Group Seeks To Intevene In Court Case Concerning Armed Visitors in National Parks

A non-profit legal foundation that long has argued for multiple use of public lands now wants to aid the Interior Department in defending a rule that allows national park visitors to carry weapons.

Mountain States Legal Foundation, which has given rise to the likes of former Interior secretaries James Watt and Gale Norton, late last week filed a motion for permission to intervene in the lawsuit the National Parks Conservation Association and the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees brought against the Interior Department over the rule change.

The Bush administration in December finalized a rule to allow loaded, concealed firearms in all national parks except those located in two states: Wisconsin and Illinois, which do not permit concealed weapons. The former rule, put in place by the Reagan administration, required that firearms transported through national parks be safely stowed and unloaded. The rule change took effect January 9, before President Obama was sworn in.

The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence also has filed a lawsuit hoping to overturn the rule change.

Both lawsuits claim Interior officials violated several federal laws to implement the rule before President Bush left office. Specifically, they allege that Interior failed to conduct any environmental review of the harm that the rule will cause, as is required by the National Environmental Policy Act. The lawsuit filed by the NPCA and the retirees also claims that Interior officials ignored the National Park Service Organic Act, and the Administrative Procedure Act.

The Mountain States Legal Foundation maintains it should be allowed to intervene in the case in part because many of its members hold concealed weapons permits and their rights would be infringed if the new rule is overturned.

"... MSLF’s members have a present, existing interest in exercising their right to carry in national park areas and National Wildlife Refuges, for which they expended their time, energy, and economic resources—both to obtain licenses to carry concealed weapons and in supporting MSLF’s advocacy of the updated regulations during the public comment period," reads a portion of the motion. "Should judgment be rendered for Plaintiffs, this time, energy, and financial expenditure would be for naught, because MSLF’s members would be barred from exercising the rights protected by the updated regulations."

Part of the motion, though, almost sounds as if it could be used by the NPCA, retirees, and Brady Campaign in their bid to have the rule overturned, as the legal foundation maintains that only a "small fraction" of Americans hold concealed weapons permits and the Interior Department has an obligation to represent the general public, "most of whom do not" carry concealed weapons.

Federal Defendants are charged by law with representing the public interest of the citizens of the United States, not the more narrow and “parochial” interests of MSLF’s members. MSLF’s members have expended time, money, and effort to obtain licenses to carry concealed weapons. Because only a small fraction of the general public obtains such licenses, Federal Defendants’ obligation to represent the interests of the general public, most of whom do not have concealed carry licenses, is at odds with the interests of MSLF’s members. At best there is a partial congruence of interests, which does not guarantee the adequacy of the representation.

Comments

Who's over the top on this one? Guess? Yep! You're right, the gun people. THERE IS NO REASON TO PACK A GUN, PISTOL, RIFLE OR AUTOMATIC WEAPON IN NATIONAL PARK!!!!! Just like concealed weapons are not allowed in a public building or store. Why they feel the need to "pack" in a park is beyond me. And the business of their rights being infringed on is TOTAL BUNK. What about the rights of the general public, who don't carry!

How does this rule infringe on the rights of those in the general public who don't carry? If a law abiding citizen (the people who are affected by this law) wish to carry a firearm to protect him or herself, then what is the problem? All I have heard from a majority of anti-gunners is how this law is going to promote the unlawful killing of wildlife and generally make our national parks more dangerous places to visit. Unfortunately there is no evidence to support such a claim. Personally, I hike in a lot of places where grizzly bears, kodiak, and other large predators live, and while over the years I have learned a lot about behavior patterns and aggressive attitudes, it's always a possibility that one may charge for real. Think about that for one second, and I'm sure you'll come to the conclusion that you'd rather have the opportunity to be able to defend yourself than not.

BobR, you may want to do more research on concealed weapons laws before making such inaccurate statements. CWs are allowed in both public buildings and stores. Depending on the state and the store there might, and I stress might, be certain restrictions but that doesn't mean can't. Just out of curiosity, has there ever been a case of an animal mauling a person in a National Park, a kidnapping, a murder? I know that if my family or yours was threatened by any of these things, et.al, I would be pretty upset that I wasn't able to defend against it and/or prevent it from happening because by carrying I would be infringing on your rights. By the way, what right am I infringing on of yours by carrying? For all of you wanting to ban guns I would ask that you research what happened in Australia when they DID ban guns. The results are not what you would expect. One thing I will say to my fellow concealed carrying buds...... CONCEALED means not visible! Nobody thinks you're cooler for carrying a gun, cops hate it (therefore are more liable to "bother" you), and it defeats the whole purpose of carrying concealed ( the threat is not supposed to know you have it!) Is it ok with all of you that off duty police officers often carry concealed? How about military members? Granted these people are trained professionals but so are most guns owners/carriers. Yes, some people have no business carrying a weapon, but some people have no business driving a car either. Which causes more deaths a year and which saves more? According to 2003 stats (I couldn’t find any more recent) we are 4x more likely to be killed in Auto collision vs. a gun assault. I could go on and on but I believe I've said enough.... for now.

BobR, You self proclaimed expert that probably doesn't no the difference between automatic firearms, and semi-auto firearms that are legal. The anti-gunners said that before it was pass concealed and carry in my State Of Minnesota, that there would be shootouts like the old wild west. Guess what, they were blowing smoke out of their orifice! It never happened, in fact the Chief of Police in St.Paul,MN has said there has been no problems with the law! You know people have been mauled in Glacier and Denali Federal Parks, why deny, it by bears. Your reasoning doesn't make any sense, a person should not have the right to defend themselves against a bear attack!!! The Supreme Court just ruled you should have the right to defend your self with a firearm!! There is more danger driving through that park with your auto, then being shoot!! Look at the facts don't ignore them like Handgun Control Inc. does.

I find it curious that anti gun folk complain when other people exercise a civil right protected by the Constitution. They rarely complain about the exercise of other civil rights. But because this civil right is about the right to keep and bear(carry) arms they get all upset.

Those who choose to carry arms are not infringing on the anti gun folk, their civil rights, so please do not infringe on the gun carry folks rights. That is tolerance.

This new change to carry provisions in National Parks do not effect retirees of the NPS any more thjat it effect everyone. Which is very little. However a revokation of the rule does effect those who wish to exercise their right to carry in NPS.

Though a waepon may help in defending against attacks of dangerous wildlife, a handgun is not the best tool. It is more to allow to defend against the two legged predator.

The most common usuage would be to travelers who have CCW who now do not have to stop every time they travel by car on a road that goes in and out of a NP. I do not know how many times when I drive down a road that I go in and out of a NP. It may be different in the west. But on the east coast that happens a lot near Catoctin and other parks.

To the non carrying public this change will have no effect. They should not be aware when a vistor has a gun with them since it is supposed to be concealed. I personally would prefer to see open carry than just conceal carry. Then I know who is carrying most of the time and can make my own judgement.