A judicially-dubbed, “Final Rule” has just been hung up.


Memories fade quickly. But it will probably not surprise anyone that just as the Bush administration was edging to an end in December, 2008, its Interior Department approved an amendment that, after 25 years of prohibition within US National Parks and wildlife refuges, would now allow people entering them to carry concealed, loaded weapons.


For 25 years there had been a direct prohibition. It is not clear what urgent social need prompted the urge for amendment but once the regulatory review process was ended, the administration jumped right into it and sought to implement the change.


The Final Rule became a lighting rod for litigation. Opponents attacked the proposed change and sought an interlocutory injunction to prevent it from taking effect.


Leadership of the opposition was with the anti-handgun lobby but a tip of the hat should go to Maine’s, “The Friends of Acadia and Maine Citizens Against Handgun Violence” organization who quickly came on board as amicus curiae opposed to the change. (The National Rifle Association, of course, lent their own artillery to support the Government’s position.)


The US District court’s ruling on the injunction has just come down, and enjoined the new rule. Calling the rule, “the Final Rule” (probably to distinguish from earlier drafts discussed in the rule making process), the Court seized on the fact that no environmental assessment had been done under the applicable rulemaking process and has held up its implementation.


The court concluded that the “Final Rule” could not be implemented until an environmental assessment had been done under the applicable rules-making process. A fast skating US administration had deemed that there would be no environmental impact of the introduction of the measure and had skipped the step. But following the opposition’s argument — a bunch apparently even faster on the rink– the court concluded that an assessment was required and that the administration was not permitted to simply deem the required assessment out of the way.


In its absence, pending further litigation or a resolution, US Parks and refuges are to be free of hidden firearms. As long as things don’t break out into a shooting war. So much for Final Rules, at least for now.


“Go Maine !!!


[see Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence v. Salazar et al United States District Court for the District of Columbia, Civil Action No. 08-2243 (CKK)]

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