WASHINGTON — The Senate has approved a measure that would allow people to carry loaded guns in national parks and wildlife refuges.
Republican Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma sponsored the amendment, which would restore a Bush administration policy allowing loaded guns in national parks. Read more
“If an American citizen has a right to carry a firearm in their state, it makes no sense to treat them like a criminal if they pass through a national park while in possession of a firearm,” Coburn said.
Twenty-seven Democrats joined 39 Republicans and one independent in supporting the amendment, which was attached to a bill imposing restrictions on credit card companies. The amendment was approved 67-29.
Groups supporting gun control, park rangers and retirees opposed the amendment, which they said went further than a Bush administration policy that briefly allowed loaded handguns in national parks and refuges.
A federal judge blocked the policy in March, two months after it went into effect in the waning days of President George W. Bush's term. The Obama administration has said it will not appeal the court ruling.
“This amendment is much more radical than the regulation promulgated by the Bush administration,” said Bryan Faehner, associate director of the National Parks Conservation Association, an advocacy group that opposes guns in parks.
If the measure becomes law “it would not only put park visitors and wildlife at risk, it would change the character and the peaceful and safe atmosphere in our parks,” Faehner said.
Faehner's group sent a letter to senators Tuesday stating that Coburn's amendment would allow individuals to openly carry rifles, shotguns, and semiautomatic weapons in national parks. “As a result, individuals could attend ranger-led hikes and campfire programs with their rifles at Yellowstone National Park and other national park treasures across the country,” the letter said.
Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, called the Senate vote reckless. Read more