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July 3rd, 2008
Comment Period Extended for 30 days on Proposal to Allow Loaded Firearms in Parks

Comments on Proposal Due July 30, 2008

Washington, DC – Today, the Department of Interior announced a 30-day extension of the comment period on the proposal to allow loaded guns in National Parks and National Wildlife Refuges. Comments from interested members of the public are now due July 30, 2008.

On June 26, 2008, chairmen of the subcommittees with jurisdiction over National Parks in the House and Senate wrote to the Secretary of Interior requesting an extension of the comment period which was set to expire on June 30, 2008. Senator Daniel K. Akaka, Chair of the Senate Subcommittee on National Parks, and Congressman Raúl M. Grijalva, Chair of the House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands, stressed to the Secretary that the previous 60-day comment period was an inadequate amount of time to allow the public to comment on such a controversial and complex proposal.

“While a longer extension such as the 60 days Senator Akaka and I requested would have been a more appropriate timeframe for the public to comment on this major change to current policies, I am pleased that at least the Interior Department is willing to give the public a bit more time to provide meaningful input on the issue,” stated Rep. Grijalva. “It is my hope that ultimately the Department will decide to abandon this ill-advised idea for the safety of park visitors and wildlife alike.”

“National Parks have long been a place where families and individuals can enjoy a peaceful connection with the natural environment and wildlife,” stated Senator Akaka. “ Parks should be safe for children and visitors of all ages, as well as for park employees and animals that inhabit the parks. While I am pleased by the granting of an extension, I am hopeful that the Department of Interior will give serious consideration to the public comments, and the consequences of allowing loaded guns on parks.”

The Department of Interior’s proposal would allow visitors to carry loaded, concealed firearms in National Parks and Wildlife Refuges in states where guns are allowed in parks and refuges under state law, a change from current regulations which require guns to be unloaded and locked away during visits to parks.

The existing regulations which prohibit loaded guns in parks were enacted in the early 1980’s, during the Reagan administration.

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