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Last Day to Comment on "Loaded Conceal 'n' Carry" in Nat. Parks

June 30, 2008

Denver - Today is the last day for public comment on a proposed rule change that would allow loaded, concealed weapons in national parks, including Colorado's Rocky Mountain National Park. Current rules allow firearms in national parks as long as they are unloaded and safely stowed.

Following last week's Second Amendment ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court -- the first in decades to deal with gun control issues -- some say the comment period needs to be extended.

Bryan Faehner, legislative representative with the National Parks Conservation Association, says the public needs more time to review the high court's decision and its implications.

"Two days to digest 176 pages from this decision is not enough time. We're not asking for a lot here."

Proponents of the rule change say loaded weapons should be allowed in parks for protection from violent crime and wild animals. However, retired park ranger Doug Morris disagrees, saying that argument misses the mark.

"The likelihood of something like that happening in a national park is probably far less than the likelihood of being struck by lightning."

Morris thinks the new Supreme Court ruling speaks to the wisdom of the existing park rules, which ban loaded weapons.

"From my perspective, the parks fall into that area that Justice Scalia mentioned as 'sensitive areas;' places where loaded guns are not appropriate and not necessary."

The National Rifle Association says national parks should protect Second Amendment rights and abide by state guidelines. A big problem with the loaded-guns-in-parks proposal, opponents argue, is that some states would honor other states' concealed weapons permits and others would not, resulting in a patchwork of rules difficult for both the public and park rangers to follow.

Comments on the proposed rule may be submitted online until midnight tonight at www.npca.org.

Eric Mack/Steve Powers, Public News Service - CO