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Nesbitt v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Issue:

Whether the total ban by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers of the possession of functional firearms for self-defense on Corps-managed lands violates the Second Amendment?

Plaintiffs:

Elizabeth E. Nesbitt (née Morris) and Alan C. Baker

Defendants:

U.S. Army Corps Of Engineers; John McHugh, Secretary of the Army; Lieutenant General Thomas Bostick, Commanding General and Chief of Engineers; Colonel John S. Kem, Northwestern Division Commander; and Lieutenant Colonel Andrew D. Kelly, Walla Walla District Commander and District Engineer

Court:

U.S. Court of Appeals of the Ninth Circuit
Oral argument at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

The Corps of Engineers is the nation’s largest provider of water-based outdoor recreation.  It administers 422 lake and river projects in 43 states, spanning 12 million acres, encompassing 55,000 miles of shoreline and 4,500 miles of trails, and including 90,000 campsites and 3,400 boat launch ramps.  Waters under its control constitute 33 percent of all U.S. freshwater fishing.                    

Ms. Morris was issued an emergency license by the Nez Perce County Sheriff to carry a concealed handgun in 2012 due to threats and physical attacks against her by a former neighbor.  She regularly carries a handgun for self-defense.  She uses Corps-administered public lands near the Snake River in Lewiston, Idaho, to boat with friends, regularly walks the Corps-administered paths in the area with her dog and/or her family, and must travel across Corps-administered public lands to reach Hells Gate State Park.                        

Mr. Baker is a NRA-Certified Home Firearm Safety, Personal Protection In The Home, Rifle, Pistol, and Shotgun Instructor, and also a Utah Concealed Firearms Instructor. He is licensed to carry a concealed handgun in Idaho, Utah, Oregon, and Arizona and regularly carries a handgun for self-defense.  A life-long outdoorsman, he regularly recreates on Corps-managed lands in Idaho, including Dworshak Dam and Reservoir on the North Fork Clearwater River.

Because Corps of Engineer regulations ban functional firearms, even while camped in tents, Ms. Morris and Mr. Baker are subject to criminal prosecution if they exercise their Second Amendment rights.  The Corps of Engineers did not respond to requests from MSLF seeking exemptions from its firearm ban for Ms. Morris and Mr. Baker.  On August 5, 2013, Ms. Morris and Mrs. Baker filed a complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief and a motion for a preliminary injunction asking the district court to immediately end enforcement of the firearms ban. 

On September 5, 2013, federal defendants filed an opposition to the motion for a preliminary injunction.  Ms. Morris and Mr. Baker filed their reply on September 23, 2013.  On November 1, 2013, federal defendants filed a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction and a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim.  On November 25, 2013, Ms. Morris and Mr. Baker filed an opposition to the motion to dismiss. On December 15, 2013, federal defendants filed a reply regarding their motion to dismiss.

On January 7, 2014, a hearing was held regarding the motion for preliminary injunction and the motion to dismiss.  On January 10, 2014, the court issued a memorandum decision and order denying the motion to dismiss and granting the motion for preliminary injunction.  On February 27, 2014, the court entered a scheduling order, setting a briefing schedule for motions for summary judgment.  On March 19, 2014, federal defendants filed their answer to the complaint.  On April 22, 2014, federal defendants filed their Administrative Record.  On May 19, 2014, federal defendants filed their motion for summary judgment.  On June 19, 2014, Ms. Nesbitt and Mr. Baker filed a cross-motion for summary judgment.  On July 25, 2014, federal defendants filed a response/reply and, on August 21, 2014, Ms. Nesbitt and Mr. Baker filed a reply.  Oral arguments on the pending cross-motions for summary judgment were held on August 27, 2014, in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.

On October 13, 2014, the district court granted summary judgment in favor of Ms. Nesbitt and Mr. Baker and denied defendants’ motion for summary judgment.  In so doing, the district court held that 36 C.F.R. § 327.13 violates the Second Amendment and therefore is unconstitutional.  The district court also enjoined defendants from enforcing the unconstitutional regulation on Corps-managed property within Idaho.  On December 10, 2014, federal defendants filed a notice of appeal.   On April 17, 2015, federal defendants filed their opening brief.  On July 8, 2015, Ms. Nesbitt and Mr. Baker filed their answer brief.  On August 12, 2015, the Corps filed its reply brief. 


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    Mar 3, 2017
    An Idaho woman who is barred from carrying a functional firearm for self-defense when she visits vast federal recreational facilities today learned of the Trump administration’s intention to codify her victory before an Idaho federal district court, which ruled the federal government agency’s ban on firearms violates the Second Amendment, at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
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    Jul 15, 2015
    An Idaho woman who is barred from carrying a functional firearm for self-defense when she visits vast federal recreational facilities today drew the support of three friends of the court in her defense of her victory before an Idaho federal district court, which ruled the federal government’s ban on firearms violates the Second Amendment, at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
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    Jul 8, 2015
    An Idaho woman who is barred from carrying a functional firearm for self-defense when she visits vast federal recreational facilities today defended her victory before an Idaho federal district court, which ruled the federal government’s ban on firearms violates the Second Amendment, at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
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    Oct 14, 2014
    An Idaho woman who is barred from carrying a functional firearm for self-defense when she visits federal recreational facilities prevailed today with the ruling of an Idaho federal district court that the federal government ban on firearms violates the Second Amendment.
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    Aug 22, 2014
    An Idaho woman who is barred from carrying a functional firearm for self-defense if she visits federal recreational facilities today filed a final brief urging an Idaho federal district court to issue a summary judgment in her favor.
  • Idaho Woman Seeks Final Ruling In Second Amendment Lawsuit

    Jun 19, 2014
    An Idaho woman who is barred from carrying a functional firearm for self-defense whenever she visits federal recreational facilities today urged an Idaho federal district court to issue a summary judgment in her favor.
  • Idaho Woman Granted Injunction In Second Amendment Lawsuit

    Jan 10, 2014
    An Idaho woman who is barred from carrying a functional firearm for self-defense when she visits federal recreational facilities today won her motion forbidding enforcement of the ban and defeated federal lawyers’ efforts to dismiss her lawsuit.
  • Idaho Woman Heard In Second Amendment Lawsuit

    Jan 7, 2014
    The case involving an Idaho woman who is barred from carrying a functional firearm for self-defense when she visits federal recreational facilities was argued today in Idaho federal district court as federal lawyers sought to dismiss her lawsuit and her lawyer moved for a preliminary injunction.
  • Idaho Woman Defends For Second Amendment Lawsuit

    Nov 26, 2013
    DENVER, CO. An Idaho woman who is barred from carrying a functional firearm for self-defense when she visits federal recreational facilities today opposed efforts by federal lawyers to dismiss her lawsuit.
  • Idaho Woman Defends Need for Injunction On Guns Rights

    Sep 23, 2013
    An Idaho woman who is barred from carrying a functional firearm for self-defense when she visits federal recreational facilities today responded to arguments by federal lawyers that she may not obtain an injunction to protect her Second Amendment rights.


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