The Coast Guard recently started a program whereby all boat crews with mounted weapons must shoot an underway course of fire for qualification. This is a pretty big change for the Coast Guard; as the caption on this phone notes, "Uncle Sam now comes armed with a big machine gun." The hope, of course, is that Uncle Sam knows how to shoot it safely without killing any good guys.
The Coast Guard was going to implement more than 30 safety zones for firing on the Great Lakes. This has people up in arms; who wants live firing all over the Great Lakes, anyway? Well, the Coast Guard does, at least to get people qualified and current. There's an uproar.
Now I read that Congress, while not stopping the practice, has decided to ensure the Coast Guard gets the word out before any live firing underway.
From the Bay City Times:
The U.S. Coast Guard will have to do more than just broadcast notice of live-fire training exercises on marine band radio under a new Department of Homeland Security bill, U.S. Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Menominee, has announced.Well, that's one way to get my attention: attach measures to my wallet...
This year's funding bill for the department includes a provision requiring the Coast Guard to provide public notice of training exercises on marine band radio, and also notify harbor masters and the local media, a Stupak spokesman said.
Stupak worked with U.S. Rep. Dave Obey, D-Wis., to have the provision inserted. Both congressman said they think the change will help keep the public safe.
The bill has been passed and signed into law by President Bush.
''Many recreational fishermen do not have the radios, so it is imperative that the Coast Guard provide as much notice as possible,'' Stupak said in a statement. ''This legislation will ensure that, at minimum, the Coast Guard employs other methods of communication to put out the word that they will be conducting a live-fire exercise.''
The Coast Guard wants to establish 34 permanent ''safety zones'' throughout the lakes that will be used periodically for training exercises with machine guns.