Maine-based Groups Join Fight to Overturn Gun Rule for National Parks
Two groups in Maine have joined the legal bid to overturn the Bush administration's decision to allow national park visitors to arm themselves.
Already the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and the National Parks Conservation Association, aligned with the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees, have filed lawsuits to overturn the gun rule.
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 lawsuits challenging the rule change 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.
It was only about two weeks ago that the Mountain States Legal Foundation entered the fray. The Denver-based foundation filed a motion to intervene on behalf of the Interior Department because it didn't think Interior lawyers would argue adamantly enough on behalf of its members.
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.
The Maine groups contend that, "Acadia National Park is not the type of place where guns make a lot of sense."