Northwest lawmakers back guns in parks
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MATTHEW DALY Associated Press Writer WASHINGTON
Northwest lawmakers sided with the majority as Congress voted to allow people to carry loaded guns in national parks and wildlife refuges. Eleven House members from five Northwest states voted in favor of the gun measure Wednesday, while just seven opposed it. In the Senate, the outcome was even more lopsided. Eight of the 10 senators from Alaska, Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana supported the bill, which allows licensed gun owners to bring firearms into national parks and wildlife refuges as long as they are allowed by state law. The bill, which President Barack Obama is expected to sign, restores a Bush administration policy that briefly allowed loaded guns in national parks. Among those voting for the measure were Democratic Reps. Peter DeFazio and Kurt Schrader of Oregon, as well as Reps. Adam Smith, D-Wash., and Walt Minnick, D-Idaho. All other House Democrats from the Northwest opposed it. All seven GOP House members from Alaska, Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana supported the bill. In the Senate, only Democrats Patty Murray and Maria Cantwel l of Washington state opposed the bill. DeFazio said the change, which was attached to a bill imposing restrictions on credit card companies, was not a big deal. "Basically in Oregon, the situation that pertains in all public lands in Oregon would now pertain to Crater Lake National Park," the state's only national park, he said. "What you could carry today in Mount Hood National Forest, or wilderness or any BLM lands, you now can carry in Crater Lake," DeFazio said, referring to lands controlled by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, or BLM. Schrader said he has always supported Second Amendment rights. "As long as individuals are in comPliance with the law of the state in which the park or refuge is located, I don't think that the federal government should infringe on their right to carry a firearm," he said. Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Wash., chairman of the Interior Appropriations subcommittee, said the measure would increase poaching and "make our parks less safe." Dicks said the gun rule was a top priority of the National Rifle Association. "Really it's just a wedge issue," he said.