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Guns in National Parks a Deadly Decision

CHICAGO / BOSTON – Congress passed dangerous legislation Wednesday permitting the carrying of deadly and loaded guns in national parks, a law
soundly rejected by park rangers, conservationists, gun violence prevention
advocates and the vast majority of American citizens.

Senator Tom Coburn (OK) hijacked the major credit card reform legislation and
cynically attached his gun amendment which would allow individuals to carry
loaded firearms in national parks. Coburn took advantage of the bill that was
crafted to protect Americans from spurious interest rate hikes and who are
drowning in credit card debt by attaching a non-germane bill.

More troubling is that Majority Leader Harry Reid (NV) and the Senate
leadership let Coburn get away with this underhanded tactic. The U.S. Senate
voted 67-29 for the Coburn amendment.

The majority of the members of Congress showed complete cowardice in refusing
to stand up to the gun lobby’s extremist agenda. These members weakened public
safety and stripped Americans of their right to enjoy national parks and
wilderness areas free from the threat of armed citizens carrying deadly handguns
and semi-automatic assault weapons. Yet again, the Obama administration was
painfully silent during the debate and failed to exercise leadership in calling
for a clean credit card bill without the Coburn Amendment attached.

“Our country was founded on the principal that we are a nation of laws and
yet the gun lobby is seemingly advocating anarchy over our own government when
it comes to the gun issue,” said Sally Slovenski, Executive Director of Freedom
States Alliance. “The Democrats in Congress and in the White House have shown
that when it comes to the issue of guns and gun violence prevention policies,
our government is being held hostage by the gun lobby.”

“It is absolutely astonishing that while Americans are swamped in credit card
debt and now have better protections for their economic security, our very own
personal safety is at greater risk traveling to our national parks,” said Scott
Vogel, Communications Director for FSA. “During the campaign, President Obama
said that government should work for us and help us – not hurt us. Clearly
Congress and the White House need to revisit that commitment.”

Despite concerns raised by park rangers, Congress put the safety of national
park visitors and wildlife at risk by allowing concealed, loaded firearms at 388
of 391 national park sites. Coburn’s amendment overturned a Reagan-era
regulation that allowed unloaded and safely stowed firearms in national

Gun proponents continue to say that prohibitions against carrying guns in
national parks violates their Second Amendment rights. But even Supreme Court
Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for the majority in the Heller case that
stripped D.C. of its handgun ban, stated conclusively: “Nothing in our opinion
should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of
firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of
firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings.”


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