FIND GUN LAWS BY STATE

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About the author
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Bryan L. Ciyou is a trial and appellate attorney at the Indianapolis law firm of Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. He earned his BA with distinction and graduated through the honors program, along with his JD,... Read More

Federal Property and Lands

I. Introduction

As a general rule, firearms are prohibited in federal facilities, which by extension include federal property, at least to some degree.  Different types of federal properties have different penal or other rules that might impact reciprocal carry (yes, there can be reciprocal carry on federal lands, such as National Parks). Understanding the character and nature of the properties and being able to determine the classification they fit into is the key to lawful compliance with reciprocal carry.

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II. Definition

Most federal facilities sit on federal lands (which may be owned, leased, or rented). There is an open question as to where the lands begin and end relative to the federal facility, an example being National Parks discussed herein. Does the federal land begin/end at the building or parking lot? Clearly, within the federal facility, it is a criminal act to carry a handgun, and there is no provision made for state permits or reciprocity.

Under the U.S. Code, “federal facility” is defined:

“(g)(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.”

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III. Penal Provision

Under federal law, a person who knowingly possesses or causes to be present a firearm or other dangerous weapon at a federal facility, or attempts to do so, shall be fined and/or imprisoned for not more than one year. It is an enhanced crime and level of punishment if the firearm or dangerous weapon is used in the commission of a crime or if any person is killed as a result of violation of this provision.

This would inherently include a handgun carried in a state under reciprocity where federal property is located within a state. There is federal property in every state. There is one exception that might apply in the course of reciprocal carry, namely hunting. In fact, this same U.S. Code provision goes on to except the lawful carrying of firearms or other dangerous weapons in a Federal facility incident to hunting or other lawful purpose.

Hunting Seasons vs. Other Times.  Why and how this gets complicated is explained by an example.  Take a given parcel of land that is federal property. During hunting season, a non-resident may hunt on this parcel and otherwise lawfully carry throughout non-excluded places in the reciprocal state. However, when it is not hunting season, this is likely criminal trespass and violation of the federal prohibition on carrying on federal lands, unless it is a National Park or Wildlife Refuge and the state allows this as discussed below.

As should be apparent by review in the next section, it is sometimes very difficult to determine what constitutes a federal facility. There are thousands of such places in every state.

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IV. Conspicuous Posting

However, under the U.S. Code, it is required that notice be conspicuously posted at each public entrance to the federal facility that possession of firearms and dangerous weapons is prohibited.  For this reason, a person may not be convicted of this offense if such notice is not posted, unless the defendant had actual notice of this prohibition.

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V. Conclusion

No firearms are allowed in federal facilities, at least by civilians. Therefore, the distinctions between handguns, long guns, and reciprocity agreements are not applicable. Firearms are barred.  The rule is fuzzier as it relates to certain federal lands. The key is advanced thought, research and planning in order to stay compliant.

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FIND GUN LAWS BY STATE

Table of Contents

About the author
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Bryan L. Ciyou is a trial and appellate attorney at the Indianapolis law firm of Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. He earned his BA with distinction and graduated through the honors program, along with his JD,... Read More