August 31, 2012

BLM declares Burning Man Second Amendment-free zone


The Bureau of Land Management has declared the Burning Man “radical self-expression/self-reliance" community “experiment” in northern Nevada’s Black Rock Desert a temporary weapons-free zone, GunLeaders Blog reported today. Citing a Department of the Interior “Notice of Temporary Closure and Temporary Restrictions of Specific Uses on Public Lands in Pershing County, NV” appearing in the Federal Register Volume 77, Number 157 (Tuesday, August 14, 2012), the edict mandates “temporary closures and temporary restrictions will be in effect from August 13, 2012 to September 17, 2012.

Proclaiming its authority under 43 CFR 8364.1., and issued by Gene Seidlitz, District Manager, Winnemucca District, the restriction notice declared “The possession of any weapon is prohibited except weapons within motor vehicles passing through the public closure area, without stopping, on the west or east playa roads.

“The prohibitions above shall not apply to county, state, tribal, and Federal law enforcement personnel, or any person authorized by Federal law to possess a weapon," the notice continued. "‘Art projects' that include weapons and are sanctioned by BRC LLC will be permitted after obtaining authorization from the BLM authorized officer.”

“Any person who violates the above rules and restrictions may be tried before a United States Magistrate and fined no more than $1,000, imprisoned for no more than 12 months, or both,” the notice warned, adding “Such violations may also be subject to the enhanced fines provided for at 18 U.S.C. 3571.”

Whether this upsets Burning Man organizers and participants, and there does not appear to be any mention of weapons in the almost-anything-goes gathering’s “rules and regulations,” remains unknown, but there are larger principles at stake here.

First, it’s not like crimes of violence, particularly sexual assault and rape are unheard of there, and Mr. Seidlitz’s edict is silent on any responsibility or duty to protect those he demands be defenseless. His notice does admit “Actions by a few participants at previous events have resulted in law enforcement and public safety incidents similar to those observed in urban areas of similar-size populations,” documenting that he knows people he is disarming may be exposed to physical danger.

Second, where does this guy get off, dictating away the right to keep and bear arms? Who first decided there was a “need” to do this? Who authorized it? What is the approval process? Did it have to go beyond a district manager? What other federal agencies think they have this power? Can any bureaucrat declare himself the boss of you, or does one need to be a certain pay grade?

“If they (think they) can ban guns for Burning Man, essentially a private festival that as far as I can tell has no specific rules of this manner, then DOI can do it for pretty much any reason they want,” Dave Yates, co-founder of GunLeaders Blog observed to Gun Rights Examiner by email.

Indeed. If unaccountable self-anointed masters are allowed to get away with arbitrary rulings, if their demands for kneejerk authority over our unalienable rights are tolerated, then what is to stop them from declaring any place off limits, and extending the time period to whatever interval they choose, that is, what is to stop them from effectively burning the Bill of Rights?