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Thread: National Park Service Infringing on Lawful Carry

  1. #1
    Regular Member DanM's Avatar
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    National Park Service Infringing on Lawful Carry

    During the last July 4th weekend, I visited Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky. They are going beyond the definition of "federal facility" in 18 USC 930 to prohibit firearms in the cave. I have opened up an inquiry with that park's management on this issue.

    Below is the email trail so far of my inquiry (start at bottom to go chronologically).

    I encourage anyone visiting National Park Service parks where firearms are prohibited beyond what the law defines as "federal facility" to open up their own inquiries with that park's management.

    -------------------------------
    Emails:
    -------------------------------

    From: [DanM] <danm@xxx.com>
    To: Brad_McDougal@nps.gov
    Cc: Bruce_Powell@nps.gov; Wayne_Elliott@nps.gov; Pat_Reed@nps.gov
    Sent: Wed, July 14, 2010
    Subject: Re: Application of 18 USC 930 to Caves

    Mr. McDougal,

    I would like to follow up my recent email with some items pertinent to your
    review of the validity of applying 18 USC 930 to anything other than "a building
    or part thereof".

    The following is from Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area:
    http://www.nps.gov/samo/parkmgmt/upl...a-Firearms.pdf


    [START OF CITATION]
    Definition of Federal Facilities
    Federal law prohibits firearms in appropriately posted federal facilities.
    "Federal facilities" are defined in 18 U.S.C. § 930 (g)(1) as:
    “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.”

    Subject to this provision, a federal facility must meet all three of the
    following criteria:

    1) be a “building or part thereof”. Common definitions of this term are: "[a]
    structure with walls and a roof, esp. a permanent structure," (Black's Law
    Dictionary, 8th ed., 2004). According to one court, the word "building" does not
    include an outside fenced employee parking lot.
    2) the building or part thereof is owned or leased by the federal government
    3) federal employees are regularly present for the purpose of performing their
    official duties; while the statute does not define "regularly" the National Park
    Service views this as including the scheduled, daily presence of NPS employees
    performing official duties.

    Examples of federal facilities are: visitor centers, park administrative office
    buildings, park maintenance offices and workshops, backcountry offices, ranger
    stations, lifeguard kiosks, fee-collection stations. Structures such as covered
    parking garages and covered amphitheaters may qualify as federal facilities.

    Examples of nonfederal facilities: Campfire rings open to the sky, with several
    benches used for evening interpretive talks and parking lots.
    [END OF CITATION]

    Please note that Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area properly
    analyzes the "federal facility" definition to its three criteria (matching what
    I've discussed before), cites a legal dictionary definition for "a building or
    part thereof", and then gives what it considers examples of federal facilities.
    The examples all fit Black's legal definition "[a] structure with walls and a
    roof, esp. a permanent structure". They are all structures with walls and a
    roof, some temporary and some more permanent.

    Caves have "walls" and "roofs", but they and the cave itself as a whole are not
    structures. You have to be 1)"a structure" with 2)"walls and a roof" in order
    to be a "building or part thereof", not only from the perpective of common
    understanding of what a "building" is, but also apparently from the perspective
    of at least one authoritative legal definition of "a building or part thereof".

    Please incorporate this information into your review and internal discussions,
    and I'll be sure to pass on to you further information as I find it.

    Respectfully,
    [DanM]
    Auburn Hills, MI



    ----- Original Message ----
    From: [DanM] <danm@xxx.com>
    To: Pat_Reed@nps.gov; Brad_McDougal@nps.gov
    Cc: Bruce_Powell@nps.gov; Wayne_Elliott@nps.gov
    Sent: Tue, July 13, 2010
    Subject: Re: Application of 18 USC 930 to Caves

    Mr. Reed,

    Thank you very much, sir, for your prompt and detailed reply.

    Mr. McDougal,

    Mr. Reed invites further questions and requests for additional information to be

    addressed to you. I have a need for further information.

    18 USC 930 contains the definition for "federal facility" to be used with
    respect to its application as "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." Thus, there are three elements
    about a facility to be able to call it a "federal facility" for the purposes of
    18 USC 930 and applying that law. The facility must satisfy all of the
    following criteria in the definition:
    --Be a building or part of a building
    --Be owned or leased by the Federal Government
    --Have Federal employees regularly present performing official duties

    At issue is the part specifying "a building or part thereof" and how Mammoth
    Cave is considered "a building or part thereof", thus satisfying all criteria
    necessary to being considered a "federal facility" and having 18 USC 930 apply
    to it. To this question, Mr. Reed states below, and I summarize, the National
    Park Service and the US Solicitor General's Office use the following criteria
    for determining that Mammoth cave is a "federal facility":
    --Secure and controlled access
    --Regular presence of Federal employees performing official duties
    --Listed as an asset under FRP; items of property in the cave are tracked in
    FMSS

    While the second criteria is an element in the definition of "federal facility"
    in 18 USC 930, the other two do not appear in that definition. And the issue in

    question is only how a cave is legitimately considered "a building or part
    thereof". I know what a building or part of a building is, and I am having
    trouble understanding how a cave, even with secure/controlled access and asset
    listing/tracking, is legitimately or legally defined as a building or part of a
    building. Any information you can provide to clear up my confusion on what the
    letter of the law says versus what you are applying it to would be very much
    appreciated.

    Respectfully,
    [DanM]
    Auburn Hills, MI


    ----- Original Message ----
    From: "Pat_Reed@nps.gov" <Pat_Reed@nps.gov>
    To: [DanM] <danm@xxx.com>
    Cc: Bruce_Powell@nps.gov; Brad_McDougal@nps.gov; Wayne_Elliott@nps.gov
    Sent: Tue, July 13, 2010
    Subject: Re: Application of 18 USC 930 to Caves

    Dear Mr. M,

    Thank you for your recent e-mail regarding the firearms prohibitions that
    is currently in place at Mammoth Cave National Park. In regards to your
    question of how the cave is classified as a federal facility under 18 USC
    930, the National Park Service and the U.S. Solicitor General’s Office
    reviewed the following information before determining that the cave fits
    the category of a federal facility:

    All of the entrances into the cave are secured with steel gates or metal
    doors, all of which are secured with specific series of security
    locks. Only authorized government employees are allowed to access
    the cave, and then only at set pre-determined times. Several cave
    entrances have structures constructed at the entrances to protect
    persons and resources within the cave and allow only authorized
    access.

    A large number of Federal employees are stationed within the cave for
    all or a significant portion of their work day. The cave is in
    effect their “work space” and allowing firearms into this work space
    would pose a threat to their safety while on the job.

    The cave is listed as an asset under the Federal Real Property standards
    and all of the sub-surface assets are tracked under the Facility
    Management Software System program to include cave entrance
    structures, gates, solid steel doors, and lock mechanisms.

    These are but a few of the criteria that were utilized in determining that
    the cave falls under the “federal facility” category outlined in 18 USC
    930, and therefore firearms would be prohibited in the cave.

    If you have any further questions or need additional information, please
    feel free to contact our park Law Enforcement Specialist, Brad McDougal at
    (270) 758-2121 or at brad_mcdougal@nps.gov.

    Sincerely,

    Patrick Reed
    Superintendent
    Mammoth Cave National Park
    P.O. Box 7
    Mammoth Cave, KY 42259
    Phone: (270) 758-2183
    Fax: (270) 758-2349
    Email: pat_reed@nps.gov



    ----- Original Message ----
    From: [DanM]<danm@xxx.com>
    To: pat_reed@nps.gov, bruce_powell@nps.gov
    Sent: Tue, July 6, 2010
    Subject: Application of 18 USC 930 to Caves


    Dear Mr. Reed and Mr. Powell,

    During the recent July 4th weekend, I visited Mammoth Cave National Park
    and thoroughly enjoyed it! The employees of this park are a credit to all
    of those who preserve and protect our country's natural treasures and
    resources.

    There was a "Firearms Prohibited" sign at the entrance to Mammoth Cave, so
    I disarmed myself before entering the cave. This sign cites the law, 18
    USC 930. I have subsequently read that law, and it places some
    prohibitions of firearms with respect to "Federal facilities".

    The law conveniently contains its definition of "Federal facility". In 18
    USC 930(g)(1), "Federal facility" is defined as "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."
    Mammoth Cave is not a building or part thereof. It is a cave with some
    man-made structure at its mouth and inside of it, but it is cave
    nonetheless and is not a building or part of a building.

    I am a law-abiding citizen who lawfully carries firearms for self-defense.
    It is important to me to be in compliance with the law, but your sign in
    front of a cave which cites a law which applies to "a building or part
    thereof" confuses me. It appears to be a mis-application of a plain
    reading of 18 USC 930. Would you please share with me how it is that you
    apply 18 USC 930 to a cave?

    I'm sure I'll be visiting Mammoth Cave National Park again in the future,
    and I seek simply to reduce my confusion between what the law says it
    applies to and what you are applying it to. Thank you for your anticipated
    response and, also, your service in maintaining Mammoth Cave National Park
    to such a high standard.

    Kind regards,

    [DanM]
    Auburn Hills, MI

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    This is a good find, and a good fight Dan. I hope you will see it through. A cave is not a building. This is a prime example of someone or some organization trying to hide behind a law or definition, or to try to twist the words thereof into what they are not, in order to subvert the constitutional rights of the people, and trying to create a PFZ where there is none.

    The safety of the employees is dependent upon the people retaining their rights to self defense. Once again, an example of backwards thinking. Perhaps they have been in the cave too long?

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    BTW, not to nitpick, but reading would be easier if the chronological order of the post read from top to bottom.

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    Cool

    I doubt they'll allow open carry in caves in the near future, but I'm open to an open carry event at mammoth caves.

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    Regular Member RenegadeMarine's Avatar
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    It does look like they are trying to stretch the law quite a bit to get it to cover the cave as a "federal building". Also I noticed that they do not consider parking lots as part of a "federal facility". So as I see it we should be safe carrying a firearm in our vehicles in the parking lots of post offices, ss offices, federal banks, etc. Did I read that correctly, what do you guys think?

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    Regular Member Big Boy's Avatar
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    Yes, parking lots are fine. Just not IN TO the buildings.

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    Regular Member Dreamer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stainless1911 View Post
    This is a good find, and a good fight Dan. I hope you will see it through. A cave is not a building.

    It IS a "building" if, as the largest natural cave in the world, it has been developed for use as a gigantic underground bunker as part of the "Continuity of Government" program.

    I mean, it took billions of dollars, nearly two decades of construction, and some ASTOUNDINGLY BS-laden cover stories for them to build the Greenbrier facility in WV.

    It would make perfect sense to just move a bunch of gear, provisions and office supplies into a HUGE hole that's already been dug deep into the ground. I mean, what's not to like?

    This ruling on Mammoth Cave might be a MUCH bigger story than some silly bureaucratic petty power trip....
    Last edited by Dreamer; 07-25-2010 at 02:20 PM.
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    Dan,

    There may be a roadblock for OC'ers on this issue and it's one that will make many upset. (so you get the idea, like you don't already)

    IF there is a building attached to the cave that allows access or entry into said cave, they CAN deny carry within the cave as you would have to pass through their building to access said cave. However, if it is an open entry cave (no attached government building) there is no challenge what so ever that can be made by the National Parks Service and would clearly illustrate that someone's inept rear needs to be fired for such stupidity.

    Likely you'll get this response if no building exists to access the cave:
    Last edited by heresyourdipstickjimmy; 07-26-2010 at 12:09 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by heresyourdipstickjimmy View Post
    Dan,

    There may be a roadblock for OC'ers on this issue and it's one that will make many upset. (so you get the idea, like you don't already)

    IF there is a building attached to the cave that allows access or entry into said cave, they CAN deny carry within the cave as you would have to pass through their building to access said cave. However, if it is an open entry cave (no attached government building) there is no challenge what so ever that can be made by the National Parks Service and would clearly illustrate that someone's inept rear needs to be fired for such stupidity.

    Likely you'll get this response if no building exists to access the cave:
    There is a cafe and bathrooms in at least one of the caves and all of the caves have electricity.

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    My car has electricity and a door, but its not a building, its barely even a car. lol

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    Quote Originally Posted by stainless1911 View Post
    My car has electricity and a door, but its not a building, its barely even a car. lol
    I'm fairly certain mammoth caves bans guns in the buses they use to take customers to the caves.

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    Regular Member Thundar's Avatar
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    This is the sort of fun that we can have . Notice how the plain language "building" does not fit with their desires, so they use alternate criteria to try and weasel around the plain language of the law.

    The real issue for NPS will come when we open carry at the National Mall and the JBTs can do nothing about it.
    He wore his gun outside his pants for all the honest world to see. Pancho & Lefty

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    Regular Member DanM's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by heresyourdipstickjimmy View Post
    IF there is a building attached to the cave that allows access or entry into said cave, they CAN deny carry within the cave as you would have to pass through their building to access said cave.
    That is not the case for Mammoth Cave at the entrance I went through for the NPS-conducted tour I went on.

    However, where that may be the case, I see two lines of advancing gun rights:

    1) A legal opinion or case law which makes clear that the exceptions in 18 USC 930(d) cover lawful carry for self-defense:

    "18 USC 930(d): Subsection (a) shall not apply to -
    . . . (3) the lawful carrying of firearms or other dangerous weapons in a Federal facility incident to hunting or other lawful purposes." (Emphasis added.)

    2) Our legislators amending 18 USC 930 to specifically exempt from prohibition all lawful carry for self-defense, or outright repeal of 18 USC 930.

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    Quote Originally Posted by stainless1911 View Post
    My car has electricity and a door, but its not a building, its barely even a car. lol
    Great courtroom argument there!

    Keep us posted on this cave entry issue.
    Last edited by heresyourdipstickjimmy; 07-26-2010 at 10:19 PM.

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    So they could construct a manned drive-thru ranger station covering every entrance to the park and get around the ban. NOT!
    Last edited by paramedic70002; 07-27-2010 at 04:14 PM.
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    If they have a federal building positioned to block all access to the cave and post the required signs at all entry points to the building then by default the cave will be gun free. Technically, they won't be blocking guns in the cave, just limiting guns in the federal building. You just can't get to the cave without going thru their building.

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    Lot of extra work as finding documents that do not exist is always difficult. But building permits, zoning law applications, should be a no brainer that they didn't follow osha regs, and building permits for a cave. Federal buildings you can also look at sprinkler system regs, fire escapes, lighted stairwells, exposed wiring, If the cave doesn't meet federal standards make them shut it down and bring the cave up to code. Hope they have smarter park rangers at carlsbad, I can't remember anymore if they served alcohol at the tourist trap by the elevators.

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    I like the way you think.

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    Regular Member hopnpop's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoeSparky View Post
    If they have a federal building positioned to block all access to the cave and post the required signs at all entry points to the building then by default the cave will be gun free. Technically, they won't be blocking guns in the cave, just limiting guns in the federal building. You just can't get to the cave without going thru their building.
    Oh, but you CAN! This is the entrance to the cave in question. One doesn't have to pass thru any buildings to enter THIS cave, as they've preserved its "natural" entrance. There are others, such as Diamond Caverns, that can only be entered from a building, but not this one, which by the way, is the largest. The plot thickens.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    I'm wondering how going into a "federal facility" not directly associated with law enforcement or the military would automatically be established as a gun-free zone. Some banks erroneously think that because their FDIC insured, that makes them a "federal facility", but that's been put down in every instance of its attempted application. A visitor center in a national part hardly requires such a prohibition, especially since the carry in the park itself is allowed, and since the visitor center and the cave are part of the park, the "federal facility" rule is (or should be) not applicable.

    I'm not a lawyer, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.

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    Stopped by a Department of Homeland Severity facility.

    Saw lots of claptrap about DHS, USCG, "military"(spit) and No Trespassing.

    THERE WAS NOT AN AMERICAN FLAG TO BE SEEN!

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    Quote Originally Posted by VFORVENDETTA View Post
    What about a bank that has been taken over by the FDIC? It's happened a few hundred times in the last few years.
    Still not a "federal facility".

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    Quote Originally Posted by jsimmons View Post
    I'm wondering how going into a "federal facility" not directly associated with law enforcement or the military would automatically be established as a gun-free zone.
    Because the law says so. 18 USC 930

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    FDIC does not equal a federal reserve bank. FCIC is basically an insurance policy.
    I've had this argument before. Most recently with a little dingbat manager at the local Krogers. They have a bank inside. I don't shop there anymore. A shame really, I remember when the property they built the place on was trees and grass. They built the place pretty fast too, I remember the first few weeks after the grand opening, watching the sparrows fly around inside the store. They got shut in, as the building was finished.

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    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federal_Reserve_System

    According to the board of governors of the Federal Reserve, "It is not 'owned' by anyone and is 'not a private, profit-making institution'. Instead, it is an independent entity within the government, having both public purposes and private aspects.

    http://www.federalreserveonline.org/
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