Guns in National Parks: Gov't Issues New Rules

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Making good on his promise a few months back, Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne plans to make new rules concerning the allowance of guns in national parks available for public review and comment within the next week. The new rules are expected to loosen regulations so that gun rules in national parks closely match state rules for non-park areas. 

"We are taking a fresh look at that (rule) because since the 1980s, when it was put in place, there have been a variety of state law changes. We just want to bring this up so we are current," Kempthorne said. "We want to be consistent in affirming what they are doing and see where we can be in concert with that," he said, noting there will be a 60-day comment period "so we can see what the public's thoughts are" as well. 

The former Utah governor said he would make his personal position "very clear" when he releases the rules, possibly this week.

The NRA and 51 senators who've urged the review allege that current rules "infringe on the rights of law-abiding gun owners." Meanwhile, Seven former directors of the National Park Service, the Association of National Park Rangers and park advocacy organizations such as the National Parks Conservation Association believe the current rules are essential for both protecting both the safety of park resources and its visitors.

Most Backpacker readers' position also seems to be "very clear": In a reader poll appearing next month, you voted against allowing guns in our national parks, 74 percent to 26 percent.

— Ted Alvarez

New rules readied on guns in national parks (Mercury News)