Washington, D.C. – Idaho Senator Mike Crapo this week defended against efforts to prohibit citizens from bearing arms on lands owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and advanced legislation to improve fish habitat during the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee’s consideration of S. 659, the Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2015.
The entire bill passed the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee by a vote of 12-8 and will now be in line for consideration by the full Senate.
Crapo helped defeat an amendment offered during consideration of S. 659 that would have stricken a provision containing his legislation to protect the Second Amendment rights of Americans on lands managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps). The Corps currently bans the possession of most firearms on lands managed by the agency.
Crapo fought back against arguments that a prohibition on carrying firearms on Corps lands is necessary to protect Corps facilities and projects. Crapo said such arguments are distractions, adding that the language in the bill allows the Corps to make that distinction without infringing on the American’s Second Amendment rights.
“The fact is the language in the bill does allow the Corps to protect infrastructure without infringing on the rights of Americans to bear arms for hunting, recreation and for self-defense,” said Crapo. “Further, this language says that the Corps current policy of saying that all of its land is closed unless it is specifically allowed to be opened through a permit received from the head of the Corps is not the right way to approach this issue. The Corp’s approach has already been ruled unconstitutional by a court of law and this bill will protect the rights of law-abiding land users to bear arms when recreating.”
Crapo also offered his amendment titled the National Fish Habitat Conservation Through Partnerships Act in the measure, which was accepted unanimously. Crapo’s amendment will codify in law the National Fish Habitat Board and National Fish Habitat Partnerships. Both programs were established through a state-led, public-private partnership and housed within the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and are critical to activities enjoyed by outdoor enthusiasts. The partnerships are comprised of representatives of federal, state and local agencies, conservation and sportsmen's organizations, private landowners and the business sector. These partnerships have already led to over 340 successful conservation projects in 46 states benefitting fish habitat and anglers throughout the country. His amendment enjoys wide support from the American Sportfishing Association, Associated Fish and Wildlife Agencies, Trout Unlimited and The Nature Conservancy.