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No guns in parks

Editorial of Toledo Blade

THE U.S. Senate demonstrated an amazing case of timidity the other day in voting overwhelmingly to allow people to carry loaded guns in national parks.

How sad it is that so few members of that honorable chamber are not in the pocket of, or for lease by, the powerful gun lobby.

It is difficult to think otherwise when the gun provision, cleverly tucked onto must-pass legislation reforming credit card laws, is approved on a 67 to 29 vote.

That means 27 Democrats, 39 Republicans, and one independent have no problem with visitors carrying loaded weapons in national parks and on public lands administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

It apparently makes no difference that, according to 2006 FBI data, national parks are some of the safest places anywhere in the United States.

So what, exactly, is the wisdom behind introducing loaded guns into that kind of family friendly environment?

Yes, we’ve read the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Second Amendment gun rights, but we did not skip over the part in which the justices’ held that government may still impose reasonable restrictions on weapons. And the regulation against loaded guns in federal parks could not be any more reasonable.

The Senate measure, pushed by Republican Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, is simply a backdoor attempt to negate a federal court decision in March that overturned a last-minute rule implemented by the outgoing Bush administration.

The court rightly ruled against allowing people to take loaded guns into parks and wildlife refuges even if they had a permit for a concealed weapon and the state permitted weapons in parks.

The Obama Administration had prudently said it would not appeal the court decision and, if clear heads prevail on Capitol Hill, the Senate’s misguided amendment won’t survive in the final version of the legislation.

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