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Bush Administration's Haste Could Doom New Gun Rules In National Parks


In its apparent haste to rewrite the rules so national park visitors could arm themselves, the Bush administration might have shot itself in the foot.

According to documents obtained by the Brady Campaign To Prevent Gun Violence, the Interior Department was advised to perform, but refused to do so, an environmental analysis of the rule change's impact on national parks.

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.

When his group announced back in December that it would seek to overturn the rule change in court, Brady Campaign President Paul Helmke said the change would endanger national park visitors.

"The Bush Administration's last-minute gift to the gun lobby, allowing concealed semiautomatic weapons in national parks, jeopardizes the safety of park visitors in violation of federal law," said Mr. Helmke. "We should not be making it easier for dangerous people to carry concealed firearms in our parks."

The lawsuit, which named as defendants Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne, National Park Service Director Mary Bomar, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director H. Dale Hall, claimed Interior officials violated several federal laws to implement the rule before President Bush leaves office. Specifically, it charged that Interior failed to conduct any environmental review of the harm that the rule might cause, as is required by the National Environmental Policy Act.

The Brady Campaign also believes the rule violates the National Park Service Organic Act and the National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act, which created the parks and wildlife refuges as protected lands for safe enjoyment of all visitors.

Now, in a column Mr. Helmke wrote Thursday, he says there is evidence that the Bush administration ignored NEPA requirements:

...the previous administration ignored warnings from Interior Department officials that the rule was being changed in violation of Federal law because of a rush to get things in place before Bush left office.

These internal Bush administration documents were acquired by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence in response to our lawsuit against the Interior Department. You can read the documents here.

These documents show that the Bush administration ignored the procedural concerns and safety warnings of at least two federal agencies in order to push through the rule in time to deny the Obama administration a chance to review it.

For example, on April 3, 2008, the National Park Service's Chief of Environmental Quality, Jacob Hoogland, warned that the rule "required additional NEPA [National Environmental Policy Act] analysis" and that "at minimum an Environmental Assessment should be prepared on the proposed revision to the existing firearms regulation."

In the same vein, Michael Schwartz, the Fish and Wildlife Service's Chief of Policy and Directives Management, warned on May 14, 2008 that "The rule was published before they did any NEPA analysis. Last week, I pointed out that this is a procedural flaw."


Morons. And the Brady Bunch has proven themselves to be the biggest bunch of hysterical, opportunistic, lying, misusers of data. Talk about a group that lives by promoting fear. So now, following my training and FBI background check, I have to unload and lock up my legal weapon, just to drive into a National park. That's just stupid. Once again, liberals treat the legal and law-abiding like criminals.

What do we do if terriosts have guns and we do not??? Lets think about this before we give up our 2nd ammendment rights!!please use fire arms responcible and remember the life you save may be your own.

I don't see any need to bring guns into our National Parks.
What is the point?

Sometimes you just have to wonder: Why would anybody want to carry a semiautomatic weapon while visiting a National Park? One can probably only hope that the procedural flaw will make it possible to overturn the rewrite...


Haven't seen many "terroists" in National Parks lately. I wonder where Mr. Williamson has been visiting.

Why is it that Bush tried to shove this through at the 11th hour and skip all the required steps in the process?? Because it made no sense. This stinks of working behind closed doors without public input and without considering common sense to sneak something through knowing that the vast majority of people living in this country don't feel like they must carry a gun (of any type) on their person at all times (excluding people with positions in law enforcement) let alone while visiting this countries natural or historic sites. The previous law says you can have the gun, own the ammo, take it with you, and (following federal / state rules relative to hunting) use them for hunting or target practice or leave it in your car while traveling. It also says that it's not ok FOR ANYONE to carry a concealed weapon with them to visit places like the Washington Monument, Independence Hall, etc...NOBODY should need to carry when visiting those locations. If anyone is identified with a weapon, authorities will not have to guess: law abiding citizen or someone with ill intents when dealing with the situation. This is safer than the alternative - hundreds / thousands of people carrying guns on them to be some sort of super citizen in the unlikely (based upon the odds) event that an act of aggression occured during their individual visit to one of these sites.

Screaming about the second ammendment does not over rule common sense.

Yea, these zealots and their rules....I'm never without a gun, you never know when a crazed druggie or wild boar may corner you. I even shower with it duct-taped to my thigh.

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