From Snowmobiles to Firearms
For those who thought that snowmobiles in Yellowstone were a bad idea, watch out! The Bush administration proposed new rules today that would allow people to carry concealed firearms in national parks and wildlife refuges. The change would scrap a 25-year-old law banning loaded weapons on national parkland, instead aligning federal rules with those of the state where the park is located.
In a statement, Interior Dept. Secretary Dirk Kempthorne said that states have the right to develop their own gun laws, "and [we] believe that our management of parks and refuges should defer to those state laws." He added that:
The safety and protection of park and refuge visitors remains a top priority for the Department of the Interior. The proposed regulations will incorporate current state laws authorizing the possession of concealed firearms, while continuing to maintain important provisions to ensure visitor safety and resource protection.
Some lawmakers aren’t so sure. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Cal.) immediately shot out a statement blasting the proposal as an "appalling" gesture that "puts both people and animals at risk."
This change makes no sense. It would create an incoherent, ineffective, and inconsistent patchwork of policies — across the country, and in some places within the same national parks. For example, Death Valley National Park is in California and Nevada. California prohibits loaded and accessible weapons in its state parks. Nevada does not. So which state law would apply at Death Valley National Park?
The public has 60 days to comment on the proposal.