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Captitol Cops Get Bathroom Training After Guns Left in Toilet

WASHINGTON -- Capitol Police officers are getting training after officers accidentally left their guns in the Capitol's public bathrooms three times this year.
One gun was found by a child.

"We are now providing additional training on what to do when you have to go to the bathroom," Capitol Police Chief Kim C. Dine told Congress on Wednesday.

Dine said there is no excuse for officers accidentally leaving their guns in public bathrooms. He said the officers were being disciplined, but he did not name them. A first-time offender typically would be suspended for at least five days, he said.

Some Capitol Police have been leaving loaded guns in public places
Dine said he is considering increasing the minimum penalty to a 30-day suspension for a first offense, and termination for a subsequent violation.

"I would be remiss if I did not say that the officers involved in these recent weapons cases reported in the media in no way intended to leave their weapons unattended. But as noted, this is not acceptable and they will be held accountable," Dine told the House Administration Committee. "They do take very seriously their life and safety responsibilities and they acknowledge that they made a mistake."

Dine testified before the committee following several embarrassing episodes at the Capitol, including a protester who flew a small gyrocopter onto the grounds of the Capitol in April.

Rep. Robert Brady, D-Pa., said the lost guns and other incidents have him questioning the leadership of the police force. Brady is the top Democrat on the committee, which oversees security at the Capitol.

He and others complained that Capitol Police have been slow to provide them with information about incidents in and around the complex.

Lawmakers said they learned about the guns in the bathrooms by reading about them in the press.

"We're not here to criticize you. I can't do your job," Brady told Dine. "You could probably do mine."

But, Brady added: "This is the first time I've met you."

The Capitol Police are responsible for providing security for lawmakers, staff and visitors to the Capitol. They also police the Capitol grounds and the surrounding area.

Dine, chief for 2½ years, acknowledged that he has not done enough to get to know key members of Congress. He promised to communicate better with lawmakers in the future.

Rep Candice Miller R-Mich. chairwoman of the House Administration Committee, sympathized with the officers who misplaced their guns, while noting the seriousness of the offense.

"Everyone has to go to the bathroom," Miller said. But, she added, "securing your weapon is of primary importance."

One gun was left in a bathroom by a member of Senate Majority Leader Mitch's McConnell's security detail, and another was left by an officer who protects House Speaker John Boehner.

Dine said his department is providing more "lock boxes" around the Capitol where officers can safely store their weapons if they need to remove them.

Dine was also questioned about his department's response to the protester who flew the small, helicopter-like device onto the Capitol grounds.

Douglas Hughes of Florida flew his gyrocopter through some of the nation's most restricted airspace, past the White House and the Washington Monument before landing on the West Lawn of the Capitol on the afternoon of April 15. Dine said Capitol Police first spotted Hughes just seconds before he landed.

Dine said officers had "weapons in place" to shoot him down, but instead allowed him to land.

Officers immediately arrested Hughes. The U.S. attorney's office for the District of Columbia said Wednesday that a grand jury has indicted Hughes on six charges. The charges carry up to 9½ years in prison.

Miller praised the Capitol Police's response to the incident, saying it was up to other agencies to enforce Washington's restricted airspace. But she, too, said Dine's office was slow to provide information to lawmakers.

"I thought the Capitol Police performed very well -- once the gyrocopter landed," Miller said. "I think the police work was very impressive, but the communication can be improved."

By Associated Press, CBS News

Hunting, Fishing a Texan’s Right?

AUSTIN - Hunting and fishing have always been a part of Texas. Now, lawmakers want to make them part of the Texas Constitution, too.

Voters will decide in November whether they agree.

It is a defensive move, supporters say, aimed at preventing animal rights activists from chipping away at hunting and fishing via the courts, ad campaigns and legislation.
"By placing this on the November ballot, we have given all Texans the right to pass on our heritage to the coming generations," said Rep. Trent Ashby, R-Lufkin.

In short, the resolution authored by Sen. Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe, would enshrine Texans' right to hunt, fish and harvest wildlife via the "use of traditional methods" in the state constitution, subject to laws that promote wildlife conservation.

Eighteen other states have added such protections to their constitutions, supporters said.

Texas lawmakers typically are not shy about trumpeting their support of hunting and fishing. In 2006, the Legislature passed a law allowing the blind to use laser sights on their rifles to hunt. And a House bill currently awaiting action in committee would create a sales tax holiday for the purchase of firearms and hunting supplies.

Nonetheless, the short debate before Wednesday's House vote did turn a bit heated at times.

'Demeans' document

"At the end of the day, what we put in our constitution is important and our constitution isn't a toy. It's not an item or a document to be taken lightly and if we are asking to put things in our constitution that say this constitutional right to fish and hunt, how about our constitutional right to watch Sunday night football or our constitutional right to love the San Antonio Spurs?" Rep. Roland Gutierrez, D-San Antonio, asked Ashby. "When we do these things to our constitution and make voters go out and vote for these things, it demeans the document and it demeans us."

Ashby said Texas Parks and Wildlife still would be able to charge Texans for hunting and fishing licenses, and balked at the assertion that codifying hunting and fishing rights in the constitution could bar the state from outlawing certain practices as animal cruelty.

The resolution received bipartisan support in the Senate, with just three Democrats voting against. In the House, it passed 111 to 1 with 25 members, mostly Democrats, including Gutierrez, present but not voting. Rep. Borris Miles, D-Houston was the lone dissenting vote.

'Safeguard the hunters'

The National Rifle Association was quick to issue a supportive statement from Chris W. Cox, executive director of the group's legislative advocacy, saying the amendment would "safeguard the hunters and anglers of Texas from extreme animal rights groups dedicated to abolishing America's outdoor tradition."

There is no such threat today, Ashby acknowledged.

"This is looking down the road to future generations," he said.

By Lauren McGaughy, Houston Chronicle

Wildlife Commission will set Hunting Regulations Friday

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission will set the 2015-16 hunting seasons and regulations at their monthly meeting on Friday. The meeting will be held in Nashville at the Ray Bell Region II Building in the Ellington Agricultural Complex beginning at 9 a.m. Committee meetings will begin today at 1 p.m.

Many deer hunters were surprised last month when the commission’s Wildlife Committee directed the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency to prepare a regulation proclamation that would change the annual bag limit for antlered deer from three to two.

The Agency’s Wildlife Division had only recommended minor changes to next year’s deer hunting regulations. Otherwise, the proposed deer hunting regulations were pretty much the same as last year.

A three-buck limit has been in place since 1999, but several commissioners believed that the reduction to two bucks would produce more mature trophy bucks.

Due to the timing of the direction, hunters across the state did not have a chance to comment on the proposed change, and the agency was directed to solicit public comments concerning the issue. It is not known how effective the solicitation was since it was issued on short notice with a limited amount of publicity.

The results of the public solicitation will be revealed at the Wildlife Committee meeting this afternoon.

Other hunting agenda items include a proposal to increase the number of elk hunting zones from five to seven to reduce the harvest pressure in certain zones. A limited elk hunting season has been allowed since 2009 in the North Cumberland Wildlife Management Area north of Knoxville.

Five permits are issued (four through a random drawing and the fifth through a nationwide auction) each year for a five-day hunt in October. An additional youth-hunt permit was authorized in 2009. It is also selected through a random drawing.

A recommendation will also be considered to change the turkey hunting regulations on bottomland Wildlife Management Areas in West Tennessee by moving 14 WMAs from quota hunts to non-quota hunts and five WMAs from statewide regulations to non-quota hunts.

It is also proposed to reduce fall turkey hunting in Middle Tennessee by closing four counties and reducing the bag limit in 16 others because of concerns over population levels in specific counties.

A change in the bear dog training season and a zone expansion to include all of Hamilton County will be considered.

A complete list of the agenda items can be found at the TWRA website www.tnwildlife.org.

The committee meetings and the commission meeting are open to the public and interested persons may make appropriate comments on the proposed changes.

By Owen Schroeder, The Leaf-Chronicle