Federal judge enjoins rule permitting concealed weapons in national parks

[JURIST] A judge for the US District Court for the District of Columbia [official website] on Thursday granted a preliminary injunction [opinion, PDF] against a federal rule [50 CFR § 27.42 text] that permits the possession of "concealed, loaded and operable" hand guns in national parks and wildlife refuges in accordance with state laws. The rule was a enacted late in the term of former president George W. Bush [official website; JURIST news archive]. Historically, the Department of the Interior [official website] (DOI) permitted [36 CFR § 2.4(a)(2) text] only "packed, cased or stored" weapons to avoid ready use. The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and the National Parks Conservation Association [advocacy websites] brought suit claiming the DOI did not prepare an environmental assessment or an environmental impact statement prior to enactment, pursuant to the National Environmental Protection Act [42 USC § 4331 text]. The DOI argued the rule did not authorize environmental impacts, thus no study was needed. The court held the rule was a result of an "astonishingly flawed process" by the DOI and their defense invoking a categorical exclusion was "arbitrary and capricious."

This injunction follows a memorandum [text, PDF; JURIST report] by White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel [official profile] to agency and department leaders requesting the review of pending regulations that were advanced late in the Bush administration. Additionally, challenges to firearm restrictions [JURIST report] have become increasingly common since the Supreme Court's 5-4 decision in District of Columbia v. Heller [Duke Law backgrounder; JURIST report], in which the Court affirmed a decision invalidating the District of Columbia handgun ban [JURIST report]. Heller marked the first occasion that the Supreme Court directly addressed the Second Amendment since 1939's US v. Miller [opinion].



 

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