A survey stemming from the Bush administration's plan to allow concealed carry of guns in national parks and national wildlife refuges predicts the result will be more wildlife shootings and management problems.
The survey, performed for the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees, found that 77 percent of 1,400 present and former employees of the National Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service predict that the controversial proposed rule reversing the long-standing prohibition of carrying loaded, concealed weapons in national parks and wildlife refuges will have an adverse affect on the ability of NPS and USFWS employees to accomplish their mission.
This finding and others are contained in Natural and Cultural Resource Impacts and Management Consequences of the Proposed Regulation to Authorize the Possession of Concealed Firearms in Units of the National Park & National Wildlife Refuge Systems.
While DOI has neglected to provide an analysis of the potential impacts of its proposed rule, the retirees group performed the survey to assess the impacts that these experts foresee should the regulation take effect. Other key results of the survey include:
* 75 percent feel that there will be an increase in opportunistic or impulse wildlife killings in parks and refuges; and
* 83 percent of survey respondents anticipated that the proposal will increase the overall level of complexity for management of their park or refuge.
In issuing the report, the coalition emphasized that Interior Department officials violated the procedural
requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act and the Endangered Species Act in failing to adequately examine the foreseeable impacts of the relaxed gun regulation. Additionally, the coalition asserts that Interior officials should have consulted the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service pursuant to ESA, as 89 threatened or endangered species inhabit the parks that would be affected by the regulation.
Separately, the executive director of Public Employees for Environmental Ethics predicts that once the regulation is published in the Federal Register, a move anticipated to occur this month, “there would be a multi-group suit filed" challenging the legality of the regulation.
The new report from the coalition highlights the enforcement complexities and threats to public safety that should have been addressed in an analysis of reasonable alternatives to the rule under NEPA.
Based on the report, CNPSR is renewing its call for Interior officials to withdraw the proposed rule.
"We think the proposed rule is manufactured and driven politically to fix a problem that doesn't exist.
Data show that parks are among the safest places to be in this country," says Bill Wade, chairman of the coalition's executive council. "Moreover, we believe it will create more problems than it can possibly fix. It is likely to alter, over time, the friendly atmosphere visitors look forward to in parks, where they go to get away from the day to day pressures and influences of their everyday lives, including worry about guns."