Trump Administration to Abolish One of America’s Biggest Gun-Free Zones
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 geocaching.
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.
The otherwise lawful possession of firearms, including for self-defense, is effectively banned.
Not only does this policy infringe the Second Amendment rights of visitors to these areas, as has been recognized by at least one federal court, it is at odds with policies governing firearms that apply on other types of federal recreational lands.
The National Park Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the Bureau of Reclamation, and the U.S. Forest Service all recognize a right to possess firearms on lands under their authority, consistent with the laws of the states in which those lands are located.
Meanwhile, federal statutory law continues to prohibit the possession of firearms in “federal facilities” (i.e., buildings where federal employees regularly perform their official duties), a restriction that would not be changed by the pending rulemaking.
As proposed, the rule would allow visitors to possess and transport firearms on ACE water resource development project lands and waters, provided they are not prohibited by law from possessing firearms and the possession or transportation is otherwise in compliance with applicable laws.
This commonsense provision would abolish an existing gun-free zone on 12 million acres of public lands and waters nationwide, including 55,390 miles of shoreline, 7,856 miles of trails, 92,588 campsites, and 3,754 boat ramps.
Comments may be filed in support of the rule at Regulations.gov. Submissions are due by June 12, 2020.
As Americans look forward to re-engaging in their favorite outdoor pastimes at the end of the state lockdowns currently in effect because of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Trump administration is at work to ensure they will do so with their Second Amendment rights fully intact.