March 17, 2015

Crapo: Ban on Firearm Possession on Corps Land A Clear Violation of the Second Amendment

Senatorâ??s bill to make gun laws consistent across public lands included in the Sportsmenâ??s Package, highlighted at EPW hearing

Washington, D.C.-Legislation offered by Idaho Senator Mike Crapo to restore American's fundamental right to bear arms on lands managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) is being included as a part of the Bipartisan Sportsmen's Act of 2015 and was the focus of a Senate Environment and Public Works hearing on Capitol Hill this morning.  Crapo's bill, S. 263, would remedy the current patchwork of firearm laws imposed across public lands. 

Under current law, a person may carry a weapon in a National Park as long as consistent with the firearm laws of the surrounding states,  However, those very same rights are not extended to Americans who hunt, camp or fish on land controlled by the Corps-effectively denying citizens of their Second Amendment freedoms when on Corps land. 

"Not only is this a clear violation of the Second Amendment, but also it is inconsistent with laws and regulations governing lands managed by other federal agencies," said Crapo during the hearing.  "Enabling Americans to carry firearms on land managed by the Corps will allow law-abiding citizens to protect themselves.  This change will also provide needed consistency across federal lands that will reduce the complication of tracking where one federal agency's land management jurisdiction ends and another begins."

To watch the Seantor's full remarks on YouTube, click here

Remarks as prepared for delivery:

Thank you, Chairman Sullivan, for holding this important hearing on the bipartisan sportsmen's package within EPW's jurisdiction.

Legislation I introduced to protect American's Second Amendment rights on lands managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is thankfully included among the many important provisions in the package.

According to data compiled by the Congressional Research Service, the Corps is responsible for 12 million acres of land and waters, including 422 lake and river projects with recreation, 92,844 campsites, 7,700 miles of trails, and 3,544 boat launches.

While some Corps lands and waters are open for hunting, and there are a small number of authorized shooting ranges, much of the land managed by the Corps is off limits to lawful possession of firearms. Not only is this a clear violation of the Second Amendment, but also it is inconsistent with laws and regulations governing lands managed by other federal agencies.

Enabling Americans to carry firearms on land managed by the Corps will allow law-abiding citizens to protect themselves.  This change will also provide needed consistency across federal lands that will reduce the complication of tracking where one federal agency's land management jurisdiction ends and another begins.

The Supreme Court, in District of Columbia v. Heller, affirmed that the Second Amendment is an individual right and the right to an operable firearm for self-defense.  This right should apply on all lands managed by the federal government.

Moreover, a federal district judge in my home state of Idaho agrees. The case, Morris v. US. Army Corps of Engineers, was brought by plaintiffs in western Idaho who use Corps managed lands for recreation, including camping.  The plaintiffs challenged the regulation as being an unconstitutional violation of the Second Amendment.  In October of last year, the court found that the regulation was unconstitutional and banned the Corps policy, unfortunately, only in Idaho.

Burdening law-abiding citizens of this country with additional gun restrictions is not the answer to safeguarding the public Americans' Second Amendment rights must be restored to lands managed by the Corps, and my legislation included in the sportsmen's package achieves this necessary goal.