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U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Needs to Hear From You About Its Firearms Policy

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Needs to Hear From You About Its Firearms Policy

Photo: USACE

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) needs to hear from American gun owners and Second Amendment supporters. 

Recently, USACE published a request for comments in the Federal Register, specifically for comments “on its proposed revision of its regulation that governs the possession and transportation of firearms and other weapons at Corps water resources development projects. This proposed revision would align the Corps regulation with the regulations of the other Federal land management agencies by removing the need for an individual to obtain written permission before possessing a weapon on Corps projects.”

Currently, you can possess a firearm on a USACE property if you are hunting or using a public shooting range, but to carry concealed, you must have “written permission,” in this case from the local USACE district commander.

This is a confusing situation for gun owners with carry permits as most other public lands—including most Federally-managed lands—allow for carry without having to obtain permission (see below).

USACE is accepting comments on the proposed revision of its regulations until June 12, 2020, and is considering three alternatives: 1. No Action; 2. revising the regulation to permit the possession of weapons when consistent with federal, state and local laws so long as the weapon is carried either unloaded or concealed on the person, or is being used for hunting, fishing or target shooting; 3. Or, USACE’s “preferred alternative,” aligning its regulations to fit the laws of the host states which, in most cases, would mean the ability to carry a firearm as long as the person has the legal ability to do so under applicable state and federal laws.

The USACE posting in the Federal Register says, “The Corps is proposing this revision in order to update the Corps regulations in a way that more appropriately reflects the current state and local regulation of the possession of weapons, and firearms in particular. The Corps believes that the current Corps regulation, by requiring individuals to obtain written permission before possessing a weapon, is burdensome on the public and the Corps without providing any corresponding benefit.”

The last time USACE considered changing firearms regulations was in 2000.

“Since then, many states have passed laws or amended existing laws to provide for the carrying of firearms by private individuals,” said Doug Garman, USACE public affairs officer. “In addition, the firearm regulations of other federal land management agencies have recently been amended to make them more consistent with the law of the state in which the federal lands are located. This change will align USACE regulation with those of other federal land management agencies and will more appropriately reflect the requirements of current state and local laws authorizing the possession of firearms by individuals.”

USACE manages approximately 12 million acres of public lands and waters on over 400 lake and river projects in 43 states. Annually, these properties see 270 million visits for the purposes of recreation, covering everything from hunting and fishing to hiking and camping.

One such USACE property is Georgia’s Lake Sidney Lanier. Constructed by the USACE in the 1950s for flood protection, power production and water supply, the lake and its adjoining lands host more 11.8 million people annually for outdoor recreation, but, currently, those 11 million people can’t carry concealed without written permission.

To view the USACE proposals, visit the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov. The docket number is COE-2018-0008. Instructions for submitting comments are provided on the portal. Comments must be received by USACE no later than June 12, 2020.

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