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Thread: Gotcha at VA National Cemetary

  1. #1
    Regular Member CitizenJohn's Avatar
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    Gotcha at VA National Cemetary

    Don't let this gotcha get ya: As I drove into the Willamette VA National Cemetery in Portland, Oregon I was immediately confronted with a firearms prohibited on premises sign with the reference USC, Title 18. Well, there isn't anyplace close where I could park my car and lock my gun up (I'm a CPL holder) in order to walk onto the premises unarmed. Besides, the cemetery is 270 acres. So, I left and will have to plan my visit another day and go unarmed. I researched the USC and sho-nuff ... no firearms allowed in VA National Cemeteries for the average citizen just packing for personal security.

    ADDENDUM TO ORIGINAL POST (ABOVE)
    18 USC 930 (USC TITLE 18, PART 1, CHAPTER 44, SECTION 930) – “Possession of firearms and dangerous weapons in Federal facilities” describes the prohibition of firearms in the cemetery buildings (except for LEO’s, military personnel, etc). and has some ambiguous language concerning [lawful carry for lawful purposes by other persons]. Ambiguities are decided by judges and juries and recorded as case law. I don’t know of any case law that would support regular citizens’ lawful carry in a federal facility.
    Excerpts follows:

    930: Possession of firearms and dangerous weapons in Federal facilities (see end note 1)
    (a) Except as provided in subsection (d) [exemption for LEO’s, etc.], whoever knowingly possesses or causes to be present a firearm or other dangerous weapon in a Federal facility (other than a Federal court facility) [restricted elsewhere], or attempts to do so, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 1 year, or both.
    (g) As used in this section:
    (1) The term ‘‘Federal facility’’ means a building or part thereof owned or leased by the Federal Government, where Federal employees are regularly present for the purpose of performing their official duties.
    (2) The term ‘‘dangerous weapon’’ means a weapon, device, instrument, material, or substance, animate or inanimate, that is used for, or is readily capable of, causing death or serious bodily injury, except that such term does not include a pocket knife with a blade of less than 21⁄2 inches in length.

    The language that we’re interested in is contained in the CFR (as revised 7-1-13) pursuant to the USC:

    38 CFR 1.218 (CFR TITLE 38, CHAPTER 1, PART 1, SECTION 1.218) – “Security and Law Enforcement at VA Facilities” describes the prohibition of firearms anywhere on the cemetery property (except for LEO’s, military personnel, etc.).
    Excerpts follows:

    1.218: Security and law enforcement at VA facilities (see end note 1)
    (a) Authority and rules of conduct.
    Pursuant to 38 U.S.C. 901 [authority to prescribe rules], the following rules and regulations apply at all property under the charge and control of VA (and not under the charge and control of the General Services Administration) and to all persons entering in or on such property. The head of the facility is charged with the responsibility for the enforcement of these rules and regulations and shall cause these rules and regulations to be posted in a conspicuous place on the property.
    (13) Weapons and explosives. No person while on property shall carry firearms, other dangerous or deadly weapons, or explosives, either openly or concealed, except for official purposes. (see end note 2)
    (b) Schedule of offenses and penalties.
    Conduct in violation of the rules and regulations set forth in paragraph (a) of this section subjects an offender to arrest and removal from the premises. Whomever shall be found guilty of violating these rules and regulations while on any property under the charge and control of VA is subject to a fine as stated in the schedule set forth herein or, if appropriate, the payment of fixed sum in lieu of appearance (forfeiture of collateral) as may be provided for in rules of the United States District Court. Violations included in the schedule of offenses and penalties may also subject an offender to a term of imprisonment of not more than six months, as may be determined appropriate by a magistrate or judge of the United States District Court:
    (37) Possession of firearms, carried either openly or concealed, whether loaded or unloaded (except by Federal or State law enforcement officers on official
    business), $500.

    END NOTES:
    1. The Willamette National Cemetery is a VA National Cemetery as listed with the National Cemetery Administration.
    2. There are of course provisions in this section that exempts LEO’s, Honor Guards, etc. but not the regular citizen, OC or CC.

    --END--
    Last edited by CitizenJohn; 09-27-2013 at 05:47 PM. Reason: USC - CFR references

  2. #2
    Regular Member DamonK's Avatar
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    Re: Gotcha at VA National Cemetary

    So, don't go in the buildings...

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    Regular Member CitizenJohn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DamonK View Post
    So, don't go in the buildings...
    Fine, but the CFR also restricts "entering in or on [the property]" which means entering anywhere on the grounds.

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    Moderator / Administrator Grapeshot's Avatar
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    VA regulations 38 CFR 1.218 prohibit the carrying of firearms (either openly or concealed), explosives or other dangerous or deadly weapons while on VA property, except for official purposes, such as military funeral honors. Possession of firearms on any property under the charge and control of VA is prohibited. Offenders may be subject to a fine, removal from the premises, or arrest.
    You will not rise to the occasion; you will fall back on your level of training. Archilochus, 650 BC

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    The OP should check into the laws more carefully .. if he missed that sign for some reason, he would have been subject to arrest.

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    Regular Member CitizenJohn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by davidmcbeth View Post
    The OP should check into the laws more carefully .. if he missed that sign for some reason, he would have been subject to arrest.
    You are right. Ignorance of the law is not considered an affirmative defense. However, it seems to me that one of the objectives of this website is to heighten the awareness level of its readers concerning the law. That was my intention on this post.

    It is also interesting to note that there exists a requirement in the relevant USC (18.930 (h)) that places the responsibility on the government to provide adequate signage concerning weapon prohibition on federal property and prohibits prosecution of the offender if the signage is not “posted conspicuously at each public entrance.” Such was not the case in my instance though and the conspicuously placed sign did deter my entrance.

    Something I did not include in my original post was that I called the VA Federal Police in Portland, Oregon and asked about the USC reference. I was told by the officer, “So long as I had a CHL (Oregon's CPL), not to worry about it. Just keep your weapon concealed and you will be fine. The only concern we have is nut cases that would shoot up the place or hurt someone.” Interesting comment.
    Last edited by CitizenJohn; 11-14-2013 at 05:13 PM.
    I carry a gun because I can't carry a cop.

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    Never accept legal instruction/advice/information from the police as they are not bound to the truth or to your best interests. Consult your personal attorney, he is bound by his canons of ethics.
    I am responsible for my writing, not your understanding of it.

  8. #8
    Regular Member CitizenJohn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nightmare View Post
    Never accept legal instruction/advice/information from the police as they are not bound to the truth or to your best interests. Consult your personal attorney, he is bound by his canons of ethics.
    Good advise. IMO, that same Federal Officer would arrest the offender in a heartbeat if called to the premises on a "person with a gun" complaint, regardless of CPL status.
    I carry a gun because I can't carry a cop.

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