April 30th, 2008
Chairman Grijalva on Proposal to Allow Concealed Weapons in Our National Parks
Washington, D.C. — The Bush Administration recently released a proposal to change existing policies and allow visitors to carry concealed weapons into our National Parks and Park Service managed land, if allowed by state law where the Park is located.
Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva, Chairman of the Subcommittee on National Parks, Public Lands and National Forests, released the following statement:
“The Bush Administration’s proposed rule to permit unfettered access to concealed and loaded guns in our National Parks amounts to election year pandering. Our parks already operate under common sense regulations that have served the public and the Park system well for many years.
“The Administration is attempting to foster a sense of fear and paranoia about safety in our National Parks that statistics show are among the safest areas of our country. This National Park Service (NPS) proposed rule, coupled with other ill-conceived proposals for private shooting ranges on our National Forest lands continues misguided attempts to mandate incompatible uses on our public lands that do not comply with their established missions and just increase the financial burden on our already overtaxed public land systems.
“This proposed rule will create serious management conflicts for Park Service employees. Numerous National Parks cross state lines where state regulations conflict with each other and would be an enforcement nightmare. Funding for needed signage and public notification of these proposed gun regulations is simply not available and will force NPS units to shift funding from existing strained management accounts to cover these unfunded mandates for implementation of this proposed rule.
“Visitors to our National Parks should not have to fear for their safety from other visitors with loaded concealed guns while visiting our National Parks and their facilities. There are serious concerns about reactionary discharges aimed at wildlife that could potentially wound or kill wildlife and possibly neighboring campers and hikers.
“In addition, the existing regulations that prohibit concealed weapons in Parks were in large part enacted in order to reduce the incidence of poaching in our Parks. Should the new proposal be approved, poaching is extremely likely to increase.
“Accommodating concealed, loaded weapons in our National Park System’s diverse parks and educational facilities makes no sense. Locally in the DC metro region the NPS operates Wolf Trap National Park and Performance Center. Allowing concealed loaded guns where alcohol is served, and where large groups and families gather could create potential situations where impulsive actions could easily undermine the tranquil atmosphere and safety of patrons to this and many other Park System facilities.
“This proposed rule and other demands for increased gun use and accessibility will only foster greater uncertainty and conflicts among users of our public land and should not move forward.
“I call upon the Park Service and the Department of Interior to reconsider moving forward with this proposal and instead retain existing regulations which are protective of visitor and wildlife safety. I also urge the Park Service to conduct a full Environmental Impact Statement under the National Environmental Policy Act with public hearings around the country so that the public has the opportunity to comment on this misguided proposal.”