectiles.

But the judge in the eminent domain case refused to allow the district to close the range and gave Skyway an easement to continue using the land as their drop zone.

Discovery documents show that in 1991, when the club was 50 years old, the district asked the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to investigate to determine if the lead shot on the property is a problem. Those two federal agencies subsequently advised that the "lead should not be a concern."

Then in 1999, despite what the feds told them, the district filed the lawsuit so they could take the rest of the property from the club.

You do a disservice to your readers when you allow your own political bias to get in the way of seeking out and reporting facts.

Sen. Smith, in assisting the NRA with SB-1156, will stop anti-gun individuals "embedded" in government agencies from filing lawsuits to shut down ranges.

It will stop government agencies from forcefully taking ranges under eminent domain, then suing them to remove all projectiles from the land. It will stop government agencies from using the bottomless pit of taxpayer's dollars to sue gun ranges and force them into bankruptcy.

It is in the public interest that firearm owners have a place to shoot and practice gun safety and a place to train to provide the mandated documentation the state requires for licenses to carry concealed firearms and state-mandated hunter safety training for hunting licenses.

Over the past 80 years of range operations, projectiles have accumulated in the environment at many ranges, but despite so-called studies by anti-gun environmentalists, many believe there is no indisputable or incontrovertible evidence that projectile accumulation at shooting ranges poses a threat to the environment or to human health.

Ronald J. Shema is president of Gainesville Target Range Inc.

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