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Ready, Aim, Fire: A Bill Allowing Guns in National Park Heads to Obama

May 22, 2009

Seattle, WA — Packing heat may soon be legal in Washington's national parks. Congress has voted to allow people to carry loaded guns in parks, including Mount Rainier and Olympic National Parks.

The bill is a disappointment for gun-control advocates, like retired park ranger Andy Ringgold. He says parks are some of the safest places in the state, and allowing loaded guns is just asking for trouble.

"There’s no justification, there’s no data that show parks are unsafe places, or that personal possession of firearms in parks is going to make visitors any safer."

Bill Wade, with the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees, says the bill goes even further 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. So, if a state allows shotguns to be carried openly, then that would be the situation in national parks as well."

Supporters of the gun measure say it would protect Second Amendment rights and would give Americans the ability to protect themselves everywhere within their states, including public lands. President Obama has indicated he wants to sign the legislation before Memorial Day.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - WA