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Judge halts rule allowing guns in parks

A review is ordered on a change in regulations that lifted a ban on concealed, loaded guns in national parks and wildlife refuges.

March 20, 2009|Associated Press

WASHINGTON — A judge on Thursday blocked a federal rule allowing people to carry concealed, loaded guns in national parks and wildlife refuges.

The decision by U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly halts a change in regulations issued in the waning days of the Bush administration and orders further review. She set an April 20 deadline for the Interior Department to review the rule and indicate its course of action in response to the injunction.

The rule, which took effect Jan. 11, allowed visitors to carry a loaded gun into a park or wildlife refuge if the person had a permit for a concealed weapon and if the state where the park or refuge was located allowed concealed firearms. Previously, guns in parks had been severely restricted.

The Obama administration had said it was reviewing the Bush rule but had defended it in court.

A spokeswoman for Interior Secretary Ken Salazar declined to comment Thursday, citing the ongoing court case.

The Bush administration issued the rule in December in response to letters from half the Senate asking officials to lift the restrictions on guns in parks, which were adopted by the Reagan administration in the early 1980s.

The rule went further than a draft proposal issued a year ago and would have allowed concealed weapons even in parks in states that prohibit guns in state parks. Some states allow concealed weapons but ban guns from parks.

The National Rifle Assn. had pushed for the change, saying law-abiding citizens had the right to protect themselves and their families in national parks and wildlife refuges.

A group representing park rangers, retirees and conservation organizations protested the change, saying it could increase danger for visitors, rangers and other law enforcement.

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