|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
|Date:||July 9, 2008|
|Contact:||Bryan Faehner, Legislative Representative, National Parks Conservation Association, P: 202.419.3700|
Gun Regulation in National Parks: Public Comment Period Extended to August 8
Washington, D.C.--The nation's leading voice for the national parks, the nonprofit National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), today encouraged park enthusiasts to take advantage of the extended comment period on the Administration's proposal to change gun regulation in the national parks. At the urging of Congress, park rangers, and NPCA, the Department of Interior has extended the comment period on its controversial proposal to August 8, 2008.
The Department of the Interior, under intense political pressure generated by the National Rifle Association, is proposing a change in the Reagan-era regulations that allow guns in national parks as long as they are unloaded and properly stowed. The new regulation would mandate that national parks allow loaded and concealed firearms if the state where that park is located allows the same practice in its state parks.
"National parks like Yellowstone and Mesa Verde are special, sensitive places-they not only protect threatened wildlife, but critically important cultural and historical places vital to our heritage," said Bryan Faehner, a former park ranger and NPCA legislative representative. "NPCA is pleased the Department of Interior has provided an extra month to comment on such a complex and confusing proposal."
On June 26, Senator Daniel K. Akaka, Chair of the Senate Subcommittee on National Parks, and Congressman Raúl M. Grijalva, Chair of the House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands, sent a letter to Interior Secretary Kempthorne requesting an extension. The letter stated that the "the Department's proposal is ardently opposed by current and former park ranger professionals who have countless years of experience in park management and resource protection." They also indicated that an extension was necessary so that the public could have time to analyze the Supreme Court's decision in support of Heller in the Heller v. District of Columbia.
NPCA, along with the Association of National Park Rangers, the U.S. Park Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police, and the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees also sent a letter to the Department of Interior requesting an extension.
On April 3, in a letter sent to Secretary Kempthorne, seven former directors of the National Park Service stated their opposition to changing the current regulations. "In all our years with the National Park Service, we experienced very few instances in which this limited regulation created confusion or resistance," the letter stated. "There is no evidence that any potential problems that one can imagine arising from the existing regulations might overwhelm the good they are known to do."
NPCA has obtained information through a request of the Freedom of Information Act, which clearly shows that current Park Service officials have grave concerns with the Department of Interior's proposal to allow loaded guns in the parks.
Members of the public are urged to learn more and submit their comments prior to the new August 8 deadline via NPCA's user-friendly web site at www.npca.org/keep_parks_safe