Congressman Raul Grijalva, calling the Bush administration's efforts to allow national park visitors to arm themselves political pandering, wants a full Environmental Impact Statement, complete with public hearings, performed on the proposal.
The congressman, who chairs the House subcommittee on national parks, public lands, and national forests, says the proposal is nothing more than "election year pandering."
“Our parks already operate under common sense regulations that have served the public and the Park system well for many years," the Democrat from Arizona said in a release from his Washington office. “The administration is attempting to foster a sense of fear and paranoia about safety in our national parks that statistics show are among the safest areas of our country.
"This National Park Service proposed rule, coupled with other ill-conceived proposals for private shooting ranges on our national forest lands continues misguided attempts to mandate incompatible uses on our public lands that do not comply with their established missions and just increase the financial burden on our already overtaxed public land systems."
Representative Grijalva believes the proposal, if adopted, will create confusion and management conflicts for Park Service employees.
"Numerous national parks cross state lines where state regulations conflict with each other and would be an enforcement nightmare. Funding for needed signage and public notification of these proposed gun
regulations is simply not available and will force NPS units to shift funding from existing strained management accounts to cover these unfunded mandates for implementation of this proposed rule," he said.
Among other concerns, the congressman worried that the proposal could lead to safety problems due to "reactionary discharges aimed at wildlife" and increased poaching.
“Accommodating concealed, loaded weapons in our National Park System’s diverse parks and educational facilities makes no sense," said Representative Grijalva. "Locally in the D.C. metro region the NPS operates Wolf Trap National Park and Performance Center. Allowing concealed loaded guns where alcohol is served, and where large groups and families gather could create potential situations where impulsive actions could easily undermine the tranquil atmosphere and safety of patrons to this and many other park system facilities.
“This proposed rule and other demands for increased gun use and accessibility will only foster greater uncertainty and conflicts among users of our public land and should not move forward. I call upon the Park Service and the Department of Interior to reconsider moving forward with this proposal and instead retain existing regulations which are protective of visitor and wildlife safety.
"I also urge the Park Service to conduct a full Environmental Impact Statement under the National
Environmental Policy Act with public hearings around the country so that the public has the opportunity to comment on this misguided proposal.”