February 20, 2009
The Obama administration has chosen to defend a bad rule
rushed through during former President George W. Bush's final days in office
that allows concealed, loaded firearms in national parks and wildlife refuges.
The rule is a gift to the gun lobby.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has asked for a 90-day
internal assessment of the rule's environmental impacts, offering some hope that
the administration might later reverse an unwise policy. But for now, the
administration's operating position is contained in a Justice Department brief
filed last Friday. It seeks to block a preliminary injunction of the rule sought
by gun control and environmental groups…
Another early test of that commitment is coming soon. It
involves the so-called Tiahrt Amendment, which is strongly supported by the gun
lobby. The amendment denies police and local governments access to essential
information about guns used to commit crimes. The question is whether Mr.
Obama's forthcoming budget blueprint will include language aiming to repeal it.
Mr. Obama is well aware of its pernicious effects. As a
senator, he sponsored legislation supported by Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New
York City and a coalition of more than 30 national and state law enforcement
organizations to remove the amendment's restrictions on access to crime gun
tracing data. His White House Web site calls for the rule's repeal.
There is a good chance that the rollback of the Tiahrt
Amendment could finally be achieved this year. The issue has nothing to do with
the Second Amendment and the right to bear arms and everything to do with public
safety. The only real purpose served by the Tiahrt restrictions is to protect
shady gun dealers and gun traffickers from detection, arrest and punishment.
Much depends on the new president's willingness to risk
offending gun extremists by submitting a budget plan that includes language
explicitly repealing this unfortunate and unproductive amendment. Mr. Obama
should not back down.