An Illinois gun range has been cited for “27 serious violations includ[ing] 13 for violating the lead standard” resulting in proposed fines of $111,000, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced in a news release earlier this week. Illinois Gun Works Ltd. was cited for “failing to implement engineering and work practice controls” following “a Jan. 21 inspection referred by the Illinois Department of Public Health.”
The citation, issued on June 6, also included what OSHA defines as “serious violations” that “include failing to implement a hazard communication program, train workers on hazardous …label chemical bottles…administer an effective hearing conservation program, train in the use of personal protective equipment and implement a respirator protection program...”
While workplace safety ought to be a paramount concern for any employer, and while the list of citations provides a blueprint for corrective actions needed to regain compliance, a review of the detail of some of the cited instances, such as picking up a shell casing without gloves, shows that achieving a clean bill of health free of any subjectively-assessed violation may be impossible, and that such audits could be used to effectively close down gun ranges using fines to make their operations unprofitable.
That, in fact, fulfills a speculation made by Gun Rights Examiner in August, 2009, when this column predicted “OSHA pick Michaels will use 'public health' scheme to 'regulate' guns.” The specific flag raised was that the nominee, David Michaels, would not hesitate to use his position and power to promote a personal anti-gun agenda that includes vocal advocacy for exploiting high-profile incidents of violence involving guns to then push a “public health” rationale for further government controls.
“We're dealing with someone who views guns only in terms of their misuse,” this columnist wrote at the time. “Their protective benefits are not even considered in his advocacy for treating them as a public health issue.”
“That’s by no means irrelevant,” Walter Olson of Overlawyered wrote, “because once you start viewing private gun ownership as a public health menace, it begins to seem logical to use the powers of government to urge or even require employers to forbid workers from possessing guns on company premises...In addition, OSHA has authority to regulate the working conditions of various job categories associated with firearms use...”
Unfortunately, those early warnings were confined to a niche readership, and that was not enough to persuade the Senate to heed this column’s calls to reject the nominee and Michaels was confirmed. As there is no indication that his confirmation vote counts toward a politician’s political scorecard with groups like NRA, perhaps the national gun advocacy organizations could use their clout to explore a legislative solution to rein in inspectors with agendas, and ensure that regulatory actions aren’t abused to promote more of the administration’s “under the radar” gun control.
Otherwise, there’s probably not a gun range in the country an ambitious, “true believer,” eager to please the boss, couldn’t find something wrong with, as the administration “send[s] hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance,” not to mention their rights.