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Packing Heat May Soon Be Legal in Arizona National Parks

May 20, 2009

Tucson, AZ – Loaded guns, including semi-automatic weapons, soon may be openly carried by visitors to national parks in Arizona and elsewhere in the country, under a bill approved Tuesday in the U.S. Senate.

Bill Wade, with the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees, is a former Shenandoah National Park superintendent. Wade says the bill goes even farther than a Bush administration rule that was struck down in court. That rule allowed permit holders to carry concealed weapons.

"This amendment would allow any firearm to be carried in a national park or wildlife refuge as long as it's consistent with state law. If a state allows shotguns to be carried openly, then that would be the situation in its national parks as well."

Supporters of the gun measure say it protects Second Amendment rights and gives Americans the ability to protect themselves everywhere in their states, including these public lands.

Until January, national park visitors could carry only weapons that were unloaded and locked away. Wade agrees with several other former National Park Service officials that the previous strict firearm regulations made the parks some of the safest places in the nation.

"All you have to do is compare the statistics for crimes in national parks - in particular crimes that involve firearms or weapons of that nature - to every place else, and you'll see that the incidence of those kinds of crimes is much, much lower in national parks."

The gun amendment was attached to an unrelated bill imposing new restrictions on credit card companies.

Doug Ramsey, Public News Service - AZ