Senate Votes to Allow Guns in National Parks

The U.S. Senate passed an amendment Tuesday by a 67-29 vote that will allow visitors to carry loaded firearms inside national parks and wildlife refuges. Offered by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., Senate Amendment 1067 would prevent the secretary of the Interior from promulgating or enforcing any regulation that prohibits an individual from possessing a firearm in any unit of the National Park System or the National Wildlife Refuge System if the individual is not otherwise prohibited by law from possessing the firearm and the possession of the firearm complies with the law of the state where the park or wildlife refuge is located.

The amendment is attached to H.R. 627, which would amend the Truth in Lending Act.

The text of Coburn's amendment explains the background of this issue: Section 27.42 of title 50, Code of Federal Regulations, states that, except in special circumstances, U.S. citizens may not 'possess, use, or transport firearms on national wildlife refuges' of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. The Bush administration issued new regulations that would allow firearms, and those regulations took effect Jan. 9, 2009, but a Washington, D.C. federal judge granted a preliminary injunction on March 19, 2009, to prevent those regulations from being implemented or enforced.

The amendment says "Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens on 83,600,000 acres of National Park System land and 90,790,000 acres of land under the jurisdiction of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service . . . . should not be infringed."

In a statement posted on his office Web site, Coburn cited 2006 data from the National Park Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service: 16 homicides (including one manslaughter charge), 41 rape cases (including two attempted rapes), 92 robberies, 16 kidnappings, and 333 aggravated assaults. "These offenses only include homicides and other crimes handled by national park and refuge law enforcement, but don't account for the homicides and crimes other law enforcement agencies processed," the statement said.

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