Policy Reminder: Possession of Firearms or Other Weapons

Safety of our youth, volunteers, and employees is a key priority for all of us. As a reminder, employees are not permitted to carry or possess firearms, knives, or other weapons while on the premises of any BSA facility, in BSA buildings, in vehicles parked on BSA property, or on any other BSA property.

In addition, the carrying or possessing of personal firearms at Scouting activities, unless specifically authorized by law or by the BSA, is also prohibited. This prohibition also applies to employees who are licensed to carry weapons, except where such prohibition has been specifically precluded under state law. This prohibition does not apply to employees who have obtained prior written authorization to do so.

Any employee disregarding or violating this policy will be subject to immediate termination.

45 Responses to Policy Reminder: Possession of Firearms or Other Weapons

  1. Ray Brauer says:

    So a youth, with a Totin-Chip, can carry a knife at camp but a BSA employee can not?

  2. Mitch Johnson says:

    This “policy” is the very definition of safety not being a priority. Guess I missed the part where the BSA is providing me with a personal armed security guard to protect me while I am on the job. National policy should be to defer to State and local laws.

    • Owen says:

      You did not specify what your position is. Are you the registrar, DE, Council Exec? And if you are one of these positions why would you need protection to work in your council office? Do you feel insecure in the workplace? If so you need to report it to L&I as a hostile environment. If you work as one of the Rangers on your council property you would have the written ok to protect the property.

      • Mitch Johnson says:

        Example: I might be walking out of a school, at night, in a bad neighborhood, by myself, with a $1000 cash on me, after I sent out a flyer to 1000 people saying we are having a meeting and taking up money.

        I could argue for right to carry more, but at minimum tell me why I should not be able to have a firearm in my personal vehicle in accordance with the state law where I live?

  3. Rick Chapman says:

    So by policy I should tell my employees that they cannot protect themselves driving to or from work with a firearm in their vehicle. Shameful.

  4. David Capers says:

    So all BSA property’s are “gun free zones”. Those have proven to do nothing but safe zones for mentally disabled to go and hurt innocent and helpless individuals.

  5. Larry Bethers says:

    Having worked on many camp staffs what will happen when a member is caught with a pocket knife. Will everyone be fired and camp close? So many pocket knives are used for scouting.

  6. Glenn Overby says:

    According to this policy statement I cannot even carry the pocketknife I use regularly to open cartons in the Scout Shop. It is also impermissible for me to take an active part in any event on our council’s new shooting range, notwithstanding my registration as Scoutmaster as well as employee.

  7. 2745scout says:

    This may work in the other 49 states, but not in the 49th state. Read on.

    Sunday, July 24, 2005

    ANCHORAGE – A 15-year-old boy from Texas who was attacked by a grizzly bear along Resurrection Pass was recovering Saturday at an Anchorage hospital from bites to his legs and arms.

    The attack occurred Friday while Alex Benson and his Boy Scout troop were wrapping up a 26-mile hike from Hope to Cooper Landing.

    Benson apparently startled the brown bear on the trail, just half an hour from the end of the hike.
    Benson was bitten at least twice before the bear ran off. The boy was left with a shredded arm and puncture wounds in his leg.

    “I looked up and there was this bear and he looked at me and I said ‘I’m going to die,”‘ Benson said from his hospital bed.

    Aaron Chapman said he rounded a corner and saw Benson standing in front of a grizzly bear just before the bear attacked.

    The bear was likely scared off by one of the troop leaders who was carrying a gun and fired several shots into the air. The attack lasted less than 10 seconds, the Scouts said.

    Benson was among two dozen 13- to 16-year-old boys and their fathers who left Texas last week for the Boy Scout trip to Alaska.

    Trip leader and former Alaska resident Paul Fletcher said he taught the boys and adults on bear safety. Three fathers carried handguns and four boys carried bear spray on the trek, Fletcher said.

    Resurrection Pass Trail on the Kenai Peninsula is bear country. A man survived a mauling two years ago on the Russian River about five miles away.

  8. Justin Judd says:

    This policy needs a LOT more clarification.

    As a Council Store Employee there are two activities I do almost daily that use “tools” that can be viewed as weapons and put me in violation of this policy. the first is opening mail with a letter opener. The second is from using a box cutter to open store deliveries.

    For that matter, do I have to get an authorization letter to use a razor blade to clean the Council Office windows or shave when at camp?

  9. Andrew Herold says:

    “Be Prepared…but not really”

    I was fortunate enough to have strong adult leaders as mentors growing up in the Scouts. They taught us that a knife is a tool and not a weapon. What happened to common sense? Anyone can walk into the Scout Shop in the same building and purchase a knife.

  10. Kris R. Williams says:

    Does this include Council Rangers

  11. Rosemary Bauer says:

    Agree with Ray- never heard this before regarding pocket knives. Think almost all scouters carry one – paid & unpaid. IS there some clarification available?

  12. Rick Chapman says:

    So by policy I should tell my employees that they cannot protect themselves driving to or from work with a firearm in their vehicle. How does that make them safe?

  13. Seriously?!?! In an organization that is devoted to teaching youth about knife safety we can’t have a Camp Ranger carrying a swiss army knife? Oddly enough it doesn’t specify axes, so thankfully a Ranger can still chop down a tree in camp, he just can’t pick up a stick and whittle on it.

    And because of the insane way this policy was written, a Camp Ranger could be fired simply for going on to the camp’s rifle/shotgun range and “carrying” a .22 back to the storage area.

    Does anyone with any common sense review these policies before publishing them? If it said you can’t possess your own personal firearms at the office that would be one thing, but to say knives and ‘firearms’ in general leaves the whole thing so open as to be worthless.

    Hopefully someone will review this and realize they made a serious mistake and edit this policy.

  14. Rob MacLuan says:

    Sounds like TSA not BSA. Knives, as in “pocket” knives? Really? As Mr. Brauer mentioned… We teach 3rd graders how to use knives as tools safely and, once they show a reasonable level of understanding, they can carry a knife; but I can’t. I think we need to be a bit more specific in the definition of “knife” as “weapon”. Many things can be used as a weapon. Looking forward to a bit of clarification here.

  15. Andy Price says:

    This is an extremely poorly written policy that our council threw out and replaced with a realistic policy. The replacement does not infringe on individuals’ firearm rights as defined by federal and state laws while protecting the assets of the council and maintaining employees’ rights to self protection. Our board and staff had major concerns about the original policy.

  16. Jim Hunter says:

    As a Scoutmaster, none employee, the restriction of knives make me wonder how camp staff can do their jobs. A ranger at Philmont can not carry a knife!, a camp ranger!, a Brown Sea staffer teaching knife and axe, knots etc!

    A bowie knife or other excessively large knife, makes sense but a pocket knife!

  17. Tom Petrik says:

    Wording. Summer camp staffs are employees of the council.are you really saying ALL employees cannot? Or are you saying full time employees cannot? Or do you really think every summer camp will operate with its staff not carrying a knife to cut rope, cut a meal when the dining hall is short utensils, remove stuck brass from firearms, make bowstrings of rope?

    Need I go on?

  18. Brendan Cronin says:

    Prohibiting an employee from having a firearm in the trunk of a car is a direct violation of the laws in Texas and many other states.

  19. Come on…let’s apply some “Common Scouter Sense” here. The intent of the Chief’s message to the field should be clear — not working for the BSA, allow me to translate this into simple American English for those who could not translate the Chief’s message in their brains.

    Simply stated, if you carry a firearm or anything deemed lethal by the majority of us (this includes knives or other WEAPONS), on any BSA-controlled or owned property or facility to include the parking lots of those properties or facilities, you will be fired.

    A pocket knife is NOT a WEAPON. A handaxe or knife sold at our Scout Shops(tm) are NOT WEAPONS. Archery or rifle range equipment are NOT WEAPONS. That’s NOT what he’s talking about. If he was, he might as well shut down all of the BSA’s facilties because they use box cutters, envelope cutters in their daily interactions; and they sell knifes of all kinds along with hand axes to those wanting such tools.

    As some of us are painfully aware, it is this “attitude” toward treating EVERYTHING as a potential weapon which got the Transportation Security Administration in a fix until cooler and “common sense” heads prevailed. Let’s not go down that trail, but stay on the higher one, gang.

    The Chief’s message was intended to keep workplace violence and the threat of such actions from occuring on BSA owned or leased properties. It was designed to protect ALL of us, not just his employees or those who visit the BSA’s national/regional or local offices or our camps.

    Yes, the Chief’s post should have also defined “weapons” for the clueless among us…but to ME the message is clear: don’t bring a weapon to any Scouting activity, and certainly do not bring them onto any Scouting properties, owned or leased. They are not welcomed and if you’re an employee, you won’t have a job after they are discovered.

    I carry a BSA pocket knife (one of the red “MacGyver types”) with all of the blades and tools with me most days. However, when I get on a plane or have to go through a detector to gain access to a building or facility, I either keep the pocket knife in the checked luggage, the trunk of my car or van or leave it at home.

    It is NOT a weapon and the common person among us don’t consider it as one. Let’s use a little “Common Scouter Sense” here…


    • Tom Petrik says:

      But mike, while I could interpret anything I want from it, the wording, as presented here, is poor. Much like the G2SS stuff we deal with in other locations….

    • Sam Dunkin says:

      I’m reasonably sure we’d all like to be able to use our common sense, but we’ve run into too (way too) many who don’t want to allow us to. Most of us have knives of various kinds and sizes, and know that,generally, straight knives, other than kitchen knives, are not normally carried or used in camp (a noticeable percentage of Scouts in OA do seem to like carrying such knives at OA events), and don’t. This sounds too much like an absolute ban on carrying a knife while scouting.

    • Andy Price says:

      Mr. Walton, when you put a policy into writing and the local board adopts it, it becomes legally binding. As most of us would agree, there is not much common sense in the courtroom, only the written ‘law.’ So while you and I would certainly agree that the intention of the policy is good, it is a very poorly worded and poorly thought-out policy that has been foisted on local councils by someone at the national office who has no business dictating to local councils how they are to operate.

  20. Jeremy says:

    Who ever heard of a Scout(er) without a pocket knife?

  21. Wayne says:

    In Scouting, as a Range Master at one of our camps. We NEVER use the “W” word. If you do you have to put a dollar in the “W” cup. I think you need to put a dollar or two in the “W” cup just for using the word on this web site

  22. Wayne Pancoat says:

    Does mean my Camp Ranger can’t carry a knife? How about a camp staff member that is teaching Totem Chip or any Scoutctaft related merit badge. Does he/she have to ask a Scout to cut the rope? Understand the intent but this policy is poorly written. No way to truly enforce this.

  23. Mike Mitchell says:

    I too have a problem with not being able to carry in my car. This prevents me from protecting myself and my family while too and from work/school. I am a grown, able bodied, responsible adult that has never received more than a speeding ticket. I have taken the CHL class and been through the background check and passed both with flying colors and now the BSA has deemed me unfit?

    This really does not make any sense and we should defer to State Law when it comes to firearms and being able to carry.

    The Boy Scout Motto is “Be Prepared” not “Be Prepared except……..”

  24. Philip Eidam says:

    As a ranger, I have a lock back knife with a 1 1/2 inch blade. I use this knife almost once a day and sometimes more. Cutting rope, opening boxes, cutting tape and about a dozen other actions. I also keep a box knife in my tool box. I understand what is being asked of us and my scout Ex. has given me the OK to carry my pocket knife, but do I now need to ask for this in Writing?

  25. Jeffrey Purdy says:

    So let’s leap from one nationally divisive political issue to another. REALLY!

  26. Brian Wallace says:

    Be Prepared? Can I carry a letter opener, or maybe a stapler? Laws and Policies only affect law abiding citizens.

  27. Brian Wallace says:

    I feel it is my duty to report that the River City Scout Shop (National Scout Shop) is in the possession of weapons at a BSA facility with the intent to distribute. I will feel safer, if they were removed, and the offending personnel be reprimanded at you earliest possible opportunity.

  28. Terry Hoopes says:

    Please read the words carefully. Notice the phrase “except where such prohibition has been specifically precluded under state law” and “does not apply to employees who have obtained prior written authorization to do so”.
    If all else fails, read the words, then get permission. I believe camp rangers and other camp staff are safe.

  29. Benedict Abela says:

    I am a volenteer, , Unit Commishiner, ASM, crew committee, committee chair of a cub scout pack and many more.
    I have carried a knife through my entire scouting career ans a scout and a adult. That wont change! Its not a weapon it a tool!!!
    I am a NRA certified instructor in rifle, shot gun, mussleloader rifle, and pistol. I run the Shooting range at our council camps. I also have my concieled carry pistol licence. I carry for my protection and the protection of my scouts. I think your policy just shows the ignorance of scouting today. By the way they are not WEAPONS, they are FIREARMS! this was beat into are heads during training, maybe you should try some you might learn something! I will not give up my right to protect myself for you or anyone

  30. David Capers says:

    So all BSA property’s are “gun free zones”, Which have proven to do nothing but create areas for mentally disabled to go and hurt innocent and helpless individuals.

  31. Dale says:

    So I guess the following Texas state law trumps this overly aggressive BSA policy?

    “As of September 1, 2011, most Texas employers cannot prohibit employees from possessing guns in their locked, personal vehicles on employers’ premises. Texas Senate Bill 321 (“SB 321”) – which Governor Rick Perry signed into law on June 17, 2011, and which goes into effect on September 1, 2011 – restricts public and private employers from prohibiting an employee who holds a concealed handgun license or “who otherwise lawfully possesses a firearm, or who lawfully possesses ammunition” from transporting or storing firearms or ammunition in a locked, privately owned motor vehicle located in a parking lot, parking garage or other parking area the employer provides for the employee.”

    If you reasonably expect LAW ABIDING Texas citizens NOT to bring their handgun into a building–those who possess a Concealed Handgun License and thus have had a criminal history records check, psychological evaluation, and firearms certification issued under the auspices of the State of Texas, the business must post a sign in plain view at each entrance which contains the required verbiage…commonly called a “30.06″ sign (and coincidently the picture in the BSA message that started this dialog does NOT meet this requirement).

    Funny, but our Council office does not have this sign posted. So if we are concerned about ‘protecting’ youth, volunteers and employees, as intended by this BSA policy, why has the front door literally been ‘left open’ on this building? Oh, and by the way, do criminals always follow these laws?)

    I wonder if any of the survivors of the movie theater shooting in Denver, or any of teachers/staff from the Sandy Hook school shooting, feel differently? Would they have appreciated the ability to potentially protect themselves and others from these deranged individuals intent on inflicting such great harm?

    This is a tough issue to which there are no easy answers, but an over reaching BSA national policy may not be the best way to address this issue. I don’t live in Chicago or New York City, or Washington, D.C. for a reason.

  32. Connie Knie says:

    After really reading the ruling, I seriously cannot understand the uproar.

    There are specific parts referring to folks who are licensed.

    Also I can never remember being allowed to carry personal guns on BSA property without permission.

    Will everyone just get a grip? Why would people seek to inflame a situation rather than help to understand it?

  33. Ed Mulholland says:

    To truly understand the meaning of citizenship, which we so proudly teach in Scouting, one must first understand the meaning and value of LIBERTY. This policy sacrifices liberty in the vain hope of security.

  34. John Whitford says:

    OK, let’s get real… some of these responses are funny, some silly, some show a really poor grasp of the English language and spelling and some are just plain entertaining in a Jerry Springer sort of way. A little common sense can go a long way. Perhaps one day the good folks that make and publish statements and policies at the ‘front office’ will read them first and use some positive judgment before they post them for all the world to enjoy. By the way, even the schools I go into allow me to keep my pocket knife when I go through their metal detectors…

  35. Craig says:

    In my humble opinion, this policy makes employees less safe by restricting trained citizens who are licensed to carry a firearm from doing so on BSA property.

    It creates an environment where those who are law abiding and follow the rules of their employment are at the mercy of those who do not follow the rules. A person that is in the frame of mind to commit work place violence will not care about BSA’s firearm policy. They will bring a firearm to work regardless. A person who has been trained and has a license to carry a firearm issued by the state will not be able to protect themselves because they chose to follow the rules.

    Restricting firearms from vehicles parked at BSA’s parking lot extends this defenseless posture to commute times and after work activities. An employee with a restraining order against someone else may not want to make this policy public. The other person would know the exact location and times when the employee is vulnerable to attack.

  36. George Tripple says:

    What about rangers that live on property that have guns in there homes? Or have to deal with sick animals. Or are working by themselves on a camp of a few hundred if not thousand acres to protect themselves from what ever they might encounter. I understand the use of common sense when reading the policy but the fact is it’s to open ended and leaves an employee open for displinary action. You can’t just write a blanket policy for a one size fits all. This sounds like our federal government at work.

  37. Gary Wilson says:

    I really wish BSA would word this better. “not permitted to carry or possess firearms, knives, or other weapons” Is terrible language and contrary to the BSA motto “Be Prepared”.

    Reminds me of when I couldn’t carry my Scout Leader pocket knife ( with the 1 1/2 inch blade) into the Boulder Dam because of a similar stupid rule. Yeah, with that knife I would be able to subdue the Dept of the Interior police armed with 9 MM Berettas, hijack the dam, and take it to Cuba.

    We should actively be promoting the carrying of small pocket knives as safety tools, not prohibiting them.

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