29.1 Purpose and Scope.
A. To specify the minimum Occupational Safety and Health Program (Program) requirements for the firearms safety program in the Department of the Interior (Department or DOI) and U.S. Geological Survey (Bureau or USGS).
B. The requirements covered in this Chapter apply to USGS personnel, volunteers, and those who work under USGS funding/direction who, in the performance of their official duties, are required to use government or personally owned firearms for protection against wild animal attacks or for specimen collection. A firearm is defined as any breech-loaded handgun or shoulder-fired small-arm from which a solid projectile is fired by gunpowder or compressed gas. Devices that resemble firearms and fire paper blanks, hypodermic darts, cracker shells, etc. can also cause serious injury. Safety training requirements for these firearm-like devices can be found under section 29.3.7 in this chapter and Appendix 29-3 in this Handbook.
A. Physical Security Handbook SM 440-2-H, Property Handbook SM 408-2-H.
B. State Firearm Laws and Regulations pertaining to firearms use, handling, transport, and storage.
C. In this chapter, the word “use” denotes use, handle, carry, or store; the word “personnel” denotes personnel, volunteers, and those who work under USGS funding/direction.
A. Certificate of Need and Qualification Inquiry.
(1) A Certificate of Need (Appendix 29-1, Certificate of Need for Issuance of a Firearm for Official Use shall be completed for all personnel authorized to use a firearm as part of their official duties. The Certificate of Need shall only be issued for the time frame required (Time Frame of Use) and, at no time, be issued to cover more than a 12-month period. An approved study plan is required for issuance of a Certificate of Need for specimen collection.
(2) Approval of the Certificate of Need shall be by a direct supervisor who has knowledge of their personnel’s firearm needs and training in firearms safety.
(3) Failure to return a government-owned firearm within 30 days of the termination of Time Frame of Use shall cause the user to be responsible for damage or theft of this sensitive property. Some of the general guidelines for sensitive property are that the item is:
(a) Stored in locked facilities when not in use.
(b) Removed from public view when leaving an unattended area for even short periods of time.
(c) Safeguarded when on travel status.
(4) On September 30, 1996, 18 United States Code 992(g)(9) took effect, making it a felony for anyone convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence to possess firearms or ammunition. Personnel that use a firearm on official business shall fill out a Qualification Inquiry (Appendix 29-2, Qualification Inquiry Form) self-certifying they have not been convicted of such crimes prior to approval of the Certificate of Need or participation in firearms training. A new Qualification Inquiry shall be submitted for each new Certificate of Need or firearms training course.
B. Firearms Training.
(1) Personnel cannot be certified to use a firearm without first successfully completing an appropriate USGS-approved Basic Firearms Certification Course (BFCC), which includes the 24-hour BFCC for Defense Against Wild Animals (Basic Defense Course) or the 8-hour BFCC for Specimen Collection (Basic Collection Course). The Basic Defense Course can suffice for certification for collection purposes. However, personnel carrying a firearm for both self-defense and specimen collection must first complete the Basic Defense Course. All firearms safety training must be documented by completion of Training Form SF-182.
(2) To recertify for defense purposes, an 8-hour USGS-approved Refresher Firearms Certification Course (RFCC) for Defense Against Wild Animals (Refresher Defense Course) must be attended annually in order to use government- or personally-owned firearms. Re-certification is valid for 12 months.
(3) The Basic Defense Course must be repeated if the person (1) does not use firearms and does not attend a Refresher Defense Course within a 2-year period, or (2) does not successfully complete the Refresher Defense Course. Poor performance or unsafe behavior by personnel using firearms also constitutes grounds for repeating the Basic Defense Course.
(4) To recertify for collection purposes, a 4-hour USGS-approved RFCC for Specimen Collection (Refresher Collection Course) is attended annually. The refresher training can be waived by the person’s supervisor if the person documents that they safely used firearms for specimen collecting the previous year.
(5) All hours of training specified for USGS Basic and Refresher Firearms Certification courses are to be considered the minimal number of contact hours required.
(6) Alternative firearms certification courses and training schedules may be substituted upon review and approval of the USGS Firearms Safety Committee or Regional Firearms Committee, if established. Any contractor should work directly with the USGS Firearms Safety Committee or Regional Firearms Committee, if established, to ensure that the contracted training is relevant to survey objectives. All USGS-approved Firearms Certification courses must cover the minimum firearms training standards specified in Appendix 29-3,USGS Minimum Firearms Training Standards for Contractors/Other Federal Bureaus.
(7) Personnel who use devices that resemble firearms and that fire paper blanks, hypodermic darts, cracker shells, etc., shall complete safety training as detailed in Appendix 29-3, USGS Minimum Firearms Training Standards for Contractors/Other Federal Bureaus, that includes, at a minimum:
(a) General Firearms Safety and Four Rules of Firearms Safety.
(b) Firearms Safety in the Field.
(c) Bureau Firearms Regulations and Policies.
(d) Supervisor and Personnel Responsibilities.
C. Firearms Instructors.
(1) Personnel who serve as USGS Firearms Instructors for the Basic Defense and Refresher Defense courses shall be certified by the Bureau Firearms Manager. USGS Firearms Instructors who teach these courses must successfully complete the following training elements:
(a) 24-hour BFCC for Defense Against Wild Animals (Basic Defense Course).
(b) 8-hour RRCC for Defense Against Wild Animals (Refresher Defense Course). Helping to teach the Refresher Defense Course can substitute for training.
(c) USGS Firearms Instructor Certification Course (FICC) for Defense Against Wild Animals.
(i) The FICC for Defense Against Wild Animals is valid for 5 years.
(ii) To recertify as a USGS Firearms Instructor for Defense Against Wild Animals, an appropriate FICC must be successfully completed every 5 years.
(iii) Teaching segments of the FICC for Defense Against Wild Animals can substitute for training.
(d) Basic National Rifle Association Instructor Certification Program, to include:
(i) Basic Pistol, Basic Shotgun, or Basic Rifle.
(ii) Personal Defense.
(iii) Home Firearms Safety.
(e) An accredited, non-government firearms training course (40 hours minimum) approved by the Bureau or Regional Firearms Manager.
(2) Personnel who serve as USGS Firearms Instructors for the Basic Collection and Refresher Collection courses shall be certified by the Bureau Firearms Manager. Firearms Instructors for both these courses must successfully complete the following training elements:
(a) 8-hour BFCC for Specimen Collection (Basic Collection Course).
(b) 4-hour RFCC for Specimen Collection (Refresher Collection Course). Helping to teach segments of the Refresher-Collection Course can substitute for training.
(c) USGS FICC for Specimen Collection.
(i) The FICC for Specimen Collection is valid for 5 years.
(ii) To recertify as a USGS Firearms Instructor for Specimen Collection, an appropriate FICC must be successfully completed every 5 years.
(iii) Teaching segments of the FICC for Specimen Collection can substitute for refresher training.
(3) In addition to the above training, all USGS Firearms Instructors must be able to demonstrate the ability to independently and effectively teach the fundamentals of firearms safety in accordance with the USGS Firearms Instructor Manual(s).
(4) Other government personnel or private contractors who serve as firearms instructors must meet certain standards. All contracted firearms training courses shall be evaluated by the USGS Firearms Committee or the Regional Firearms Committee to ensure that adequate coverage of the course content listed inAppendix 29-3, USGS Minimum Firearms Training Standards for Contractors/Other Federal Bureaus and USGS Firearms Instructor Manuals are provided.
(5) Other government personnel or private contractors who serve as firearms instructors must have the following minimum training and certification requirements:
(a) Firearms Instructor Certification from an established Firearms Training Program (e.g., National Rifle Association Instructor Certification).
(b) At least several years of experience teaching civilians firearms safety.
(c) Any firearms training curriculum must contain lesson plans that stress the potential hazards associated with firearms use and training. The training curriculum must also establish and implement appropriate safeguards to minimize the risks and liabilities to both students and instructors.
(6) USGS personnel who serve as Assistant Firearms Instructors and instructor-candidates shall have successfully completed appropriate USGS Basic and Refresher Firearms Safety courses. In addition, they shall have demonstrated proficiency in the safe use and handling of firearms, participated in ongoing shooting range activities, and shown an interest in the USGS Firearms Safety Program and firearms instruction. Assistant Instructors and instructor-candidates shall be appointed by their respective Regional Firearms Manager.
D. USGS Firearms Safety Committee.
(1) The USGS Firearms Safety Committee shall be established to assist in the development of plans, recommend policy, provide guidance, and promote actions as required to maintain an effective Bureau-wide Firearms Safety Program.
(2) Duties and responsibilities shall be in accordance with this chapter and the Firearms Safety Committee Charter.
(3) Committee membership shall consist of the Bureau Firearms Manager, Regional Firearms Managers as appointed by the Regional Directors, technical firearms representatives with subject matter expertise to serve as ex-officio members, and a representative from the Bureau Safety and Environmental Management Branch. Additional membership and meeting requirements shall be in accordance with the Firearms Safety Committee’s Charter.
E. Regional Firearms Committee.
(1) USGS Regional Firearms Committees may be established at the discretion of the Regional Director to (1) oversee firearms training in their region, (2) assist managers in selecting appropriate contractors for firearms training, and (3) evaluate contractor course curriculum.
(2) The Regional Firearms Manager, appointed by the Regional Director, will oversee their respective Regional Firearms activities and chair the Regional Firearms Committee, if established.
(3) Regions that may require a firearms committee include: Eastern Region, Central Region, Western Region (exclusive of Alaska), and Alaska, due to their remoteness and high firearms use.
(4) Each regional firearms committee should contain representatives from each regional science program that uses firearms.
A. Local firearms management will maintain files containing the following information:
(1) Firearms training records for personnel who attend USGS Basic and Refresher Firearms Certification courses to ensure training currency.
(2) Certificate of Need Records.
(3) Inventories of firearms maintained at their armory.
(4) Firearms sign-out logs to track the locations of government-owned firearms outside the armory and respective responsible personnel.
(5) All records of firearms maintenance and repair.
(6) Records of unintended firearms discharges in other than a training environment.
(7) Records of lost, stolen, or functionally-damaged firearms.
B. Firearms Accidents or Incidents. For any firearm accident, incident (inclusive of discharges), or defensive action, the supervisor authorizing the person’s Certificate of Need will complete an entry into the automated DOI Safety Management Information System (SMIS) as described in Chapter 7 of this Handbook. In addition to the filing requirements, a hard copy of the incident report shall be printed out from the SMIS system and forwarded through local management to the USGS Firearms Safety Program Manager for review by the USGS Firearms Safety Committee. Any injury or death resulting from a firearms accident/incident must be reported in accordance with Chapter 7 of this Handbook.
29.5 Safe Storage and Security.
A. All firearms and ammunition shall be stored in a secure area under lock and key inaccordance with USGS Physical Securities Handbook (10-4 to 10-7). Any missing or lost firearm or ammunition shall be reported within 24 hours to the appropriate Bureau and/or Regional Firearms Manager, as appropriate.
B. A DOI memo on Child Safety Locking Devices for Handguns specifically implies that any firearm (government- or personally-owned) used by USGS personnel shall be under lock and key when: (1) not being used in the field, (2) in transit, or (3) the firearm is not under the direct control of the cognizant person. The concept of “being locked” implies that the firearm is to be stored in a locked hard case or stored in a soft gun case and a trigger safety lock employed.
C. Firearms and ammunition transported on commercial airlines must be declared and an FAA tag must be signed stating that the firearm is unloaded. The ammunition must be separated from the firearm, shipped in factory-sealed containers, and is limited to 11 lbs. weight. For field aircraft, the firearm must be declared to the pilot or authorized representative prior to boarding.
D. Any personnel authorized to use a firearm in the field as a part of their duties must follow the State and municipal laws concerning the transportation and mode of carry of firearms in motor vehicles.
E. Any personnel authorized to use a firearm in the field as a part of their duties must follow the State and municipal laws concerning the personal carry of firearms. State permits authorizing concealed carry are not recognized by the USGS and do not apply to government personnel as long as the person is on official duty.
F. Lost or stolen firearms shall be reported without delay to the Bureau Firearms Manager and Regional Firearms Manager, as well as the local law enforcement agency for entry into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) System.
G. Ammunition. Damaged or hand-loaded ammunition shall not be used. Damaged or faulty ammunition shall be disposed of as recommended by the Regional Firearms Manager or local Firearms Safety Officer.
A. Bureau Safety Manager (BSM).
(1) Designates an individual as the responsible person for all firearms training and certification activities within USGS (i.e., the Bureau Firearms Manager [BFM]).
(2) Provides final concurrence on substitutions to other firearms training programs upon review and approval by the BFM.
(3) Provides final concurrence on training necessary for the safe operation on firearms-like devices upon the recommendations of the BFM and/or Bureau Firearms Safety Committee.
(4) Provides for establishment of a Bureau Firearms Safety Committee, which advises the Bureau DASHO and BSM through ad hoc membership on the Bureau Safety Health and Environmental Council, to address all firearms issues and reviews all accidents related to firearms, inclusive of making recommendations to prevent recurrence of similar accidents.
(5) Provides administrative support to the BFM and Bureau Firearms Safety Committee, as appropriate.
B. Bureau Firearms Manager (BFM).
(1) Serves as the principal firearms technical expert within the USGS on all firearms-related issues.
(2) Develops and recommends firearm-related policies for review by the USGS Firearms Safety Committee.
(3) Maintains and reviews copies of all SMIS accidents or incidents involving a firearm used on official duty to identify any trends and make recommendations for future preventive actions.
(4) Serves as lead investigator for firearms accidents involving serious injury or major property damage.
(5) Oversees all USGS Basic, Refresher, and Instructor Firearms Training Programs and monitor to ensure consistency, accuracy, coverage, and overall quality.
(6) Develops USGS Firearms Certification Course curricula and write and update all USGS Firearms Training Manuals.
(7) Serves as an advisor to Bureau Safety Manager, Regional Firearms Managers and local Firearms Safety Officers.
(8) Chairs the USGS Firearms Safety Committee, responsible for coordination of meetings and agendas and publishing minutes.
(9) Oversees legal issues associated with firearms training and the issuance and use of firearms by Bureau personnel.
(10) Verifies that the Regional Firearms Managers, regional science program representatives, as applicable, and local Firearms Safety Officers and Firearms Safety Instructors have received adequate firearms training to perform competently in their positions.
(11) Coordinates with the Bureau Firearms Safety Committee to compile a fiscal year firearms program action/accomplishment plan and submit annually to the Bureau Safety Manager.
(12) Completes a firearms program self-assessment annually.
(13) Maintains Bureau-wide firearms program management databases (i.e., training, operator, instructor, and inventory), as applicable.
C. Regional Director/Regional Executives. Designate individuals to serve as the Regional Firearms Manager and regional representatives for their individual science programs to serve on the USGS Firearms Safety Committee and regional safety committee.
D. Regional Safety Managers/Officers. Provide support and assistance to the Regional Firearms Manager and field organizational CDSPC’s, Firearms Safety Officers, in establishment and implementation of firearms safety program requirements and training.
E. Regional Firearms Manager.
(1) Serves as a focal point for all firearm-related matters in their respective region.
(2) Maintains regional firearms records.
(3) Coordinates training activities in conjunction with the regional science program firearms representatives.
(4) Assists regional science program firearms representatives in selecting appropriate contractors for firearms training and evaluating contractor course curricula.
(5) Oversees regional firearms activities and chairs the Regional Firearms Committee, if established.
(6) Assists the Bureau Firearms Manager with policy and training curricula development.
(7) Participates in the Regional Safety and Health Committee.
F. Regional Science Program Firearms Representatives.
(1) Serve as a focal point for all firearms-related matters in their respective science program or geographic location.
(2) Maintain firearms records.
(3) Coordinate training activities in conjunction with the Regional Firearms Manager.
(4) Assist the Regional Firearms Manager in selecting appropriate contractors for firearms training and evaluating contractor course curricula.
(5) Participate in the Regional Safety and Health Committee.
G. Firearms Safety Officer.
(1) Serve as a focal point for all firearms-related matters in their respective field organization.
(2) Maintain local firearms records.
(3) Coordinate training activities in conjunction with the Regional Firearms Manager/Regional Firearms Representative.
H. USGS Firearms Instructors.
(1) Participate in Regional Firearms Safety Committee activities.
(2) Maintain a level of instructional and technical proficiency as described within this Chapter and as recommended by the Regional Firearms Manager.
(3) Teach the USGS Basic and Refresher Firearms Certification courses in accordance with the USGS Firearms Instructor Manual(s).
I. Assistant Firearms Instructor.
(1) Performs firearms-related duties as assigned by, and under the direction of, the Regional Firearms Manager, as applicable, or certified USGS Firearms Instructor.
(2) Maintains currency with firearms training requirements described in this chapter.
J. Organizational Managers. Provide appropriate personnel and budgetary resources to establish a local firearms safety program inclusive of operator training, periodic inspection and maintenance, personal protective and other equipment as mentioned herein as necessary for safe operation of firearms in all expected conditions.
(1) Obtain a Qualification Inquiry from each person authorized to use a firearm self-certifying they have not been convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence charges prior to issuance of the Certificate of Need and forwards a copy to the appropriate servicing Human Resources Office.
(2) Verify personnel completion of all firearms safety and related training prior to issuance of the Certificate of Need.
(3) Obtain a Certificate of Need for each person authorized to use a firearm and forward a copy to the appropriate local Firearms Safety Officer.
(1) Attend the Basic or Refresher Firearms Certification course(s) and maintain currency with all firearms training requirements specified in this chapter.
(2) Responsible for the safe use of all firearms under their control.
(3) Maintain all personal-owned firearms used for official business in safe, serviceable condition.
29.7 Additional Resources.
A. State Firearm Laws and Regulations pertaining to firearms use, handling, transport, and storage.
B. USGS Physical Security Handbook 440-2-H.
C. USGS Property Handbook 408-2-H.