The National Congress of American Indians
TITLE: Requesting Equal Treatment for Tribal Law Enforcement Agencies in Obtaining National Firearms Act Weapons and Tools
WHEREAS, we, the members of the National Congress of American Indians of the United States, invoking the divine blessing of the Creator upon our efforts and purposes, in order to preserve for ourselves and our descendants the inherent sovereign rights of our Indian nations, rights secured under Indian treaties and agreements with the United States, and all other rights and benefits to which we are entitled under the laws and Constitution of the United States, to enlighten the public toward a better understanding of the Indian people, to preserve Indian cultural values, and otherwise promote the health, safety and welfare of the Indian people, do hereby establish and submit the following resolution; and
WHEREAS, the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) was established in 1944 and is the oldest and largest national organization of American Indian and Alaska Native tribal governments; and
WHEREAS, the membership of NCAI recognizes the 165+ tribal law enforcement agencies as an expression of sovereignty by federally-recognized Indian Tribes; and
WHEREAS, the membership of NCAI recognizes the critical need for adequately-equipped tribal law enforcement to ensure public safety in Indian Country; and
WHEREAS, Section 102 of the Gun Control Act of 1968 (P.L. 90-618, codified at 18 U.S.C. § 925(a)(1)) states the provisions of the “Firearms” chapter of U.S. Code “shall not apply with respect to the transportation, shipment, receipt, possession, or importation of any firearm or ammunition imported for, sold or shipped to, or issued for the use of, the United States or any department or agency thereof or any State or any department, agency, or political subdivision thereof;” and
WHEREAS, the 1986 revisions to the Gun Control Act (GCA) prohibits the transfer and possession of certain firearms and non-lethal devices (known as National Firearms Act, or NFA, weapons) except for “transfers to or by, or possession by or under the authority of, the United States or any department or agency thereof or a State, or a department, agency, or political subdivision thereof;” and
WHEREAS, the weapons that are restricted by the GCA and NFA are devices such as short-barreled rifles and non-lethal devices that are relied upon by all law enforcement agencies, tribal and non-tribal alike, to protect citizens; and
WHEREAS, in order to obtain these critical tools, tribal law enforcement agencies depend on a palliative fix that was put in place by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) that requires tribal law enforcement agencies to take additional steps to become a federal subdivision that are not required of any other law enforcement agency; and
WHEREAS, the extra steps required of tribal law enforcement agencies, that they obtain Special Law Enforcement Commissions through the BIA, are cumbersome; and
WHEREAS, the exclusion of tribal law enforcement agencies from the GCA was an oversight that is now a parity issue since tribal law enforcement agencies are highly professional and are relied upon by both tribal and non-tribal citizens in many areas; and
WHEREAS, NCAI supports the equal treatment of tribal law enforcement agencies in their efforts to obtain the tools they need to effectively carry out their duties in Indian Country, and to protect the safety and well-being of all citizens within tribal jurisdictional boundaries, including tribal law enforcement officers themselves.
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the NCAI strongly supports efforts, either legislative or administrative through the Bureau of Indian Affairs or the ATF, to resolve this parity issue in a manner that allows tribal law enforcement agencies to be on equal footing with non-tribal law enforcement agencies; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that this resolution shall be the policy of NCAI until it is withdrawn or modified by subsequent resolution.
The foregoing resolution was adopted by the General Assembly at the 2014 Mid-Year Session of the National Congress of American Indians, held at the Dena'ina Civic & Convention Center, June 8-11, 2014 in Anchorage, Alaska, with a quorum present.