The Obama administration is defending in court a last-minute Bush administration rule that allows concealed firearms in national parks, even as it is internally reviewing whether the measure meets environmental standards, the Washington Post reports. In a response to a suit by gun-control and environmental groups, the Justice Department sought to block a preliminary injunction of the rule. The regulation, which took effect Jan. 9, allows visitors to bring concealed, loaded guns into national parks and wildlife refuges; for more than two decades they were allowed in such areas only if unloaded, or stored and dismantled.
The groups seeking to overturn the rule — the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, the National Parks Conservation Association, and the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees — say Bush violated several laws in issuing the rule, such as failing to conduct an adequate environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act. They argue that the new policy could deter some visitors, such as school groups, from visiting national landmarks. Still, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has asked for an internal assessment of whether the measure has any environmental impacts the government needs to take into account.