Bill to Restore Second Amendment to Corps Land Introduced

Army Corps of Engineers Land Gun Free Zones
Army Corps of Engineers Land Gun Free Zones

By Dean Weingarten

Dean Weingarten
Dean Weingarten

Arizona – -(Ammoland.com)- Idaho Senator Mike Crapo has introduced legislation(pdf) to remove federal infringments on second amendment rights from lands controlled by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps). From the press release:

The bill seeks to make firearm regulations consistent across federal lands by allowing law-abiding citizens to carry firearms on U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) property. Under current law, a person may carry a concealed weapon in a National Park or Refuge as long as individuals comply with the firearm laws of the park’s home state. However, the same rights are not extended to Americans who hunt, camp or fish on land owned by the Corps, effectively denying them of their Second Amendment freedoms guaranteed under the Constitution when on Corps lands. 

This legislation has been introduced for the last three sessions of Congress but has been bottled up by Harry Reid in the Senate and the Obama administration.  Perhaps the 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).

The press release continues:

“Not only does this policy discourage use of the 11.7 million acres, 460 lakes and almost 500 recreational areas that are owned or managed by the Corps, but, more importantly, it infringes on Americans’ Second Amendment rights,” said Crapo. “The rights of lawful gun owners do not stop at arbitrary boundaries, and this legislation will ensure those rights are protected by bringing consistency to the current conflicting myriad of firearm regulations imposed across public lands.”

Specifically, Crapo’s legislation would clarify that federal regulations should not forbid the possession of firearms on Army Crops projects and lands, as long as the firearm possession complies with state laws. Additionally, it would ensure that Corps policy is consistent with the policy already in effect at National Parks or Refuges. 

In June of 2014, a lawsuit was filed in Georgia asking for an injunction against enforcement of the Corps' ban in that state.   The  judge there ignored the second amendment implications, ruling that all of Corps lands were “sensitive”, like a school or government building.

Summary judgment in favor of second amendment rights was granted in the Idaho case on October 13, 2014.  Here is a link to the rulilng(pdf).

Now that Harry Reid is not controlling the Senate, able to block reforms, the bill has a good chance of passage.   President Obama might sign it if it is attached to legislation that he wants to see passed, as he did with the reform that removed most federal infringements on second amendment rights in national parks and refuges.

When the national park legislation was passed, an unfortunate oversight left a provision in that the law for a general prohibition on the carry of arms into “federal facilities”, which applied to federal offices.  This allowed the National Park Service (NPS) to regulate the carry of firearms within federal “facilities” enclosed in National Parks.

The Park Service has used this oversight to ban the carry of guns in most National Park buildings, including restrooms in Yellowstone!  I was surprised to see the reason given in the Intermountain regulations.    Apparently, your ability to carry a personal firearm into a National Park restroom is considered a matter of national security.   Here is the quote from the IMR NPS pdf.

•     For national security reasons, guns cannot be
carried into federal facilities within national
parks. Notice of this rule will be clearly
displayed outside all federal facilities. If
you are unsure if a park building is a federal
facility, look for a sign or ask a park ranger.

Perhaps this time, the oversight that allowed recalcitrant NPS bureaucrats to ban guns in park bathrooms will be corrected.   I doubt that the Senate meant for people with personal pistols to be forced to pee behind a tree.
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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