Congressional Western Caucus Members Denny Rehberg (MT-AL), Rob Bishop (UT-01) and Paul Broun (GA-10) have introduced the Firearms Freedom on Federal Lands Act (H.R. 5523) to prevent the Secretaries of Agriculture and Interior from issuing or enforcing any regulation or executive order, including presidential declarations authorized under the Antiquities Act, that prohibit an individual from possessing a firearm on lands managed by the Forest Service or Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Bishop, Rehberg and Broun are also members of the Second Amendment Task Force.
The legislation responds to the Obama Administration's disturbing pattern of bypassing congressional authority and public input when making decisions that affect our public lands, including the Department of the Interior's (DOI) leaked plan to designate 13 million acres as new National Monuments.
"There's a large segment of powerful Washington, D.C. elites that thinks the Second Amendment is obsolete and unnecessary," said Congressman Rehberg. "These progressives envision a world where only criminals and agents of the state are armed, and will use every tactic at their disposal to make this a reality. It's up to Congress to protect these rights from overreaching bureaucrats, and that's exactly what this legislation seeks to do."
"There is no question that there are many in Washington who would like to do away with the Second Amendment altogether and are aggressively finding new avenues to fulfill this very agenda. Just last year, my fellow Western colleagues and I were successful in reversing outdated laws that prevent individuals complying with federal and state laws from exercising their right to carry a concealed firearm while visiting national parks and wildlife refuges. Today, we are taking similar steps to safeguard Second Amendment rights on BLM and Forest Service lands from the heavy handedness of Washington bureaucrats looking to fulfill their political agendas," said Western Caucus Chairman Rob Bishop.
"The right to keep and bear arms is one of the most fundamental rights of a free people," said Congressman Paul Broun who also serves as co-chairman of the Congressional Second Amendment Task Force. "Since lawmakers and judicial activists continuously attempt to strip Americans of their second amendment rights, it is critical that we pass legislation that protects people's rights to exercise this precious freedom all across America."
Until last year, when Congress stepped in to correct the problem, the National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service prevented visitors from carrying firearms on federally controlled National Parks and National Wildlife Refuges; however, no such statute prevents the Forest Service or BLM from issuing similar restrictions banning guns on lands under their management. Visitors choosing to bring a firearm onto these lands would continue to be governed under state law.
"We applaud Congressmen Rehberg, Bishop and Broun for taking the lead in making sure all outdoorsmen can continue to pursue their passion on Forest Service and BLM lands," said David Allen, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation President and CEO. "It's vitally important to the future of our outdoor traditions, recreation, conservation and economic impact--but also for the future of wildlife management. For these same reasons, we are very concerned about future proposed federal land designations that have the potential to inhibit sporting activity, access and opportunity as we know it today. We are disappointed that RMEF and other similar wildlife conservation groups have not been included so far in the planning process to re-designate significant amounts of public land as new National Monument land."