By: Greg Eichelberger –
Sen. Mike Crapo, who has long been an advocate for the Second Amendment, has now set his sights on introducing legislation to establish consistent enforcement regarding firearm possession laws across state and federal lands.
Under current law, a person may carry a weapon in a national park as long as it’s 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 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which, according to Crapo, effectively denies citizens their Second Amendment freedoms.
“The rights of lawful gun owners do not simply stop at arbitrary boundaries,” said Crapo, an Idaho Falls Republican. “Yet, the current patchwork of firearm laws imposed across federal lands infringes on the Second Amendment rights of all Americans. I recently introduced legislation to restore Americans’ fundamental right to bear arms on the 11.7 million acres, 460 lakes and almost 500 recreational areas managed by the corps throughout the country. My bill seeks to make firearm laws consistent across all public lands and protect the legal rights of gun owners.”
According to data compiled by the nonpartisan 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.
“Enabling Americans to carry firearms on land managed by the corps will allow law-abiding citizens to protect themselves and 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,” Crapo said.
And while Crapo does not have a final count of his colleagues who will vote for his bill in the Senate (although he expects strong support and attention by the appropriate committees), he does have the backing of various gun rights organizations, including the Idaho Second Amendment Alliance based in the Boise area.
“We have had numerous discussions on this issue and support Sen. Crapo’s legislation 100 percent,” said director Greg Pruett. “These lands are public even though they are owned by the feds. There are varying degrees of firearm restriction, but Corps of Engineers lands are, for the most part, rural hunting lands, which do not need such regulation.”
The senator also joined with Idaho industry leaders this week in Lewiston to discuss efforts by the federal government to restrict commerce by businesses with which they may not agree. The U.S. Justice Department’s “Operation Choke Point” has been criticized for encouraging financial institutions to deny or restrict credit for businesses not favored by the agency. Crapo has inserted language in the Fiscal 2016 budget resolution to block this federal program.
“The Justice Department’s argument for this is to stop fraud, but they are targeting perfectly legal businesses that have done nothing wrong,” Crapo said. “This is just another in a string of efforts by the administration — in my opinion — to kill Second Amendment rights in this country.
“There is a ‘suspect’ list, which includes many ammunition manufactures and gun dealers, along with many other industries. We want to ensure as much fairness regarding this issue as we possibly can.”