Brady Campaign Sues Interior Department Over Rule Allowing Concealed Guns In Parks, Will Seek Injunction

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Peter Hamm,
Communications Director
Doug Pennington,
Assistant Director: 202-898-0792.

Brady Campaign Sues Interior Department Over Rule Allowing Concealed Guns In Parks, Will Seek Injunction

WASHINGTON - The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence today filed suit in federal
court asking that the court strike down a last-minute Bush
Administration rule change allowing concealed, loaded firearms in
national parks and wildlife refuges. 

The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of
Columbia, and seeks an injunction to block the rule, which is scheduled
to go into effect on January 9, 2009.

"The Bush Administration's last-minute gift to the gun lobby, allowing
concealed semiautomatic weapons in national parks, jeopardizes the
safety of park visitors in violation of federal law," said Brady
Campaign President Paul Helmke.  "We should not be making it easier for
dangerous people to carry concealed firearms in our parks."

Attorneys with the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence's Legal Action
Project and the law firm Ropes & Gray in Washington, D.C. are
representing the Brady Campaign in this case.  To read the complaint,
go to www.bradycenter.org/xshare/pdf/kempthorne-complaint.pdf.

The rule will allow guns in rural and urban national park areas around
the country, from Wyoming's Yellowstone and California's Yosemite to
Philadelphia's Independence National Historical Park, home of the
Liberty Bell.  The suit was filed on behalf of the Brady Campaign and
its members, including school teachers in the New York and Washington,
D.C. areas who are canceling or curtailing school trips to Ellis Island
and the Statue of Liberty and the National Mall in Washington, D.C now
that the Bush Administration will be allowing guns in these national
park areas.

The suit charges that the Interior Department violated several federal
laws in its rush to implement the rule before President Bush leaves
office, including failing to conduct any environmental review of the
harm that the rule will cause, as is required by the National
Environmental Policy Act.  The Department also violated a White House
directive that no rules should be issued after November 1, 2008, except
in "extraordinary circumstances," issuing the last-minute rule change
on December 10, 2008.  The rule also violates the National Park Service
Organic Act and the National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act,
which created the parks and wildlife refuges as protected lands for
safe enjoyment of all visitors.

Rules in place since the Reagan Administration have allowed visitors to
transport guns in national parks and wildlife refuges if they are
unloaded and stored or dismantled.  These restrictions have helped make
these areas some of the safest places to visit in the country. Yet at
the behest of the gun lobby, the Interior Department announced earlier
this year that it planned to allow concealed firearms in national parks
and wildlife refuges. Concealed carrying will be allowed in every state
that allows concealed carrying, even if the state specifically bans the
practice in state parks.  Only Illinois and Wisconsin prohibit
concealed carrying. 

Numerous studies have confirmed that concealed carrying of firearms
does not reduce crime and, if anything, leads to increased violent
crime. Experience in states that have allowed concealed carrying of
firearms has shown that thousands of dangerous people are able to get
licenses.  In Florida, for example, more than 4,200 licenses were
revoked because many of these licensees committed a crime. Since
becoming the first state to allow the concealed carrying of firearms in
1987, Florida consistently has had one of the highest rates of violent
crime in the nation. Florida has been ranked as the state with the
highest annual violent crime rate more often than any other state in
the last two decades.

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The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence and its legislative and grassroots affiliate, the Brady Campaign and its dedicated network of Million Mom March Chapters, is the nation's largest, non-partisan, grassroots organization leading the fight to prevent gun violence.

We are devoted to creating an America free from gun violence, where all Americans are safe at home, at school, at work, and in our communities.

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