Hold your holsters. Court blocks disputed national parks gun rule

A federal judge has temporarily blocked implementation of a controversial 11th-hour Bush administration rule that would allow people to carry loaded, concealed guns in national parks, wildlife refuges and historical centers, according to the Washington Post.

The WaPo reports that U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly issued the temporary injunction based on a lawsuit brought by environmental and gun-control advocates:

In her ruling, Kollar-Kotelly agreed that the government’s process had been “astoundingly flawed.”

She noted that the government justified its decision to forgo an environmental analysis on the grounds that the rule does not “authorize” environmental impacts. Calling this a “tautology,” she wrote that officials “abdicated their Congressionally-mandated obligation” to evaluate environmental impacts and “ignored (without sufficient explanation) substantial information in the administrative record concerning environmental impacts” of the rule.

An April 20 deadline was set by the judge for the Interior Dept. to review the rule and propose a response to the injunction.

The controversial midnight regulation rolls back a 25-year-old Reagan administration rule that required guns to be unloaded and stowed away. Not surprisingly, the National Rifle Association backs the new rule that would allow gun enthusiasts with state concealed-carry permits to pack heat on public lands and historical centers managed by the National Park Service.

The new gun rule has generated tremendous hue and cry from environmentalists, national park leaders, gun violence groups and Park Service retirees.

The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and the National Parks Conservation Association sued to block the rule’s implementation. The Brady Campaign characterized the rule as a “parting gift” from the Bush administration to the gun lobby.

National park visitors hoping for a peaceful stroll through natural wonders sans pistol-packing may not have a friend in Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. The rule was supported by then-Sen. Salazar before he was tapped by President Barack Obama to lead the Interior Department.

An Interior Department spokeswoman declined to comment, citing the ongoing court case.

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