Man sues to carry gun at Allatoona Lake

ALLATOONA LAKE, CARTERSVILLE, Ga. -- He stood just outside the entrance to the Army Corps of Engineers park, McKaskey Creek Campground, on the shores of Allatoona Lake, near Cartersville. It's the campground where, several times a year, he and his family pitch their tent and spend weekends together.

He showed 11Alive News that he was armed. Legally armed. And he described what he has done to try to convince the Corps to let him enter the campground with his gun.

The Army Corps of Engineers will not give him permission and will not say why.

So he is suing the Corps of Engineers.

David James of Paulding County said he just wants to be able to protect himself and his family, with his gun, when they go camping at McKaskey Creek.

MORE: Read the complaint document

He considers the gun his insurance policy against criminals.

"When I'm camping here and I camp in my tent, I want it for the same, exact reason I have it at my home," James said, "for self-defense."

James, a former police officer and a military veteran, who has a Georgia Weapons Carry permit, pointed out that the Corps allows hunters to bring guns onto Corps property; and guns are allowed in federal and state parks, but the Corps denied him permission to have his gun with him when he camps at McKaskey Creek with his family.

"We believe that anyone should be allowed to defend themselves, no matter where they go," said Jerry Henry, the Executive Director of is a plaintiff along with James. It's the group that successfully fought to pass the new, so-called "guns everywhere" law that takes effect in Georgia on July 1.

Gun-free zones on Corps property, Henry said, potentially attract criminals.

"Nothing keeps the criminal or anyone with any ill intent from going up there and carrying a firearm to do whatever he wants to do to anybody."

No one with the Army Corps of Engineers responded to messages from 11Alive News on Friday seeking comment on the policy or the lawsuit.

There is a similar lawsuit in Idaho, filed in August, 2013 -- a gun owner is suing the Army Corps of Engineers. And a judge ruled in January that guns should be allowed on Corps property there, while that lawsuit moves forward.

In that lawsuit, the Corps argues that because the public recreation sites it manages are so popular, and attract so many visitors, firearms must be tightly regulated.

The Corps also argues in that lawsuit that because of the dams and power generation at the Corps properties, firearms must be restricted in the interest of homeland security.

But U.S. District Court Judge B. Lynn Winmill wrote that the Corps' regulation of firearms violates the 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which, he wrote, guarantees "the right to carry a [loaded] firearm for self-defense purposes."

MORE: Read the judge's order in Idaho

How bad is crime at McKaskey Creek Campground?

Crime statistics were not available Friday night.

David James said he has not experienced any crimes at McKaskey Creek Campground, and is not aware of any crimes there.

But being armed, he said, is his way of being prepared for the unexpected, and for the worst.

"I carry most anywhere I go, where I'm allowed, by law," he said, "so this would just be a natural extension of that.... People that carry guns are not bad people, we're the good people, and we just want to protect ourselves."


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