The Bush administration has formally proposed to scrap a longtime ban against bringing loaded weapons into national parks and wildlife areas, McClatchy Newspapers report. Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne announced the beginning of a 60-day public comment period on the plan. An individual could carry a concealed weapon in national parks and wildlife refuges if he or she is authorized to do so on similar state lands in the state where the national park or refuge is located.
National Park Service employee advocacy groups and the National Parks Conservation Association said the proposed change would lead to confusion for visitors, rangers, and other law enforcement agencies. “This is purely and simply a politically driven effort to solve a problem that doesn’t exist. There are no existing data that suggest any public interest to be gained by allowing visitors to parks to possess concealed handguns,” said Bill Wade, chairman of the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees. The Interior Department said the current regulations were adopted in 1981 but that many states have enacted new firearm policies since then; 48 states allow for the lawful possession of concealed weapons.