Lawmakers have proposed a bill that threatens to disarm wildlife refuge law enforcement officers, threatening both their safety and the safety of refuge visitors. If enacted, the Freedom from Over-Criminalization and Unjust Seizures Act of 2012 (FOCUS Act) would take away the authority of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service law enforcement officers to be able to carry guns.
The purpose of the FOCUS Act is to decriminalize wildlife related crimes enforced under the Lacey Act. For more than a century the Lacey Act has prevented poaching wildlife, importing illegal plants and wildlife, and the spread of invasive species. The FOCUS Act seeks to decriminalize the law that prevents wildlife from being traded illegally in the United States and helps stop the illegal importation of invasive species like the Burmese python.
The Lacey Act is a statute that gives the Fish and Wildlife Service (as well as NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) the authority to carry a firearm. By decriminalizing this law, it would prohibit the law enforcement officers that patrol our national wildlife refuges from carrying a gun.
The unintended consequences of decriminalizing the Lacey Act are sweeping and put Refuge Law Enforcement officers and the general public in great danger. Many Refuge System law enforcement officers come in contact with people carrying firearms on a daily basis. While the vast majority of these people are law-abiding citizens, not all have the best intentions. A Refuge Law Enforcement officer could be putting themselves and others at great risk when confronting an armed individual in violation of Refuge rules and regulations.
We need your help to ensure Federal Wildlife Officers on our national wildlife refuges and elsewhere in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are able to carry firearms to do their jobs. Join our Refuge Action Network to learn more about how you can help keep our national wildlife refuges safe.