FAIRFAX, Va. – Wendesday NRA-backed legislation to restore the Second Amendment
rights of law-abiding citizens in national parks and wildlife refuges passed in
the U.S. House of Representatives by an overwhelming bipartisan majority of
279-147, including 105 democrats. This was a major repudiation of the gun
control community's anti self-defense agenda.
The current Department of Interior (DOI) regulations were amended by the Bush
Administration in 2008, allowing law-abiding citizens to defend themselves by
carrying a concealed firearm in national parks and wildlife refuges. However,
early this year, a federal district court in Washington, D.C. granted anti-gun
plaintiffs a preliminary injunction against implementation of the new rule. The
NRA has been working for the past several years in the regulatory, legal, and
legislative arenas to achieve this policy change.
“It has been an NRA priority to change the old, outdated rule, and we are
pleased that Congress passed this critical legislation,” said Chris W. Cox,
NRA’s chief lobbyist. “This step brings clarity and uniformity for law-abiding
gun owners visiting our national parks and wildlife refuges. NRA will continue
to pursue every avenue to defend the American people’s right of self-defense.”
The National Park Service’s recent report revealed that 11 murders, 35 rapes,
61 robberies and 261 aggravated assaults occurred on parklands in 2006. Our
parks also contain hidden methamphetamine labs, marijuana fields and illegal
drug and illegal alien smuggling routes. In addition to these dangers and
potential attacks from human predators, park visitors have to consider attacks
from animal predators. Between April and December 2007 there were at least a
dozen grizzly bear attacks reported by park visitors. Today, 31 states allow the
carrying of firearms in state parks – all with safe and satisfactory results.
This bill provides consistency across our nation’s federal lands and puts an
end to the patchwork of regulations that govern different lands managed by
different federal agencies. In the past, only Bureau of Land Management and
Forest Service lands allowed the carrying of firearms, while National Parks and
Wildlife Refuges did not.
In 1982, only six states allowed citizens to carry handguns for self-defense.
Currently, 48 states have some process in place for issuing licenses or permits
to allow law-abiding citizens to carry firearms for self-defense. The NRA has
long held that the regulations needed to be updated to reflect this change.
This move restores the rights of law-abiding gun owners who wish to transport
and carry firearms for lawful purposes on most DOI lands and makes federal law
consistent with the state law in which these lands are located.
“This common-sense measure, offered by Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK), gives
law-abiding gun owners the option of protecting themselves in our federal parks
and refuges. We appreciate the efforts and leadership of Senators Max Baucus
(D-MT), Mike Crapo (R-ID) and Representative Doc Hastings (R-WA) in ensuring a
legislative remedy to amend out-of-date regulations and restore the Second
Amendment rights of American gun owners,” concluded Cox.