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Interior Sued Over Concealed Weapons Policy

By Ed O'Keefe

The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence today filed suit in federal court seeking to block the Interior Department's recent decision that allowing anyone with a state-issued concealed-weapon permit to carry loaded firearms into a national park or wildlife refuge. The suit is a direct challenge to a last-minute rule change by the Bush administration that was announced earlier this month and is scheduled to take effect on Jan. 9.

The new rule changes a Reagan-era regulation that allowed weapons to be carried into a national park or wildlife refuge provided they were disassembled and out of reach. Interior made the change in response to requests by 51 senators of both parties who wanted consistency between the National Park Service's gun rules and state laws. Interior secretary-designate Ken Salazar, a Democratic senator from Colorado, was one of the senators who requested the rule change. Then-Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del.) did not seek the rule change.

As one of the two letters from senators states: “These inconsistencies in firearms regulations for public lands are confusing, burdensome and unnecessary. … Such regulatory changes would respect the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding gun owners, while providing a consistent application of state weapons laws across all land ownership boundaries.”

The Brady Center however believes otherwise.

“It was a rushed rule that clearly was a last-minute parting gift to the NRA, which lost big in the elections. It poses a serious threat to park visitors," said Daniel Vice, a senior attorney for the Brady Center. He cited a February report by The Washington Post that showed crime in national parks is relatively rare, especially considering the hundreds of millions of people who visit them each year. In light of the rule change, Vice said that Brady Center members, including school teachers, have canceled or curtailed visits to national sites including Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty and Philadelphia's Liberty Bell out of concern for the safety of students. The Center also believes the Bush administration "blatantly violated a host of federal laws" by not conducting an environmental analysis of the rule change.

The Interior Department does not comment on pending litigation, but spokeswoman Tina Kreisher noted that the department held a 60-day comment period and then voluntarily extended it another 30 days. All existing firearms and weapons laws apply at national parks and wildlife refuges, meaning that even if a firearm owner brought the gun with them, they could not brandish or discharge it, Kreisher said.

As for the lack of environmental review, Kreisher said: “You can’t use [the firearm] so how does it affect the environment that you carried it into the park?”

The Obama transition office would not comment on the specifics of the Interior Department ruling, but transition spokesman Nick Shapiro said, “President-elect Obama will review all eleventh-hour regulations and will address them once he is President."

That may cause disagreement between the president and his choice for interior secretary, Salazar, who through a spokesman from his Washington, D.C. Senate office earlier this month told the Grand Junction Sentinel that the senator considered the rule change “sensible.”

The Brady Center filed suit in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, hoping the court will issue an injunction before the rule takes effect on Jan. 9.

By Ed O'Keefe  | December 30, 2008; 4:35 PM ET
Categories:  Administration, Agencies and Departments  
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Comments

"Brady Center members, including school teachers, have canceled or curtailed visits to national sites including Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty and Philadelphia's Liberty Bell out of concern for the safety of students"

Why does it not surprise me that this ignorant organization does not look up the research that shows that they are SAFER when concealed weapons are allowed! Statistics have repeatedly shown that people who legally carry concealed weapons DO NOT commit crimes with those weapons, but the DO inhibit criminals from committing crimes.

And to think we let them educate our children!

Posted by: dwgerard | December 31, 2008 9:05 AM | Report abuse

If "dwgerard" sees this, I would like to be pointed to the "research" and "statistics" he cites. And any others readers know of.

Many thanks.


Posted by: bluhvn | December 31, 2008 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Statistics do not really matter in this case. Fact is, if someone wants to carry a concealed weapon, they will. Permit or not. It is the same as the Assault weapons ban, or the DC handgun ban. The laws wont necessarily keep people from having the weapons, but they will bring a feeling of safety to those that need it.

Posted by: capsfan55 | December 31, 2008 12:09 PM | Report abuse

Being a heavy user of national parks and other federal recreation areas, I am concerned about use of weapons. Far too many times, when camping at some our larger western parks, I have seen far too much drinking around the "old campfire". Mixing weapons and alcohol is a very bad mix. Drunkenness is bad enough, but add to this a loaded gun, and you have a disaster waiting to happen.

Posted by: RedRat | December 31, 2008 1:20 PM | Report abuse

If Brady group stays out of National Parks, they should have no worries...It's the LAW folks...get over it..2nd Amendment....member that one...right the 1st Amendment...
Socialist Liberal WAAA WAAA's

Posted by: OneoftheSheep | December 31, 2008 4:08 PM | Report abuse

Yes I do have some QUESTIONS about the things that Brady is talking about.

First MANY national parks are also part of regulated hunting areas.

So please tell me how you can both use say the Toyoby Natilnal park is for both Deer and Elk hunting and also ban weapons fron the same park??? Don't make any sense at all.

Next you are not required to have a permit to carry a hunting rifle anyplace in MANY states. as a matter of fact I don't think I have seen even one ranch truck in this are that don't have a rifle and usually a shot gun mounted in sight, usually in the rear window so please tell me what we should do about the fact the we NEED a loaded weapon to protect our cattle from preditors??

Come on now I have lived where almost everyone has a weapon at hand almost always for over 81 years and so far have never heard of anyone in the area being ever being hurt, much less shot by any weapon. And yes I have carried a hunting knife also for at least 75 years without incident.

Was raised where NO weapon was ever UNLOADED and for sure was never locked up,
after all that would make them usless if they were ever needed.

I owned both long guns and hand guns since I turned 7 (that is 74 years) wear a side arm almost always when working cattle or about anything else I do, have had a concealed carry permit ever since they were first issued and carry most of the time and have never yet heard of anyone here pulling a gun on anyone.

So I just don't understand where there is a problem with gun ownership.

If anyone really wants to harm anyone there are a hell of a lot of other ways of doing it and many are used everyday per the news papers so why say that guns are the problem?

Thanks themtnman@toast.net

Posted by: themtnman | December 31, 2008 4:41 PM | Report abuse

Guns kill people like spoons made Rosie O,Donnall fat!

Posted by: MilfordD | January 1, 2009 8:00 AM | Report abuse

What happens to the Senate staffs of Obama, Biden, Clinton, Salazar when a replacement Senator takes the office? Do they have to stay on, ensuring a smooth transition? Does the new Senator bring in his own minions? How does that work?
(especially in the Illinois & New York situations)

Thanks!

Posted by: Rivery | January 1, 2009 11:47 AM | Report abuse

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