Dear Caroline:

This is a wonderful initiative by PATC. I am sharing with the Mid-Atlantic Regional Partnership Committee of ATC which met this past Saturday via their list serve. You may wish to join that group. I handed out the Washington Post piece about guns in parks published 2/29 as an FYI to them. I am also sharing with ATC regional office staff and the other RPC chairs; the New England, Virginia and the Deep South RPCs all meet in the next several weeks.

I particularly appreciate your sensitivity to hunters and fishermen in our ranks. They are our natural allies among the “hook & bullet” crowd. We don’t oppose the lawful and traditional uses of our public lands for sports pursuits like hunting, just the election-year, 2nd amendment politicking and that seems a malady peculiar to the USA. Your list of parks and refuges is particularly sobering in those respects.

Thanks for your great work as conservation co-chair of PATC.

Robert Proudman

Dear Friends,

The Potomac Appalachian Trail Club is writing to you and other trail enthusiasts throughout Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia to call your attention to an issue of serious concern.

In recent months, the National Rifle Association has launched a concerted effort, aimed at both the U.S. Congress and the U.S. Department of the Interior, to overturn current regulations on possession of loaded firearms in National Parks and Wildlife Refuges. Current regulations generally prohibit individuals from possessing guns in parks and refuges unless they are unloaded or are packed, cased, or stored in a manner that will prevent their ready use. (See 36 CFR 2.4 and 50 CFR 27.42.)

Legislation to change these regulations has been introduced in both the House and Senate: H.R. 5434 by Representative Jeb Hensarling (TX) and S. 2619 by Senator Tom Coburn (OK). In addition, on February 22, Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne announced a plan to make changes administratively by starting a rulemaking process to "update" existing firearms regulations to reflect "…the laws by which the host States govern transporting and carrying firearms on their analogous public lands." Secretary Kempthorne said he will issue the proposed rule changes by April 30 for public comment.

The Potomac Appalachian Trail Club strongly opposes legislative or administrative changes to current park and refuge firearms regulations. If Congress or the Interior Department overturns the current firearms restrictions, we believe places like the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, trails of Shenandoah National Park, the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park and the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail would be put at risk. The sense of sanctuary and safety experienced by our members in these areas would be lost, natural and cultural park resources would be threatened, and poaching (already a growing problem) would become more prevalent.

PATC has worked closely with you and other trail enthusiasts over the years to establish, maintain and preserve hiking trails in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia. Now it's time to protect our investment!

We hope you'll join us in opposing this threat to the well-being of our parks and refuges and visitor enjoyment of them. If you share our concerns, here's what you can do to help:

1) Write to your Senators and Member of Congress:

2) Educate and activate your own networks. Forward this e-mail. Circulate the attached, one page "Action Alert." It's important that Congress hear from more than one side of this debate. Attached is a list of National Park Service areas and wildlife refuges that would be affected by the proposals in PA, MD, VA, WV, and DC. Also attached are names, addresses, and phone numbers of Members of Congress.

3) Plan to comment on Secretary Kempthorne's proposed regulatory changes when they are issued at the end of April. Stay tuned to for more information.

Thanks for any help you can give. If you'd like PATC to send you further information on this issue as events develop, please send your name and e-mail address to [email protected]

Caroline Petti, Co-Chair
PATC Conservation Committee