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Filtering by Tag: politics

in our sights: the national monument review

Emily Degan

There may be no more polarizing debate within the outdoor industry than that surrounding national monuments. This discussion has taken on a national flavor, as President Trump recently asked for a review of 21 designated national monuments. Today we dig into why stakeholders either enthusiastically support or defend the review, as well as the designation of monuments themselves.

First off: what is a national monument? Under the Antiquities Act of 1906, a president can make any federally owned land a protected area to be managed by an agency like National Park Service or the United States Forest Service by designating it a “national monument.” Note that this is not the same as a national park. While presidents are able to designate national monuments, only congress can create national parks.

In 1908, President Theodore Roosevelt used this act to establish the Grand Canyon as a national monument. The act was used as recently as December 2016 by President Obama to designate almost 1.4 million acres in Utah as a national monument called Big Ears.

Many see President Trump’s request to review 21 existing national monuments as a reaction to President Obama’s late-term designation of Big Ears, which was controversial at the time. But what the review could mean for the monuments’ future is unclear. Past attorneys general have stated that while presidents are able to designate national monuments, they do not have the legal authority to abolish them. In any event, below are some stakeholders’ motivation for speaking out.

  • National monument proponents think that their designation is important for conservation and protection, and could also drive eco-tourism dollars to their states
    • Conservation includes not just wildlife, but also cultural conservation; in the case of Big Ears, the designated land contains archeological and tribal sites of historic significance
  • National monument opponents think that the federal government is exercising overreaching power at the detriment of local communities, particularly in poor, rural areas
    • They argue that federal land should be turned over to the states or sold off for commercial development
    • Conservation organizations like the Wild Sheep Foundation also argue that designation limits land access, inhibiting scientific research, wildlife management, and outdoor recreation

What’s clear is that this issue has huge consequences at the local level. After Utah politicians voiced support for the Trump review and advocated for the abolishment of Big Ears, the Outdoor Industry Association pulled its semi-annual conference from Salt Lake City, costing Utah an estimated $45 million. So, no matter where you stand on this issue, it’s important to be informed as there could be real impacts to your local community.

Happy learning!

in our sights: the sandy hook repeal

Emily Degan

Over the past week, you’ve probably heard a lot about the so-called “Sandy Hook” rule. That’s because on Tuesday, President Donald Trump signed into law its repeal. So, we took an unbiased look at what that means for Americans.

Implemented by the Obama administration after the horrific shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the rule required the Social Security Administration to report the names of people receiving disability benefits for mental health conditions to the FBI. The FBI maintains a database used during background checks to determine eligibility to purchase a firearm. The Sandy Hook rule was expected to add about 75,000 names to that database.

Opponents of the rule, which included both the ACLU and the NRA, claimed that it stripped Americans of their Second Amendment rights without allowing them due process. They also argued that the criteria for determining mental disability within the rule were too vague to be effective, and that it reinforced the stereotype that people with mental disabilities are violent.

Proponents of the rule contended that it was a common-sense measure necessary to keep citizens safe: "If you can't manage your own financial affairs, how can we expect that you're going to be a responsible steward of a dangerous, lethal firearm?" - Chris Murphy (D-Connecticut).

Last month the Senate used the Congressional Review Act (a law that provides Congress at 6-month window to reevaluate actions taken by an outgoing presidential administration) to strike down the rule in a 57 to 43 to vote. President Trump’s Tuesday signing affirmed that repeal.

It’s worth noting that despite the repeal, certain classes of citizens are still banned from legally owning a firearm.  The Gun Control Act of 1968 revokes the Second Amendment rights of the following:

  • Fugitives from justice,
  • Illegal aliens,
  • Unlawful users of certain drugs,
  • Those committed to a mental institution,
  • Those convicted of crimes punishable by imprisonment for more than 1 year (covers most felonies), and
  • Those convicted of domestic violence crimes.

Happy learning!

in our sights: decision 2016

Emily Degan

And now a moment for everyone’s favorite topic: the 2016 presidential election. As one of the very first issues covered in Wednesday night’s debate, second amendment rights clearly weigh heavily on the minds of many Americans. During the debate, both candidates spoke generally about their stances on guns, but we wanted to take a closer look at each candidate’s view on specific gun matters.

What follows are just the candidates’ positions – no opinions or endorsements.

Happy voting!