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A few of you may be familiar with 10 USC 4309. It is one of the few surviving laws from the so-called CMP program. It provides in relevant part: “Ranges Available.— All rifle ranges constructed in whole or in part with funds provided by the United States may be used by members of the armed forces and by persons capable of bearing arms.”

Pursuant to this statute, I requested permission to use the Nat'l Guard range here in Oxford. The Mississippi Army National Guard (MSARNG) has steadfastly refused the request, in my view without authority of law. The whole saga is below for those interested.

The reason for this post is that now that litigation seems inevitable, I'm going after them with both barrels. I'm not going to limit my request to open just the Oxford range but instead demand access to every range in Mississippi. Only I don't know what ranges exist, and just as importantly, I need to know which ranges are or have been "open to the public". I'm told Camp Shelby was open to the public at least as recently as a few years ago. Are there others?

So the information I need, and would greatly appreciate, is: where are the National Guard rifle and/or pistol ranges in Mississippi and which ones have been or are currently accessible by non-Guard citizens?


The longer version of how this unfolded: The Oxford range is owned by the City of Oxford and the MSARNG. The Univ. of Miss. leases it for their women's rifle team. There is a joint use agreement among them all. I have tried, for approaching a year, to politely ask for permission using their stated protocol in the use agreement. That got me only a response from the MSARNG that the statute "does not create an entitlement, but when passed, allowed the military to lawfully give permission for civilians to fire on military ranges." That is absolute crap, so far as I can tell.

At its first meeting in 1903, the predecessor to the CMP (then known as the National Board for the Promotion of Rifle Practice) stated
"That every facility should be offered citizens outside of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and organized militia to become proficient in rifle shooting, and that this purpose can best be accomplished by means of rifle clubs."

Civilian access to federally funded rifle ranges is an institutionally entrenched and historically verifiable fact. The National Defense Act of 1916 directed that all military rifle ranges “shall be open for use by . . . all able-bodied males capable of bearing arms . . . .” National Defense Act of 1916 § 113, 39 Stat. 166, 211 (1917).

Furthermore, it is linguistically impossible to read the statute the way the MSARNG wants to. The statute says that any qualifying range "may be used ... by persons capable of bearing arms." The language makes clear who is empowered, e.g. the “persons”. In this sentence, “ranges” is the subject; “may be used” is a simple predicate verb; “constructed...United States” is an adjective phrase that modifies “ranges”; “by members.../by persons...” are prepositional phrases (these phrases cannot contain subject or verb). Thus, the "may" is an operator attached to the helping verb "be" which both modify the verb "used". So, "may" is directed to "ranges," and "by persons..." modifies "used" by telling in what manner. The owner of the range (the military) is not mentioned at all, so it is a grammatical impossiblity that “may” is granting the military permission to do anything.

I have called both Congressmen, Rep. Chiliders and Gov. Barbour. They have not been of any benefit. The NRA does not seem too interested in the issue. So, it is left up to me to push the issue. It is at this point a matter of principle. The government is for the citizens, not the citizens for the government.
 

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I wish you had posted this a week ago, last tuesday I could have brought this up while I was shaking hands with Congressman Childers. It may not have gone over too well with the college brass but I'm entitled to piss them off once and that would have been a good "once".
 

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'atty,

You may want to try Sen. Roger Wicker.

I saw him at the Jackson gun show last Saturday, so maybe he's a gun guy like us and might be more favorably inclined to pursue something like this.

:thumbup:
 

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gunluvinatty said:
Thanks. Wicker sent my request to the BATFE which of course has done nothing so far as I can tell.
Well, crap.

Sounds like he wasn't too interested in fooling with it. I'd imagine a Sen. or Rep. would need to get on Dept. of the Army's case about it to make any headway. DA or maybe Nat'l. Guard Bureau.

:pullhair:
 

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I live four miles from Camp Shelby, and for years we shot at older, unused ranges. I didn't do so often as I don't know the base well, but I've been there quite a few times. A friend of mine used to go out there and use a gravel pit, and I shot there with him three or four years ago. It is now blocked off from the public. In the past I don't think there was ever any explicit information available for members of the public on how to use the ranges, but members of the public did use the small arms ranges on a regular basis. I last shot at a small arms range there on January 1, 2001.

After 9/11 security was tightened up at Shelby. Anyone going onto base has to undergo a vehicle search, etc.; also, since 9/11 Camp Shelby is in use 24/7/365 for training troops for overseas deployment, rather than just for National Guard summer camps. In the past, the whole base often seemed deserted, but now there has been discussion to make the base a full time Army fort, federalizing it for all time instead of under the "temporary" mantle of federalization currently in force.

I worked at Shelby from 2004-2005 on the new Montgomery tank range while it was under construction, and during hunting seasons hunting was allowed on large portions of the base, including on the range (1,000 meters wide by 4,000+ meters long). During that time I never heard anything about members of the public being allowed to use the small arms ranges. Much of the area encompassed by Camp Shelby falls within the De Soto National Forest, and to my knowledge those areas are open for hunting still.

I'm going to be visiting a friend later today who retired both from his civilian job at Shelby and from the MSNG, and he has a much better understanding of the rules as they stand. I do know that if there's a gate, you don't go through it if you have any weapons in your possession. But then, not all of Shelby is controlled by the gates, and not all of it is in use all the time.

The NFS does maintain several ranges for public use on the perimeter of Camp Shelby, and those were open as of Sunday, when I last used one.

That's all I don't know about this question. Considering the current level of training at Shelby, I seriously doubt they'd want anyone using their small arms ranges and competing with troops for range time.
 

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The statute clearly says "may be used..." The statement is permissive not directive in nature.

People capable of bearing arms are permitted not entitled to use federally funded ranges.


The statute doesn't say "All rifle ranges constructed in whole or in part with funds provided by the United States will be made available for use by members of the armed forces and by persons capable of bearing arms.”

No military ranges are open to the public for use at will. They are made available on a case by case basis. Most of the time they are made available for specific competitions.
 

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vranasaurus said:
The statute clearly says "may be used..." The statement is permissive not directive in nature.

People capable of bearing arms are permitted not entitled to use federally funded ranges.
That does tend to clarify things a bit.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
vranasaurus said:
The statute clearly says "may be used..." The statement is permissive not directive in nature.
As I said in the original post, it is permissive on the part of the user, not permissive on the part of the owner. If it was directive ("shall"), then every person capable of bearing arms would HAVE to use the range. I have asked an entire english department to look over this sentence and all agree that I am reading it correctly and the MSARNG is not. Specifically, they said "The owner is not mentioned at all, so how could 'may' apply to the owner?"

The MSARNG's position, and yours I suppose, start with the assumption that but for this law it would be illegal for a citizen to use the range. I don't believe that is the case. There would be no reason for the government to grant someone permission to do something they are not otherwise prevented from doing. There is no law saying "you may brush your teeth". But assuming there was, you would be entirely justified in asserting your right to brush your teeth b/c the statute affirmatively empowers you to do so. It doesn't say I can give you permission to brush your teeth if I so choose, it says you "may" do it if you wish. Just as this statute empowers all persons capable of bearing arms to use the range with certain caveats.

And you are correct, "No military ranges are open to the public for use at will." The statute specifically addresses this in (b)(1) and (2) where it says:

(1) In the case of a rifle range referred to in subsection (a) that is located on a military installation, the Secretary concerned may establish reasonable fees for the use by civilians of that rifle range to cover the material and supply costs incurred by the armed forces to make that rifle range available to civilians
***
(3) Use of a rifle range referred to in paragraph (1) by civilians may not interfere with the use of the range by members of the armed forces.
 

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First (and the least), I want to thank you guys for expanding my english grammer knowledge. Something I am developing now because I failed to learn enough in High School................ :)

Second (the most important), I do know that Camp McCain outside of Grenada, MS held Hi-Power matches inwhich civilians shot in during the mid 80s. Where the "laws" might (possibilty) allow civilians to use government ranges, I can see the range operator's position on scheduling range time for civilians due to "required" support military personnel, liability issues, etc. All SOP issues.

Getting back to your ORIGINAL question.... a list of military ranges in Mississippi. Camp Shelby and Camp McCain are the only two I know of.

.
 

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SubGunFan said:
Getting back to your ORIGINAL question.... a list of military ranges in Mississippi. Camp Shelby and Camp McCain are the only two I know of. /quote]

I have shot a Keesler and the SeaBee base on the Coast many, many years back .. also, it is my understanding their is an old range around Columbus and one in Meridian Naval Air Station.
 

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gunluvinatty said:
Thanks. Wicker sent my request to the BATFE which of course has done nothing so far as I can tell.
He needs a new staff -- they have no idea who should get what!!
 
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