CeaseFire PA Condemns Vote to Allow Guns in National Parks

On May 20, 2009, CeaseFirePA strongly criticized leading members of Pennsylvania’s congressional delegation – including Senators Bob Casey and Arlen specter – for succumbing to pressure from the NRA and voting to allow people to carry loaded guns into national parks. "I am appalled that members of Congress in the Pennsylvania delegation – particularly Senators Casey and Specter – voted for this shameless amendment to allow guns in our national parks," said Phil Goldsmith, president of CeaseFirePA’s board of directors. "This amendment means people can now carry loaded guns into the Independence Park area, into Washington Square Park, and Valley Forge National Park as well. "This amendment – proffered to appease the narrow, special interest of the NRA – may also have a negative effect on tourism in the Philadelphia area," Goldsmith continued. "We depend on tourism dollars and tourists coming from all over the country to visit Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, and other historic sites in Independence Park. People may think twice about visiting if they know someone’s walking around that area with a loaded weapon. It’s terrible public policy." The guns-in-parks vote occurred as an amendment to important economic legislation in the House and Senate designed to curb abuses of consumers by the credit card industry. In the final days of the Bush Administration, a rule permitting concealed, loaded firearms in national parks was pushed into effect. In March, a Federal District Judge struck down the policy. After passage of the economic legislation in the House, The NRA, with help from complacent pro-gun Senators, inserted an amendment reinstating the Bush-era rule – once again opening National parks to persons carrying loaded firearms. Upon returning to the House, the sullied legislation passed 279-147. CeaseFire PA applauds the fortitude of Congressional Leaders Bob Brady, Chaka Fattah, Allyson Schwartz, Joe Sestak, and Mike Doyle – and thanks them for standing up to the NRA’s "all guns, all the time, everywhere" agenda. The following members of Pennsylvania’s Congressional Delegation voted in favor of allowing guns to be carried into National parks – and permitting such legislation to be inserted into unrelated economic guidelines: Altmire, Carney, Dahlkemper, Dent, Gerlach, Kanjorski, Holden, Patrick Murphy, Tim Murphy, Murtha, Pitts, Platts, Shuster, and Thompson. CeaseFirePA also singled out Rep. Patrick Murphy of Bucks County for voting in favor of guns in parks. Murphy, a moderate Democrat, has consistently sided with the gun lobby on recent key votes in Congress, including this one and last fall's vote denying Washington, DC's right to enact local gun laws. "Congressman Murphy can't have it both ways," said Goldsmith. "He wants to be seen as a moderate, but increasingly is a loyal vote for the gun lobby. I'm deeply disappointed, and urge Congressman Murphy to change his position and vote in favor of common sense gun laws for our nation." CeaseFirePA, echoing calls from other leading gun violence prevention organizations, urged President Obama to veto any legislation that recklessly injects concealed guns, including AK-47s, into our national parks. "Under firearms restrictions that have been in place since the Reagan presidency, our parks have remained some of the safest places in this country," Goldsmith said. "Allowing AK-47s into our national parks, as this legislation would do, places hikers and nature lovers at risk merely to show fealty to a powerful and extremist special interest - the gun lobby. After a raft of mass shootings, and hundreds of Americans dying each week from gun violence, the American people are looking to the White House for principled leadership and sound judgment. It is deeply disappointing that the President and Congress have again ignored the judgment of law enforcement and the safety of Americans, and instead caved in to the gun lobby." JSPAN is an active member of CeaseFirePA. Please don't forget to act now to keep our parks safe. Together we must stop a reckless amendment to allow people to carry loaded guns, including AK-47s, in national parks. U.S. Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) added the amendment to completely unrelated legislation, which was written to protect credit card users. Urge your legislator to strip the Coburn amendment from the credit card legislation. Contact your Representative in Congress TODAY. Bob Brady (202) 225-4731 Chaka Fattah (202) 225-4001 Jim Gerlach (202) 225-4315 Patrick Murphy (202) 225-4276 Joe Sestak (202) 225-2011 Allyson Schwartz (202) 225-6111 If you do not know who your Representative is, click here.