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In an effort to make it easier for Alaskans and other Americans to exercise their right to bear arms on federal lands, U.S. Sen. Mark Begich is cosponsoring legislation to make gun regulations consistent across all federal recreational lands.
The Recreational Lands Self-Defense Act, introduced by Senators Jim Webb (D-VA) and John Boozman (R-AR), brings the Army Corps of Engineers into compliance with other federal agencies as current regulations prohibit the right to carry a gun on lands owned and operated by the Army Corps.
“Having a patchwork of gun regulations on different public lands is confusing and poor public policy,” Begich said. “Alaskans and others should be able to exercise their Second Amendment rights when legally camping, hiking or fishing on federal lands, and this legislation keeps us on that track.”
In 2009, Sen. Begich supported legislation that passed Congress allowing citizens to exercise their Second Amendment right to bear arms on National Park/National Wildlife Service lands. That legislation allows an individual to legally possess a firearm in any unit of the National Park Service or National Wildlife Refuge System while still respecting the ban on firearms in federal buildings.
However, the Army Corp of Engineers owns 7.6 million acres and manages another 4.1 million acres across the country, making it the largest federal provider of water-based outdoor recreation in the nation. In Alaska, the law would impact the Chena Lake Recreation Area near Fairbanks http://corpslakes.usace.army.mil/visitors/states.cfm?state=AK.
The Recreational Lands Self-Defense Act would prohibit the Secretary of the Army from enforcing any regulation that keeps an individual from legally possessing firearms on Army Corps of Engineer Water Resource Development projects or facilities. The legislation would not change current regulations which prohibit guns in federal facilities such as the Corps Headquarters and other buildings. The House recently passed similar legislation as an amendment to the Energy Water and Appropriations bill.
The legislation is strongly supported by the National Rifle Association.
Source: Office of Senator Begich