By: Teresa Mull
The Trump administration has expressed support for a measure that would end the decades-long rule that made it unlawful to carry a gun for anything other than hunting on public lands.
On April 13, the Trump Administration published a proposed rule to end a ban on the possession of firearms in water resource development projects administered by the Army Corps of Engineers (ACE).
These areas comprise one of the largest networks of outdoor recreation sites in America, encompassing more than 400 lake and river projects in 43 states. Activities that occur on these sites include hiking, boating, fishing, camping, hunting, and geo-caching.
Currently, regulations pertaining to these areas authorize the use and possession of firearms only for specified purposes, including hunting or at designated shooting ranges, or with written permission from the District Commander who has jurisdiction over the area in question.
Outdoorsmen and women have until June 12, 2020 to comment on the proposed rule, which states, in part:
The proposed revision would change Corps policy regarding the procedure an individual must follow to possess a weapon on Corps projects. The Corps is authorized to issue this regulation under 16 U.S.C. 460, which states “[t]he water areas of all . . . [water resources development] projects shall be open to public use . . . and ready access to and exit from such areas along the shores of such projects shall be maintained for general public use . . . under such rules and regulations as the Secretary of the Army may deem necessary.”
Specifically, the proposed revision would remove the requirement that an individual obtain written permission before possessing a weapon on a Corps project, which is a requirement except when the possession occurs for certain authorized recreation purposes. In doing so, the revised regulation would permit an individual to possess a weapon and associated ammunition when the possession both complies with the Federal, state, and local law where the project is located, and the individual is not otherwise prohibited by law from possessing the weapon. This change would reduce the burden on the public by eliminating the requirement to obtain written permission before possessing a weapon, but it would not change the fact that individuals already may, at present, possess weapons on Corps projects if they receive appropriate permission.
The current Corps regulation, 36 CFR 327.13, allows visitors on Corps projects to possess weapons such as firearms only after written permission has been received from the District Commander. Law enforcement officers are excepted from this requirement, as are individuals possessing weapons when the weapon is being used for hunting or fishing, as provided in 36 CFR 327.8, or is being used at an authorized shooting range. Written permission from the District Commander is also required to possess explosives and explosive devices, including fireworks.
In proposing to revise the regulation, the Corps intends to remove the requirement that individuals must apply for written permission from the District Commander before possessing a weapon. Written permission would still be required to possess explosives and explosive devices. Individuals possessing or transporting a weapon would need to meet the Federal, state and local requirements for doing so in the jurisdiction where the Corps project is located, such as by possessing a valid state permit or license. Individuals prohibited by any law from possessing or transporting a weapon would not be permitted to do so on a Corps project. The prohibition on firearms and dangerous weapons in Federal facilities, 18 U.S.C. 930, would continue to apply to those Corps facilities falling within the coverage of that statute.
In addition, the proposed revision would give the District Commander the discretion to modify or revoke the permissions granted under this section when issuing a special event permit under 36 CFR 327.21. Special events require written permission granted by the District Commander. Restrictions may be imposed for security, public safety, or other reasons deemed necessary by the District Commander. Conditions of the special event may include weapon restrictions, and allow the District Commander to revoke permissions upon failure to comply with the terms and conditions of the special event permit.
Politico has reported that the Trump administration has “eased gun restrictions over the past 2½ years,” namely, by “[implementing] more than half a dozen policy changes — primarily through little-noticed regulatory moves — that expand access to guns by lifting firearms bans in certain locations and limiting the names in the national database designed to keep firearms away from dangerous people.”
Editor's Note: You can leave your comments in support of the proposed change directly on the FederalRegister.Gov site here.
Teresa Mull is editor of Gunpowder Magazine. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.