Back in 2014, the US District Court for the District of Idaho issued an injunction that prevented the US Army Corps of Engineers from banning functional firearms in campgrounds and on lakes. Chief Judge B. Lynn Winmill’s opinion in Morris v. USACE stated that the prohibition was a substantial burden on the exercise of the Second Amendment. The case was appealed to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals by the government.
Fast forward to today and a different administration. The Mountain States Legal Foundation who represents Elizabeth Nesbitt (formerly Morris) and Al Baker in their case just learned that the DOJ lawyers have submitted an emergency motion stating that they plan to revise the policy and codify the win at the District Court level. If this does become the case, this is a great win for the Second Amendment and its practice on federally-regulated lands.
DENVER, CO. An Idaho woman who is barred from carrying a functional firearm for self-defense when she visits vast federal recreational facilities today learned of the Trump administration’s intention to codify her victory before an Idaho federal district court, which ruled the federal government agency’s ban on firearms violates the Second Amendment, at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Elizabeth E. Nesbitt of Nez Perce County is licensed to carry a concealed weapon, regularly carries a concealed weapon, and often seeks to recreate on lands managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Because Corps of Engineers regulations ban functional firearms, even while camped in tents, Ms. Nesbitt is subject to criminal prosecution if she attempts to exercise her Second Amendment rights. Alan C. Baker, a firearms instructor and resident of Idaho’s Latah County, is a co-plaintiff in the suit, which was filed in August of 2013 in Idaho federal district court. The Corps of Engineers did not reply to requests from the attorney for Ms. Nesbitt and Mr. Baker, Mountain States Legal Foundation (MSLF), seeking an exemption from its firearm ban, a ban that has not changed since the landmark Heller ruling by the Supreme Court of the United States.
“On the eve of oral arguments before the Ninth Circuit in Seattle, federal lawyers filed an emergency motion stating their clients’ intention to ‘reconsider the firearms policy,’ which the panel granted moments ago,” said William Perry Pendley of Mountain States Legal Foundation. “We are pleased the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will at last comply with the Constitution.”
The Corps of Engineers operates public parks and recreational facilities at water resource development projects under the control of the Department of the Army and thus is the nation’s largest provider of water-based outdoor recreation. It administers 422 lake and river projects in 43 states, spanning 12 million acres, encompassing 55,000 miles of shoreline and 4,500 miles of trails, and including 90,000 campsites and 3,400 boat launch ramps. Waters under its control constitute 33 percent of all U.S. freshwater fishing.
Ms. Nesbitt was issued an emergency license by the Nez Perce County Sheriff to carry a concealed handgun in 2012 due to threats and physical attacks against her by a former neighbor. She regularly carries a handgun for self-defense. She uses Corps-administered public lands near the Snake River in Lewiston, Idaho, to boat with friends, regularly walks the Corps-administered paths in the area with her dog and/or her family, and must travel across Corps-administered public lands to reach Hells Gate State Park.
Mr. Baker is a NRA-Certified Home Firearm Safety, Personal Protection In The Home, Rifle, Pistol, and Shotgun Instructor, is a Utah Concealed Firearms Instructor, is licensed to carry a concealed handgun in Idaho, Utah, Oregon, and Arizona and regularly carries a handgun for self-defense. A life-long outdoorsman, he regularly recreates on Corps-managed lands in Idaho, including Dworshak Dam and Reservoir on the North Fork Clearwater River.
More news on the case can be found here.