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House Seals Deal To Allow Wide Range of Firearms into The National Park System


Thanks to a brilliant tactical move, gun rights advocates are a step closer to arming themselves in national parks and national wildlife refuges across the country following a U.S. House of Representatives' vote on a credit card bill.

By attaching the gun legislation to the widely popular bill that would redefine the ground rules for credit card companies, Congress essentially made the firearms provision bulletproof. The House passed the measure, which earlier this week cleared the Senate, on a vote of 279-147 Wednesday, and sent it on to President Obama, who is expected to sign the legislation into law this weekend.

Condemnation of Congress's move came quickly from park advocacy groups.

Theresa Pierno, Executive Vice President, National Parks Conservation Association

“We are disappointed in the members of the House and Senate who allowed this amendment to pass, as well as in President Obama. By not taking a stand to prevent this change, they have sacrificed public safety and national park resources in favor of the political agenda of the National Rifle Association. This amendment had no hearing or review, and will increase the risk of poaching, vandalism of historic park treasures, and threats to park visitors and staff.”

“These are special protected places, where millions of American families and international visitors can view magnificent animals and majestic landscapes and experience our nation’s history, including sites where lives were lost to preserve our American ideals.

“The Reagan Administration’s regulation requiring simply requires that guns carried into these iconic places be unloaded and put away is a time-tested, limited and reasonable restriction to carry out an important and legitimate goal of protecting and respecting our national parks, monuments and battlefields. It is a tremendously sad day that it has been thrown out by political leaders from whom we expect more.”

Bill Wade, Chair, Executive Council, Coalition of National Park Service Retirees

“Passage of this legislation that would allow firearms of all kinds in national parks is an absolute travesty. There is simply no need for it, given the extremely low risks that visitors face in national parks compared with everywhere else.

"Legislators who voted for this amendment now have to live with the fact that they have, in fact, increased the risk to visitors and employees, as well as the risk to wildlife and some cultural resources. Moreover, they've just contributed to diminishing the specialness of this country's National Park System. We hope the American people register their disappointment in the actions of these legislators.”

Scot McElveen, President, Association of National Park Rangers

“Members of the ANPR respect the will of Congress and their authority to pass laws, but we believe this is a fundamental reversal from what preceding Congresses created the National Park System for. Park wildlife, including some rare or endangered species, will face increased threats by visitors with firearms who engage in impulse or opportunistic shooting.”

John Waterman, President, U.S. Park Rangers Lodge, Fraternal Order of Police

“One should ask, what do guns have to do with credit cards? We are disappointed that Congress chose to disregard the safety of U.S. Park Rangers, the most assaulted federal officers, and forgo the environmental process set up to assure the protection of our national parks. If signed by President Obama, this will clearly be a change in his rhetoric towards taking better care of our environment and protecting federal employees."


Are there any groups that support concealed carry in National Parks by those citizens who have a permit to carry within that state? You did a great job listing those who objected albeit onesided.

The problem with the NO firearms in the parks is that those of us that include other activities besides going to a park (a single point destinaton for an entire vacation) either forces one to not be totally honest or skip visiting some of our finest treasures, the National Parks. With this new legislation we can now visit more places and vary our vacations for a much more memorable time. RemynRay

Think this new law is going to bring problems especially at crowded parks like Yosemite. Had read blogs about arguments and noise complaints during high peak season. Sadly, as we all know in order to reverse or make new changes to a policy, National Unwritten SOP states a tragedy or tragedies has to occur first. Hopefully our hiking crew wont be at that camp site when bullets start to fly.

Typical of the anti gun groups. They always predict catastrophic results if responsible citizens are allowed to exercise their Second Amendment rights. That was the mantra when the concealed carry law was debated here several years ago. Since the law has passed, none of the predictions have happened.

The so-called credit card victory is actually another victory for the NRA. I am outraged that Congress allowed HR627 to pass with the inclusion of the Coburn amendment. This rider would allow individuals to openly carry assault rifles, shotguns, and semi-automatic weapons in national parks if the firearm is in compliance with state law. With this rider, the National Park Service would be forced to allow loaded guns in parks, battlefields, historic sites and monuments after decades of requiring guns to be unloaded and stored when traveling through these national treasures. The safety in our national parks is in jeopardy, putting both visitors and resources at considerable risk. How could Congress allow this to happen to our beautiful national parks and refuges. THIS IS SHAMEFUL!

Apparently John Waterman is unfamiliar with the legislative process in this country.

I said a long time ago we would prevail. The Chicken Littles here will run around in circles claiming, most surely, it's the end of the world and no one is safe. But they never say that about the criminals who have been doing the actual killing, raping, assaulting and robbing at will. And my guess is Bambi and the trees ad signs will probably start squawking, too. "Assault rifles." I chuckle every time I hear the clueless people tossing this one around :^) The best one I read was now the cops in one city will be getting "military style weapons" but we gun owners get to have our "large capacity clips" and "assault weapons."

Seriously, the gun-haters need to focus their energy and anxiety on something that is actually illegal, rather than a Constitutionally protected right. Get over it and enjoy your walk in the park. It'll actually be safer now because the criminals might think you have a gun and won't bother you. That's a fact.

This legislation sets the stage for the opportunity to collect hard data on the impact of concealed carry in the parks. You could say this is the information stage in a significant experiment. If that information leads to a verifiable increase in resource damage or violence, the question must be revisited. At this point it seems to me there simply isn't enough data for a sound, scientific decision supporting the prohibition. I suspect there will be little impact from law-abiding, permitted citizens carrying legal weapons in the parks. I would never advocate such a trial if I felt it posed a significant threat to anyone. A key element will be how much the legislation increases illegal weapons in parks. On the other hand, there's no question that an increasingly violent criminal element armed with far superior illegal weapons will continue to be a growing threat especially to officer safety. This is particularly true in western and southwestern parks on or near the border, and in urban parks, in general.

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