Sunday, July 18, 2010

Nevada State Parks Sued Over Gun Restrictions

In what by my count is the fifth post-McDonald complaint to be filed in Federal court, the Mountain States Legal Foundation filed a lawsuit in the US District Court for Nevada, Northern Division, last week over firearm restrictions in Nevada State Parks.

According to a story in the Las Vegas Sun, 
Nevada code bans possession of a firearm in state parks unless the firearm is unloaded and inside a vehicle, or the gun owner is carrying the weapon in conformity with a state concealed weapons permit, or the gun owner is hunting in an authorized area.
The plaintiff in the lawsuit is Al Baker, a resident of Boise, ID and a law student at the University of Idaho. Mr. Baker is a NRA-certified Home Firearms Safety and Basic Pistol Instructor as well as a Utah-certified Concealed Firearms Instructor. He holds concealed carry permits for the states of Idaho, Oregon, and Utah and is an avid outdoorsman. Unfortunately for Mr. Baker, the State of Nevada does not have concealed carry reciprocity with any of those states.

In April, Mr. Baker applied for a special use permit for a group campsite at the Wild Horse State Recreation Area north of Elko, NV. His application stated that he planned to possess a loaded firearm in his tent for self-protection. At the beginning of June, he got a response from the State Recreation Area.
"Mr. Baker has been advised that, if he brings a firearm for personal protection, he will be in violation of state law," the legal foundation said.

"Nevada’s ban on firearms prohibits Mr. Baker from possessing a functional firearm when he is camping in Nevada state parks. He must leave his firearm in his car, unloaded at all times, even in the case of a self-defense emergency. If he were to discharge a firearm in self-defense, that action would also violate the ban. The penalty for violating the Nevada firearms ban is six months imprisonment, or a $1,000 fine, or both," the foundation said.
The lawsuit, Baker v. Biaggi et al, seeks to enjoin the Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the State Park System from enforcing the ban on "functional firearms", i.e. a loaded gun, and the prohibition on defensive discharge of a firearm within the parks.

This lawsuit is unique in that it argues that a tent is a temporary residence and that the same Second Amendment right that protects the right to a firearm in a residence should apply here. If the Court accepts this argument, then the Second Amendment protections should also apply to stays in hotels, motels, and other lodging as well as a RV in a campground.

The regulation on possession of a firearm in state parks across the county is varied. States such as North Carolina totally forbid it. Other states such as Tennessee allow it with a concealed carry permit but still outlaw the discharge of a firearm. Then there are states have no restrictions on either.

Judge Edward Reed, Jr. has been assigned to this case. He was appointed to the Court by Jimmy Carter and has been in Senior Status since 1992. Given his age, at least 85, I'm surprised that it was assigned to him.

You can read the complaint below.

Baker v. Biaggi Et Al - Complaint  

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