Thanks to the gun control lobby, people who might be attacked while visiting any of our vast and often remote national park areas have once again been rendered largely defenseless. A ruling March 19th by a federal judge in Washington, DC, has at least temporarily overturned a rule issued in December by the Bush Administration. The ruling by the Bush Interior Department would have allowed campers, hikers and other persons travelling through or in any of our national park areas, to possess a loaded firearm to defend themselves, so long as they complied with the firearms laws of the state in which the federal park was located. Now, thanks to the judge’s ruling, a person may only possess that firearm if it is unloaded and packed away where it is not readily accessible. In other words, now you can only possess a firearm for self defense while hiking in a national park if the gun is kept somewhere and in such condition that it is not available to defend yourself!
The judge’s ruling is based not on facts, laws or policies that are even remotely relevant to consideration of the right of self-defense or any other legitimate interpretation of federal power. Rather, the judge pegged her ridiculous ruling on the fact that the Bush Interior Department had failed to conduct an extensive environmental impact assessment of the new rule’s effect before implementing it. An environmental impact assessment! In other words, according to the judge’s “reasoning,” even though the pre-existing rule (which is now once again the current rule) allowed a person to carry a firearm in a national park so long as it was unloaded and packed away, and the proposed rule would simply have permitted that very same firearm to be carried loaded rather than unloaded, the administration should nonetheless have engaged in a lengthy and costly environmental impact study — a process likely to have continued for years.
Once again, we are seeing the environmental laws, enacted initially in the 1970s, applied to matters and situations not remotely contemplated to have been covered by those laws, in order to thwart a rule from being implemented because a liberal interest group — in this case, the Brady gun control organization — doesn’t like the policy to be implemented. The National Rifle Association has filed suit to overturn the judge’s ruling.
Even though some Park Rangers have praised the ruling, the real beneficiaries of the ruling are criminals who prey on defenseless campers and hikers — people like Gary Hilton, who has been linked to, charged with, or confessed to several murders in national park areas.