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H. R. 1865, The Recreational Lands Self-Defense Act

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

In recent years, one of gun owners’ top priorities has been to remove restrictions on where law-abiding persons may legally carry a firearm for self-defense. The removal of the restriction on carry in national parks and national wildlife refuges was a major step forward in the effort to remove unneeded restrictions on the fundamental right to self-defense.

However, there are still millions of acres of land owned or managed by the federal government that are still restricted. The Army Corps of Engineers in particular continues to inappropriately restrict carrying of firearms on recreational land it manages. After passage of the change in carry regulations for National Parks, the Army Corps released a statement that read: "Public Law 111-024 does not apply to Corps projects of facilities . . . It [the Army Corps] will continue to prohibit loaded concealed weapons on Corps properties regardless of the new law and notwithstanding any contrary provisions of state law."

This is a significant infringement on the rights of Americans as the Corps owns or manages over 11.7 million acres of recreational land, including 400 lakes and river projects, 90,000 campsites and 4,000 miles of trails.

To remedy this situation, Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio) and Rep. Jason Altmire (D-Pa.) have introduced H.R. 1865, the Recreational Lands Self-Defense Act.

H.R. 1865 will reverse the Army Corps policy and specifically prohibit the Secretary of the Army from enforcing any regulation that prohibits gun possession in compliance with state law on Corps projects and lands. The legislation would continue to allow prohibitions on firearms in federal facilities such as Army Corps headquarters, Corps research facilities or lock and dam buildings.

"According to some estimates, the federal government owns 30 percent of all land across this country," said NRA-ILA Executive Director Chris W. Cox. "This bill will take us one step closer toward having a consistent firearms policy across all federal lands. The members of the NRA along with tens of millions of other gun owners would like to thank Congressmen Gibbs and Altmire for their leadership in seeking a common-sense bipartisan remedy to this problem."

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Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.