Court Finds Corps of Engineers Ban on Guns Unconstitutional

By Dean Weingarten

United States District Court for the District of Idaho
United States District Court for the District of Idaho
Dean Weingarten
Dean Weingarten

Arizona – -( Senator Coburn of Oklahoma has been attempting to remove the ban on carrying guns on lands managed by the Army Corps of Engineer for several years.

Perhaps the Obama administration should have agreed to the legislative compromise before the ban was challenged in court.   Now the Corps is faced with a court decision citing Peruta in the Ninth Circuit, that declares that carry outside of the home is a constitutional right.

On 10 January, 2014, Judge B. Lynn Winmill of the United States District Court for the District of Idaho, issued a preliminary injunction against the Army Corps of Engineers to prevent enforcement of the Corps' rules banning guns on the properties that it manages.   Here is a link to the ruling itself (pdf).

In June of 2014, a lawsuit was filed in Georgia asking for an injunction against enforcement of the Corps' ban in that state.

On October 13, 2014, the U.S. District Court in Idaho granted  summary judgement for the plaintiffs, Morris and Baker.   From the ruling (pdf) at Courthouse News:

 The Court has before it cross-motions for summary judgment. The Court heard oral argument on August 27, 2014, and took the motions under advisement. After further review, the Court has decided, for reasons set forth below, to grant the plaintiffs’ motion and deny the Corps’ motion.

The ruling is written in clear language.  It references the Georgia case, where the judge has refused to grant an injunction.  The Georgia judge cited the Nordyke case from the Ninth Circuit, but ignored the Peruta decision, also from the Ninth Circuit.   Judge Winmill writes that he falls under the Ninth Circuit, and must follow Peruta.

The Court must ask first whether the Corps’ regulation burdens conduct protected by the Second Amendment. It does. The Second Amendment protects the right to carry a firearm for self-defense purposes. Heller, 554 U.S. at 628 (stating that “the inherent right of self-defense has been central to the Second Amendment right”). That right extends outside the home. Peruta, 742 F.3d at 1166 (holding that “the right to bear arms includes the right to carry an operable firearm outside the home for the lawful purpose of self-defense”).

Then Judge Winmill addresses a key point that is obvious, but which those who wish to disarm their political opponents frequently ignore on internet forums, and which we have seen enacted in various forms of legislation. The claim of the disarmamenters is that the second amendment protects guns … but not ammunition. This is laughable to anyone who considers it, yet it has repeatedly been brought forth as if it contains a serious thought. Judge Winmill demolishes it below:

The Corps’ regulation bans carrying a loaded firearm for the purpose of self- defense. It also bans carrying an unloaded firearm along with its ammunition. At most, it would allow a person to carry an unloaded firearm so long as he was not also carrying its ammunition. An unloaded firearm is useless for self-defense purposes without its ammunition. While those who use firearms for hunting are allowed greater latitude, the regulation grants no such exemption to those carrying firearms solely for purposes of self-defense. Consequently, the regulation does impose a burden on plaintiffs’ Second Amendment rights.

This echos a finding in the Ninth Circuit case JACKSON V. CITY & CNTY. OF SAN FRANCISCO(pdf).

Thus “the right to possess firearms for protection implies a corresponding right” to obtain the bullets necessary to use them.

It is not known if the Obama administration will appeal this decision.

They may not wish to risk an adverse decision in the Ninth Circuit.   Until there is an appeal, or an adverse Supreme Court decision, this decision is in force in Idaho.

c2014 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included. Link to Gun Watch

About Dean Weingarten;

Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of constitutional carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and recently retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.

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5 years ago

It’s not their land, it’s our land!!!

5 years ago

The article states this is in effect in Idaho. Is it also in effect in Missouri? Much Army Corp land around Table Rock Lake.