Help Repeal the National Park Service ban on common sense and self defense.
Under the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Title 36, Regulation 2.4, all weapons, traps and nets are banned in National Parks. Any implement you use in such a capacity counts. It's a Federal misdemeanor and the only practical exception is to petition the Park Superintendent if you are needing to protect pack animals in an emergency. It doesn't matter if the Parks property is in Alaska, or Florida, whether you face an 800 pound bear, or armed thug, the National Park Service would rather you be dead, than have a weapon that you could use to defend yourself. There is an effort underway to repeal this ban, replacing it with common sense regulations that respect the rights of the states to determine this and you can help.
On February 11, 2005, the Department of the Interior received A Petition for Rule Making to amend CFR 36, Regulation 2.4. The Virginia Citizen's Defense League, with over 40 co-petitioner organizations representing over 1 million citizens sponsored and submitted the Petition. Here's what it would change:
This 'paragraph' is incorporated into the existing rule - Except for self-defense, or defense of another, pursuant to the law of the state in which the park is located, the use of a weapon, trap or net in a manner that endangers persons or property is prohibited.
The amended regulation is then closed with: Notwithstanding any provision of this section, the possession or carrying of a firearm in compliance with Title 18, U.S. Code, Sec. 922(g), and the law of the state in which the park is located shall not violate this section.
That's all there is to it, the rest of the current regulation is preserved, intact, to maintain the ability of the NPS to regulate hunting, traps, nets, other recreational events, target shooting, etc. You can plainly see, the changes ONLY allow defensive use, NOTHING else.
You can help! Contact your U.S. Representative & 2 U.S. Senators and ask for their help. You can email, call, write a letter, and visit their offices, and you can do all of the above. An appointment & visit means the most, followed by a phone call, then a letter, then email. It's absolutely important that as many people do this as possible and it's really very easy.
Here are 2 one page sample letters in MS-Word format you can address and email, snail mail, and fax to your Senators and Representative. These letters briefly describe the issue to your Congressional delegation. If you use them, please follow up by calling your Senators and Representative.
By popular demand, here are the same letters in non-Microsoft, .PDF Letter for your Senators. Letter for your Representative.
Here are some tips for dealing with your Congressional delegation & their staff.
Go to their websites and send them a quick email about the VCDL Petition and ask for their support. Here's the important part - FOLLOW UP! Congressional staffs are very, very busy so don't just email and forget about it.
While you're on the website, get the phone number of the office headquarters near your and CALL THEM. If you get voice mail, leave a message, but call back later anyway. If don't get called back, don't be discouraged. Remember, these people are very busy dealing with concerns from other constituents. The time old addage "the squeaky door gets oiled first" applies. ALWAYS be polite!
Once you make phone contact, you'll likely have to speak with a specific person on the staff who handles "federal" issues. Once you get a hold of them, ask to meet at the office with them. Give them a brief description of the issue, and tell them that you'd like to go over this with them in person. If you can't do a visit right away, you can make your point by phone, but a visit is personal, and puts a face on your concerns. It also sends the message that you're serious enough to put time, effort and work into this.
Stay on top of this. Your Congressional delegation is paid a healthy 6 digit salary, plus a staff budget, and "privileges" in order to adequately address your concerns. They are paid to listen to you and do your bidding. That is their job. They're people too, just like the rest of us. They're no better, no worse. Be polite, respectful, and kind, but be firm, you need your Congressional delegation's support.
What kind of support? Anything the Representative or Senator will provide, but here are a few things to get started.
A letter of support for the VCDL Petition and ask for a copy. Ask them to send a letter to DOI. Ask that the letter express support for the common sense changes in VCDL's Petition, and that the Petition be immediately given "highest priority" as a matter of public safety and included in the very next published Federal Register for comment and subsequent implementation.
Ask your Representative / Senator to meet with the Department of the Interior to find out why the Petition is not being implemented after 2 years, and a commitment for when the Petition's amended regulation 2.4 will be completed.
Ask your Representative / Senator to request a hearing on why the Department has failed to respond to both Citizens and Congressional inquiries. Again, a commitment the implementation of the Petition's changes is critical. There is no "Good enough" from DOI, your Congressional delegation may politely suggest immediately, and more importantly, Congress controls the budget. A recalcitrant federal agency is countered by Congress exercising it's oversight authority and duty by witholding funds.
Ask your Representative / Senator to take action to reduce and withold funding from the National Park Service until they implement the changes in the VCDL Petition for Rule Making. You can also ask that Senators place a HOLD on any Interior Department appointments until we have meaningful results.
Given the timeline, and lack of response, there is certainly no reason why Congress should not correct this issue without delay. Attaching a repeal of regulation 2.4 to existing legislation would certainly be a consideration.
Remember, your Congressional delegation knows about dealing with federal agencies, so these are only suggestions you're making, but be firm that you want some action, and you want to see DOI approve this Petition.
Don't hesitate to "drop some names". There is already substantial Congressional support for this. Congressmen Goode, Murtha, T. Davis, Peterson, Cantor, Cannon; Senators Webb, Warner, & Specter have all expressed support for the Petition to constituents AND the Department of the Interior, among others.
Stay on message. The changes in the VCDL Petition are common sense, and only return the right of self defense to the people in Parks, there are no negatives, or downsides here.
Be friendly. You never know when you might run into someone with common interests; computers, cars, motorcycles, hunting, recreational shooting, other hobbies. Every little bit helps.
Rembmer before when I said "follow up"? Keep following up. A thank you email. A reminder phone call, whatever it is, just keep at it. Always be polite and respectful.
Here are some important facts about VCDL's Petition:
VCDL's petition would honor the individual rights to self defense and to bear arms for lawful, defensive purposes.
The current NPS regulation was crafted prior to the 5th US Circuit Emerson decision, respecting Individual rights to keep and bear arms under the 2nd Amendment, before the Department of Justice memorandum on the 2nd Amendment securing an individual right and before the leading constitutional scholars realized that the way out in left field 'collective' rights theory was dangerous to every freedom guaranteed by the Bill of Rights. Every single recent bill dealing with firearms contained Congressional Findings that the Second Amendment supports the individual rights to keep and bear arms.
VCDL's petition still preserves the National Parks authority to regulate recreational shooting, hunting and other firearm related activities. Again, only lawful carrying and defensive use would be permitted.
VCDL's petition would rightly defer any decision on whether a legal prohibition should exist to the States, respectively.
VCDL's petition would help ensure that an otherwise innocent and law abiding person would not be put in legal jeopardy for crossing an unposted, ambiguous boundary and violating a very little know regulation.
VCDL's petition, when adopted will enhance visitor safety, respecting the rights of the law abiding to protect themselves in America's National Parks.
Do you have questions about the VCDL petition to repeal the National Park Service ban on self defense? Ask here