Urgent: Tom Coburn & Blue Dog Dems clear the way for loaded guns in national parks!

May 20th, 2009 9:59 am by Kelly Garbato

Updated, 5/28/09:

Sigh. As feared, the measure made it through the House. The new law won’t be implemented until February 2010, however.

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While the Credit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights Act of 2009 is a piece of legislation I most definitely support, Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) introduced an rider to the bill which would allow visitors to openly carry loaded firearms in our national parks (as well as battlefields, national monuments and historic sites).

The bill passed the Senate yesterday, with an overwhelming majority: 90 yes votes to just 5 no votes. The rider was left intact, with a vote of 67-29.

CNN’s Brianna Keilar explains:
 


 

A number of environmental groups oppose the rider, fearing that it will make national parks less safe for human visitors and non-human inhabitants alike.

The National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), for example, offers the following background and commentary:

On January 9, 2009, the Bush Administration made effective new regulations that allowed visitors to carry loaded, concealed firearms in national parks. The Bush regulation replaced a regulation developed by the Reagan Administration that required that firearms in national parks be unloaded and put away. The Reagan regulation was developed in 1983, and had been successful at maintaining our national parks as safe, family-friendly destinations. In fact, according to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report, there were 1.65 violent crimes per 100,000 national park visitors in 2006–making national parks some of the safest places for families to visit in the United States.

National park professionals, including seven former Directors of the National Park Service, the Association of National Park Rangers, the U.S. Park Ranger Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police, the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees, and the current career leadership of the National Park Service strongly opposed the Bush regulation. These national park professionals echoed NPCA’s concern that the Bush regulation would increase the risk of opportunistic shooting of wildlife, and vandalism of historic monuments, structures, and archaeological resources, as well as increase the risk of gun-related accidents. We also believed that the process undertaken to promulgate the regulation was flawed because the Bush Administration failed to complete a review of the regulation’s potential environmental impacts as required by law.

The American public also largely opposed the Bush regulation. All told, of the 140,000 people who voiced their positions on this issue during the comment period, 73 percent opposed allowing loaded, concealed firearms in our national parks.

On March 19, the U.S. District Court ruled overwhelmingly in support of the lawsuit filed by the Association of National Park Rangers, the Coalition of National Park Retirees, and NPCA, and issued an injunction against the implementation of the regulation. The judge found that the Bush Administration’s process was “astoundingly flawed” because they “abdicated their [National Environmental Policy Act] obligations” and “ignored substantial information in the administrative record concerning environmental impacts.”

The Reagan-era regulation, which NPCA supports, is effective once more.

At the court’s direction, the Obama Administration reported on April 17 that it would not appeal the courts decision, but would conduct an environmental impact statement on the effects of the rule and develop a range of alternatives. […]

UPDATE: May 14, 2009 — A dangerous and misguided rider has been attached to the Credit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights Act of 2009 (H.R.627)‬‪‪‬ that will allow individuals to openly carry assault rifles, shotguns, and semi-automatic weapons in national parks if the firearm is in compliance with State law. As a result, individuals could attend ranger led hikes and campfire programs carrying loaded firearms at Yellowstone National Park, Shenandoah National Park, Grand Canyon National Park, and many other national park units across the country.

Sadly, the U.S. Senate disregarded the concerns of national park rangers and former Park Service directors who want American families and wildlife to remain safe in our national parks. Click here to see how your Senator voted.

NPCA believes that shotguns and rifles have no place in our national parks and are currently hard at work trying to have this rider stricken.

Now the bill goes back to the House, where a vote is imminent. Please contact your Representative and urge him or her to oppose Coburn’s rider. It’s worth noting that this legislation has been introduced, on its own, previously – where it’s been soundly defeated. Now that it’s become part of a more popular bill, its supporters – the NRA, Republicans and, yes, even some Democrats – may be successful in sneaking it through. In which case, Dog help America’s wild-living non-human animals, who already exist under constant siege from their human counterparts.

If you’d like to take action on this issue, the NPCA helpfully provides a sample letter here. Please also consider calling your Representative; you can search for contact information here.

By the by, this just goes to show why having a Democratic majority in the House and/or Senate isn’t good enough; if the Dems are so “moderate” that they’re practically Republicans, what’s the bloody point?

Go Green, is what I’m sayin’.

Updated to add:

The Wilderness Society has also begun a campaign on this issue; you can view their sample letter and talking points here.

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2 Responses to “Urgent: Tom Coburn & Blue Dog Dems clear the way for loaded guns in national parks!”

  1. Happiness is a ‘pumped and dumped’ gun. » V for Vegan: easyVegan.info Says:

    […] First, the bad news: That rider to the Credit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights, introduced by asshat extraordinaire Tom Coburn, which would allow visitors to carry loaded guns in national parks? Passed both the House and Senate – with the help of plenty of Blue Dog Dems, natch. […]

  2. The “right” to guzzle gas. » V for Vegan: easyVegan.info Says:

    […] Coburn is fast becoming my pick for Douchebag of the […]

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