Washington, D.C. —This past week, an amendment to allow guns in national parks and wildlife refuges was attached to the Credit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights in the U.S. Senate, reversing a restriction that has been in place since the Reagan presidency. The bill is expected to come back for a vote before the House of Representatives early next week.
Senator Tom Coburn’s amendment to unrelated legislation designed to protect consumers from abuse by the credit card industry would allow individuals to openly carry rifles, shotguns, and semi-automatic weapons in national parks if the firearm is in compliance with State law. The legislation will be split to allow a separate vote on the guns amendment. Then, the guns provision will be merged back into the Credit Card legislation and sent to President Obama before the Memorial Day holiday.
Congressman Raúl M. Grijalva, Chairman of the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands releases this statement:
“So much for an easy, clean, must-pass credit card reform bill.
“When it comes to credit cards, doing the right thing and playing by the rules just doesn’t work because the companies are engaging in unfair and deceptive practices.
“And this past week, members of the Senate did the same thing, adding an unrelated and dangerous amendment to the credit card reform bill, without any real debate.
“There is no reason to be tacking on irrelevant provisions to “must-pass” bills. Knowing that the President has said he wants the measure by Memorial Day, it’s a cheap way to sneak in provisions that should be fully and openly debated on their own merits.
“The Coburn amendment will significantly increase the number of loaded readily accessible firearms in crowded, family-oriented places like Yellowstone National Park; guaranteeing that more disagreements between visitors turn deadly and more accidents in the back-country prove fatal.
“The amendment also forbids reasonable restrictions on loaded weapons during special events, celebrations, or visits from dignitaries requiring extra security. Thanks to the Coburn amendment, it will be vastly more difficult, if not impossible, to protect the President or other world leaders during visits to national parks.
“This amendment could hamper efforts by park rangers to halt poaching, a chronic problem in many national park units throughout the country that is increasing because of the illegal international animal parts trade.
According to the National Park Service, poaching is suspected to be a factor in the decline of at least 29 species of wildlife and could cause the extirpation of 19 species from the parks. It will make it more difficult to apprehend these individuals because possession and display of a weapon would no longer be probable cause to initiate a search for evidence of wildlife or wildlife parts.
“Let’s be clear: I am not arguing that the government should take guns from its citizens. And the majority of gun owners coming into parks would never use their guns to illegally kill or injure wildlife. But our public lands are among the safest and most pristine places in the country. To allow this amendment to pass seriously jeopardizes and health and safety of the many people who use our National Parks.
“There is simply no legitimate or substantive reason for a thoughtful sportsman or gun owner to carry a loaded gun in a national park unless that park permits hunting. The requirement that guns in parks are unloaded and put away is a reasonable restriction for the protection of precious park resources and the safety of visitors.
“I strongly urge the House and Senate leadership and President Obama to strip this harmful amendment and pass a clean credit card reform bill.”