Loaded Guns to be Allowed in National Parks

wnthumbslegisA new bill will allow park visitors to carry loaded rifles, shotguns, and semi-automatic weapons in National Parks, including Voyageurs National Park in International Falls.

Yesterday, the U.S. Senate passed the Credit Cardholders Bill of Rights Act (H.R. 627), which included a rider introduced by Senator Coburn (R-OK) to allow individuals to carry weapons in National Parks as long as they are in compliance with state law.  

In a May 12 press release, Dr. Coburn stated “Visitors to national parks also should have the right to defend themselves in accordance with the laws of their states.” You can read his full statement, HERE.

Opponents fear that it will place park visitors at greater risk. According to a statement by National Park Conservation Association president Theresa Pierno, “Seven former directors of the National Park Service and current and former park rangers oppose this rider because they believe it will increase the risk of poaching, vandalism of historic resources, and put visitors at risk.”

The passage of the Rider overturns a Reagan-administration ruling that requires guns to be unloaded and stowed during transport through National Parks. A Bush administration ruling in December of 2008 was also expected to overturn the Reagan ruling by allowing concealed handguns into National Parks (read more on the Voyageurs National Park Association website HERE). But in March of 2009 U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly declared the ruling flawed, and in April the Department of the Interior decided to conduct a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the rule change (read more on the VNPA web site HERE).

The U.S. House of Representatives, which passed a similar bill in April, is expected to vote on the Credit Cardholders Bill of Rights Act this week. It then goes to the president to become law.

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