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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
According to this site, guns are not allowed in campgrounds in the Salt Lake Ranger District of the Wasatch-Cache national forest. My wife and I went camping at Bountiful Peak campground (up Farmington canyon) a couple of nights ago, so this rule applied to us.

Edit: Forgot to include the site url: http://www.fs.fed.us/r4/wcnf/unit/slrd/ ... ndex.shtml It says there is a $100 fine for taking a gun into the campgrounds

The question I have: is this law legal? I don't remember hearing about it during my CC class. I thought that out of wilderness areas, etc, only National Parks had no-gun laws.

What's up with this?

In any case, I saw that no guns were allowed, and that made me think of the ineffective Virginia Tech "Gun-Free" zone.

I won't say what I actually did as far as taking a firearm up there.
 

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It is not legal for them to restrict guns in the campground. We need to get this changed.

The code referenced simply states you can't discharge a firearm within 150 yards of a camp/building/etc. or across a road.

There may also be a county ordinance against discharging a weapon there, but they can't restrict ALL guns as the site claims.
 

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They reference USC 16 551 and CFR 261. The first gives the Secretary of Agriculture authority to establish rules to protect the forest. The second is, I'm assuming, a reference to CFR Title 36 part 261, which is the USDA rules prohibiting various things in National Forests. The firearm rule cites 261.10, which is titled "Occupancy and use". It lists a bunch of things that are prohibited, and paragraph (d) says:

(d) Discharging a firearm or any other implement capable of taking
human life, causing injury, or damaging property as follows:
(1) In or within 150 yards of a residence, building, campsite,
developed recreation site or occupied area, or
(2) Across or on a National Forest System road or a body of water
adjacent thereto, or in any manner or place whereby any person or
property is exposed to injury or damage as a result in such discharge.
(3) Into or within any cave.
So it appears that the actual Department of Agriculture rule prohibits discharging a firearm in or near a campground, not possessing one.

The rule on the web site, "No firearms are allowed in campgrounds," clearly exceeds the actual Department of Agriculture rule.

CFR 261.70 gives "the Chief, and each Regional Forester to whom the Chief has delegated authority", the right to make regulations for a variety of purposes. Among them are "Public safety", "Protection of health" and "Establishing reasonable rules of public conduct". Since the Salt Lake Ranger District refers to their area as an "urban forest", they may well think that the presence of guns makes campgrounds less safe.

It appears to me that the rule probably is authorized under the USDA regulations. On the other hand, I think SCOTUS would say that it's a blanket ban (on ALL firearms, not just one class!) and therefore unconstitutional. I'm pretty sure that state law doesn't apply on federal land (except where federal law/regulations say that it applies). That means state pre-emption is inapplicable, but also mean that DC v. Heller applies fully -- no "incorporation" quibbles about whether or not the second amendment restricts states.

Bottom line: I think it's probably legal under the USDA regs, but unconstitutional for them to issue those regulations.

I suggest sending an e-mail to ask for clarification on the rule, whether it prohibits only discharge, as per CFR 36 261.10, which it references, or whether it prohibits possession. If they respond that it prohibits possession, then followup will be required, walking up the chain of command, possibly to the Secretary of Agriculture. If everyone affirms the rule, then a lawsuit would be required to change it, but hopefully it wouldn't come to that.
 

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One more comment:

To all of the whiners (not so many on this forum, but if you frequent other gun forums, I'm sure you've seen them) who complained about how DC v Heller was useless because it didn't go far enough... this is a great counterexample. DC v Heller has set us up to be able to overturn lots of existing laws and regulations.

In this case DC v Heller is so clearly applicable that I can't imagine the USDA deciding to argue the point in court.
 

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I'd be interested in seeing if this turns into anything... I accidentally carried into a Federal Forest this weekend also... I thought it was COUNTY land but noticed the Federal signs on the way out... :oops:
 

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swillden said:
One more comment:

To all of the whiners (not so many on this forum, but if you frequent other gun forums, I'm sure you've seen them) who complained about how DC v Heller was useless because it didn't go far enough... this is a great counterexample. DC v Heller has set us up to be able to overturn lots of existing laws and regulations.

In this case DC v Heller is so clearly applicable that I can't imagine the USDA deciding to argue the point in court.
:agree:
 

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bane said:
I'd be interested in seeing if this turns into anything... I accidentally carried into a Federal Forest this weekend also... I thought it was COUNTY land but noticed the Federal signs on the way out... :oops:
That's ok you can carry in a national forest. Just not a national park, and apparently not Wasatch-Cache national forest campgrounds. (Although as has been said I doubt this would hold up very far since at very least it seems to be in contradiction with the federal forest service policy if not against the law.)
 

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I seriously doubt this is the policy of the NATIONAL Forest Service or even the Ranger District. This seems to be the ONLY district in the nation that carries this requirement. It was probably just an overstatement or misstatement and one that needs to be fixed. If they fight it, I highly doubt it will get very high up the chain before someone decides it isn't worth the fight. Here's another FS document outlining how things are SUPPOSED to work.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I suppose I now feel safe enough to report that I indeed took a firearm with me into my campsite and into my tent (when I was in said tent), for self defense purposes. I felt that something was weird about the whole situation, and felt justified in taking my gun with me.

As far as outside of the campsites in this particular ranger district, I believe it's well accepted that you can carry a firearm throughout the forest. I actually saw quite a few shells on the ground (outside the campground).

As for the whiners referenced by Swillden.... I might be one of those. In another thread, I said something about how I would have liked the decision to be stronger on the side of gun rights, but I do admit it does indeed help our cause.
 

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apollosmith said:
Here's another FS document outlining how things are SUPPOSED to work.
I found one line in that document kind of interesting. The second bullet said that hunting on Sunday was illegal. Is that for real? No hunting on Sunday? Why?

ian
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
What about Nunn's park? I was at Nunn's park a few weeks ago and noticed a "no firearms" limitation posted. I don't know if it is a state park, or if it belongs to some other jurisdiction. Anybody know anything about that?

Edit: Nunn's park is in Provo canyon.
 

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ian husford said:
apollosmith said:
Here's another FS document outlining how things are SUPPOSED to work.
I found one line in that document kind of interested. The second bullet said that hunting on Sunday was illegal. Is that for real? No hunting on Sunday? Why?
I looked a bit closer and this only applies to certain counties in West Virginia. This wasn't intended to be presented as the Forest Service rule, but as an example of how their gun policies could/should be written.
 

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Wait, wait - I think I just read myself into confusion...

I can't carry in the wasatch-cache national forrest? I was under then impression I could because the national forrest that butts up to my father in laws land near bear lake is used for hunting. If this is false, then we accidentally carried from Temple Fork to Bear Lake riding a 4 wheeler trail.

But it makes no sense, in the back woods I would totally want to have something on me in case of trouble. It's not like we don't have bears and mountain lions around here, or the occasional rampaging squirrel :lol2:

Or did I read it all wrong? I'm scouring over the wasatch cache forrest site and I'm not seeing anything about rules.
 

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L'attente said:
Wait, wait - I think I just read myself into confusion...

I can't carry in the wasatch-cache national forrest? I was under then impression I could because the national forrest that butts up to my father in laws land near bear lake is used for hunting. If this is false, then we accidentally carried from Temple Fork to Bear Lake riding a 4 wheeler trail.

But it makes no sense, in the back woods I would totally want to have something on me in case of trouble. It's not like we don't have bears and mountain lions around here, or the occasional rampaging squirrel :lol2:

Or did I read it all wrong? I'm scouring over the wasatch cache forrest site and I'm not seeing anything about rules.
No, you can carry in national forests. It is a stupid "campground" rule that is most likely unenforceable.
 

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L'attente said:
I can't carry in the wasatch-cache national forrest?
Yes, you can. The National Forests follow state law, and Utah allows it.

There is this one district of the forest where signs claim to ban guns in their official campgrounds, but their ban doesn't have any support in law or USDA regulation, and is almost certainly invalid. Even if it were valid, it would only apply to the campgrounds.
 

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Oh....shooooooo

Man I was like having a come apart over here thinking how ridiculous it would be. So the campgrounds are okay too, like the ones up Logan Canyon right? What about the smaller Smithfield Canyon that's north of Logan Canyon?
 

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L'attente said:
Oh....shooooooo

Man I was like having a come apart over here thinking how ridiculous it would be. So the campgrounds are okay too, like the ones up Logan Canyon right? What about the smaller Smithfield Canyon that's north of Logan Canyon?
The USDA regulation (which I quoted in a previous post) limits DISCHARGE of firearms within 150 feet of a campground. That's the only limitation.
 

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L'attente said:
What happens if there is a bear attack at your tent in the campground?
Same thing as if you get attacked by a criminal inside city limits, where discharging a firearm is also illegal.

You shoot, and the necessity of self-defense overrides the prohibition on discharge, so it's perfectly legal.
 
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