NRA Appeals Ruling About Loaded Weapons in Parks

WASHINGTON (AP) - The National Rifle Association on Friday
appealed a federal court ruling that blocked a Bush administration
policy allowing people to carry concealed, loaded guns in national
parks.

The decision, issued Thursday by U.S. District Judge Colleen
Kollar-Kotelly, halted a regulation from the waning days of the
Bush administration. The rule, which took effect in January,
allowed visitors to carry a loaded gun into a park or wildlife
refuge as long as the person had a permit for a concealed weapon
and the state where the park or refuge was located allowed
concealed firearms. Previously, guns in parks had been severely
restricted.

Chris W. Cox, the NRA's chief lobbyist, said the group will
pursue all legal and legislative options. The NRA had pushed for
the Bush rule change and was granted legal standing in a lawsuit
brought by gun-control advocates and environmental groups.

"We didn't give up in the fight to change the old, outdated
rule and we are going to pursue every legal and legislative avenue
to defend the American people's right to self-defense," Cox said
Friday.

In her 44-page ruling, Judge Kollar-Kotelly called the Interior
Department's rule-making process "astoundingly flawed" and said
officials failed to evaluate the possible environmental impacts of
the rule change, as required by law. The judge set an April 20
deadline for the Interior Department to indicate its likely
response to the preliminary injunction she granted.

The Obama administration had said it was reviewing the Bush rule
but had defended it in court. A spokeswoman for Interior Secretary
Ken Salazar says the department is reviewing its options.

Sen. Max Baucus, a Montana Democrat who pushed for the Bush rule
change, said Friday he was not giving up.

"I'm an avid supporter of the Second Amendment, and I will
continue to fight on behalf of gun owners," Baucus said. "I will
continue to push so that any law-abiding citizen, in accordance
with state law, can carry their guns in national parks."

Meanwhile, several groups representing park employees praised
the judge's ruling.

"We have said from the beginning that the (Interior Department)
was proposing a solution for a problem that did not exist," said
Bill Wade, former superintendent of Virginia's Shenandoah National
Park and chairman of the executive council of the Coalition of
National Park Service Retirees. "The department presented no
evidence during its rule making that a change was needed."


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