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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

National Park Service Announces Proposed Rule on Guns

The U.S. Department of Interior (DOI), through the National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, issued a proposed rule yesterday (April 29) to amend regulations prohibiting firearms in National Parks and Wildlife Refuges. The NRA has worked tirelessly behind the scences for the last several years to amend the existing policy regarding the carrying and transportation of firearms on these federal lands.

The proposed rule was filed today and will be published in the Federal Register tomorrow, and can be found online here. It provides sixty days for public comment.

These new regulations will provide uniformity across our nation’s federal lands and put an end to the patchwork of regulations that governed different lands managed by different federal agencies. In the past, only Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Forest Service lands allowed the carrying of firearms, while lands managed by DOI did not.

The public has basically been left defenseless when they entered DOI property which were virtually safety free zones. Now, if the proposed amendments are adopted, the public will have the ability to protect themselves from predators (mostly the two-legged kind) while they are in National Parks and Wildlife Refuges.

The current regulations on possession, carry or transportation of loaded or uncased firearms in national parks were proposed in 1982 and finalized in 1983. Similar restrictions apply in national wildlife refuges. Amendments to those regulations were needed to reflect the changed legal situations with respect to state laws on carrying firearms that have occurred over the last 15 - 20 years.

As of the end of 1982, only six states routinely allowed citizens to carry handguns for self-defense. Currently, 48 states have a process for issuing licenses or permits to allow law-abiding citizens to legally carry firearms for self-defense. Two states do not require permits, 38 states have a “shall-issue” permit process, and eight have a discretionary process for issuing permits.

This move will restore the rights of law-abiding gun owners who wish to transport and carry firearms for lawful purposes on most DOI lands, and will make federal law consistent with the state law in which these lands are located. Fifty-one U.S. Senators sent a bipartisan letter to the Department of Interior supporting the move to make state firearms laws applicable to National Park lands and refuges.

VSSA will keep Virginia gun owners informed on this process.

1 comment:

Lauren L. Dillard said...

The Oregonian is talking about this topic. Click on to join the debate.