Palin Defends Rule Allowing Loaded Weapons in National Parks

Gov. Sarah Palin is a National Rifle Assocation (NRA) Life Member

Gov. Sarah Palin is a National Rifle Assocation (NRA) Life Member

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin wrote the Obama administration Tuesday to express her support for a last-minute Bush administration regulation that allows the carrying of concealed weapons in national parks.

Palin said the new measure provides Alaskans with a means of self-defense in a state with vast swaths of federally-protected wilderness.

“As you know, my state contains vast, pristine areas where the ability to carry firearms can address a potentially life-threatening situation, enabling citizens to respond to bear and other wildlife conflicts,” Palin wrote in a letter to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.

She added that “many urban and rural hunters utilize firearms in the pursuit of wildlife to satisfy their nutritional and cultural needs.”

The Bush administration lifted a 25-year-old federal ban on carrying loaded weapons in national parks and wildlife refuges in December, a policy change backed by the National Rifle Association but opposed by a coalition of park rangers and conservation groups who argued that wildlife areas would become less safe.

The new rule took effect on January 9, but Salazar has ordered a 90-day review of the environmental impact of the decision. Just last week, however, the Obama Justice Department defended the Bush regulation, arguing that it would not adversely impact the environment or public safety.

Under the regulation, park-goers carrying weapons must abide by state gun laws when visiting parks, laws Palin said are adequate and “will not detract from the purposes of national parks and wildlife refuges.”

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