On Feb. 22, an amendment to the Credit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights Act of 2009, authored by Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), which permits national park visitors to possess firearms consistent with the laws of the state in which the park is located, is set to go into effect. However, not everyone is happy.
The law was supported by the National Rifle Association (NRA), but has come under criticism from other groups, including Coalition of National Park Service Retirees (CNPSR).
The organization has said it is a significant departure from long-established gun regulations that allowed visitors to possess guns in parks only if they were stowed away and unloaded.
According to the group, numerous parks will be affected, but it highlighted 11 major ones of particular concern, including the Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona, a state that has permissive gun laws.
"While standing on Mather Point, enjoying the breathtaking view of the canyon, you could see another visitor with an assault rifle slung on his shoulder," CNPSR warned.
"[It] will have a chilling effect [as] a feeling of safety and security will be replaced by wariness and suspicion," said Bill Wade, chair of CNPSR’s executive council, adding that "This diminishes some of the ‘specialness and reverence’ our citizens have long accorded to national parks."
CNPSR also expressed concern about a higher likelihood of shooting at wildlife and valuable resources, such as prehistoric petroglyphs.
Meanwhile, Coburn appeared unfazed by the criticism, saying that "if you give up on the 2nd Amendment, you give up on them all," and adding that it represents the "checks and balances" of the government and is the most important guarantee citizens have, quoted by Tulsa Beacon.