For Immediate Release
Assistant Director: 202-898-0792.
Obama Administration to Pay $140,000 for Defending "Flawed" Bush Administration "Guns in Parks" Rule
WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of the Interior has agreed to pay $140,000 in
attorneys’ fees for defending, against a court challenge by the Brady Campaign, a legally flawed rule allowing the carrying of loaded guns in national parks
and wildlife refuges. A federal court found the rule, announced in the
waning days of the Bush Administration and defended in court by the
Obama Administration, to be “astoundingly flawed.”
award vindicates the Brady Campaign’s challenge to the Bush
Administration’s rule allowing guns in our national parks,” said Paul
Helmke, President of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. “It is
unfortunate that Congress, with President Obama’s consent, chose to
override the rules-making process and the court and expose families to
the risks of gun violence in our national parks and national wildlife
The Interior Department in 2008 repealed a Reagan-era
ban on carrying loaded guns in national parks and wildlife refuges. The
Brady Campaign filed suit on December 30, 2008, to block the rule. A federal court granted an injunction on
March 19, 2009, finding that the rule was the product of an
“astoundingly flawed process” and that the Brady Campaign was “highly
likely to prevail” in showing that the rule was illegal.
Brady Campaign’s lawsuit charged that the Interior Department violated
numerous federal laws in its rush to implement the rule before President
Bush left office, including failing to conduct any environmental review
of the harm that the rule would cause, as is required by the National
Environmental Policy Act.
After the federal court blocked the guns in parks rule, Congress, without hearings, added an amendment to
the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure (CARD) Act
of 2009, overriding the court and repealing the Reagan-era ban.
President Obama signed the Credit Card Act, which contained the
unrelated gun amendment, into law in May 2009. That allowed handguns and
semi-automatic assault weapons in national park areas, from Yellowstone
and Yosemite to Independence National Historical Park, home of the
Liberty Bell. Rules in place since the Reagan Administration had
allowed visitors to transport guns in national parks and wildlife
refuges only if they were unloaded and stored or dismantled.
studies have confirmed that concealed carrying of firearms does not
reduce crime and, if anything, leads to increased violent crime. In
states that allow concealed carrying of firearms, thousands of dangerous
people have been able to get licenses, and many have committed violent
crimes. 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 20 years.
Court award settles the Brady Campaign’s claim for attorneys’ fees
under the Equal Access to Justice Act. That Act allows attorneys’ fees
to be paid if a federal agency’s defense of a rule is not “substantially
justified.” The Brady Campaign was represented by attorneys with the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence and by a team of attorneys at the law firm Ropes & Gray LLP.
“We are pleased to have represented the Brady Campaign successfully in
both the original litigation striking down the Interior Department rule,
as well as in its efforts to recover attorneys’ fees under the Equal
Access to Justice Act,” said Augustine Ripa, part of the Ropes &
Gray legal team. Ropes & Gray intends to use its portion of the fee
award in support of additional work for organizations and individuals
in need of pro bono legal counsel.
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