Monday, June 2, 2008

Department of Interior Considers Lifting Firearm Ban

The Department of Interior, under which both the National Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reside, is considering lifting a ban on concealed firearms in national parks and wildlife refuges. Proposed new regulations that would allow visitors to carry loaded, concealed firearms in national parks if the state where a national park unit is located permits people to carry concealed firearms in their state parks. This would be a first and has caused concern for many ardent park supporters while other groups are very much in favor of the proposed rules.

Gun rights advocates, notably the National Rifle Assn., have said the ban infringes on their 2nd Amendment rights to bear arms and their ability to defend themselves from predators, both human and animal. "If you're hiking in the backcountry and there is a problem with a criminal or an aggressive animal, there's no 911 box where you can call police and have a 60-second response time," said Gary S. Marbut, president of the Montana Shooting Sports Assn.

Some in the National Park Service feel that parks have long been safe havens for both wildlife and people. Charles R. Farabee, a former acting superintendent at Montana's Glacier National Park said, "there need to be places in this country where people can feel secure without guns and know that the guy in the campground across the way does not have one."

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