Republican lawmakers in The House Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee have approved the proposed $37.56 billion Fiscal Year 2018 Energy and Water Appropriations Bill . This bill lifts the 40-year ban on carrying firearms for self-defense on 12 million acres of federal public land controlled by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).
Some people have criticized this bill, saying the 2nd Amendment piece was “buried” in a much larger bill in order to circumvent the gun-control lobby. Most people knew this was coming though, because in March 2017 the USACE announced that it is changing its policy to allow visitors to carry personal firearms on the land, even when they’re not actively hunting.
There have been a couple of lawsuits already challenging this, and the results have been mixed. The corps lost one federal lawsuit in the 9th Circuit Court (Nesbitt v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers) and is under challenge in another suit.
US citizens are allowed to carry concealed in national parks and wildlife refuges as of 2010, thanks to changes made at that time by the National Park Service and National Wildlife Service . The text of the bill states “the secretary of the Army shall not promulgate or enforce any regulation that prohibits an individual from possessing a firearm, including an assembled or functional firearm, at a water resources development project” overseen by the Army Corps. Seems pretty clear.
If this passes, this opens up concealed carry on 11.7 million acres of land and 422 lake and river projects with recreation, 95,000 campsites, 6,500 miles of trails and 3,522 boat launches.
Image courtesy of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers