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Lighter Gun Restrictions Coming to a National Park Near You

When Congress passed new consumer protections for credit card holders last May, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) successfully attached a not-at-all-related amendment allowing firearms in national parks, so long as gun carriers comply with laws of the state in which the park is located. That law is now scheduled to take effect on Feb. 22.

In preview, the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees has released examples of some of the activities soon to be permitted under the new statute.

In Wyoming’s Yellowstone Park, for example, backcountry hikers will be free to openly carry firearms. At Virginia’s Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts, concertgoers — including those picnicking on the lawn — will have the same opportunity. In Alaska’s Denali and Colorado’s Mesa Verde parks, handguns in holsters might soon be in fashion. Visitors to Pennsylvania’s Gettysburg National Park — a popular field-trip destination for the area’s public schools — will be able to carry rifles across those battlefields. The list goes on.

For it’s part, CNPSR opposes the changes, citing the heightened risk for rangers and the increased likelihood that wildlife — as well as natural and historical monuments — will become irresistible targets.

“A feeling of safety and security will be replaced by wariness and suspicion,” Bill Wade, chair of CNPSR’s executive council and former head of Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park, said in a statement. “This diminishes some of the ‘specialness and reverence’ our citizens have long accorded to their national parks.”

Too bad for Wade that his voice doesn’t carry quite so far on Capitol Hill as that of the National Rifle Association.

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