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Guns in the Parks: A Bad Idea

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    Senator George Allen of Virginia, you might say, is leaving Congress with his guns a-blazing.
    The Republican, who was ousted by Democrat Jim Webb, evidently has introduced legislation that would allow gun owners to bring their weapons into national parks, as long as the states the parks are located in don't prohibit the practice.
    Mike Kinsey, writing for Ohioans For Concealed Carry, says, "The arbitrary prohibition of your right to self-defense in a National Park needs to end."
    "Your life is not worth less while visiting one of our country’s beautiful parks than it is anywhere else you may be," argues Kinsey. "Personally, I believe that lonely wilderness trails may be one of the places that I would most want to have my self-defense firearm."
    Great. That's all we need, a backcountry full of pistol-packing hikers ready to take you on. This guy seems a little over the edge to me.
    "...any location that is known to be frequented by tourists would probably be very attractive to criminals," he goes on. "Tourists are generally carrying a lot of money and are unfamiliar with their surroundings. I am certainly not a criminal mastermind. If I can see that this environment makes one more vulnerable to violent attack, I am certain those with less scruples have realized it as well."
    Gee, Mike, we seem to have made it into the 21st Century without a spate of backcountry holdups (although there were a handful of stagecoach holdups back in the early 1900s in Yellowstone).
    Do we really want to legalize toting guns around in national parks? Frankly, I'd feel safer in the backcountry knowing that guns are prohibited rather than worrying that the next person I encounter might be packing heat.

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GUNS IN PARKS: GOOD IDEA "That's all we need...pistol-packing hikers ready to take you on." --AND WHY NOT? Ah...because merely *possessing* a firearm increases my likelihood of wanting to "take you on?" How about if I have pepper spray? Walking stick? Black belt in a martial art? Six inches taller and 30 pounds heavier? I challenge you to reflect more on the attributes that make people a real threat or not. "Frankly, I'd feel safer...knowing that guns are prohibited rather than worrying that the next person I encounter might be packing heat." --I DO NOT SHARE your stunningly optimistic assessment of the correlation between prohibition and action. So for you, "knowing guns are prohibited" prevents you from worrying about other people? Let's see. Using this "logic," you should thus feel perfectly safe and not worry when going into the most dangerous parts of a city because violent acts are prohibited. Hmmm. Because I doubt that you would extend your logic to this case and to yourself or your loved ones, you come across as either disingenuous or unable to think critically, at least on this topic. At best, you have a damned odd view about what it takes to achieve a feeling of personal safety, but it should not trump my freedom to have the capability to protect myself or my family.

News Flash: criminals don't care which way this issue goes. They're carrying guns wherever they like. Is there something magical about a park that suddenly erases the fact that I'm trained, tested, and licensed by the state to carry a firearm?

Lets see, National Forests already follow state law, so all Virginians can carry their legal guns there, and, to use your logic, I don't recall hearing about that leading to any mass shootings by permit holders.

I ride my bike through a national park sometimes for up to 8 hours a week. Next to a restroom they have a notice board with events they hold, rules and restrictions, and sketches of all of the criminals that they're looking for who committed crimes in that national park. There is very little police presence in the national parks so there is little to deter a criminal. That seed of doubt alone, "could this victim be armed", would go a long way to deterring crime.

Here's a clue: The people who are "ready to take you on" are already carrying. They're called criminals. Nationwide, people with permits have a lower crime rate than some (New Orleans, for example) police departments. I can give you an example of why this ban is stupid. I volunteer at Jamestown Settlement. My usual motel (when I'm not staying in the fort over the weekend) is in Williamsburg. I have to go the long way around Williamsburg to get to JamestownIf I don't want to break the rules on the Colonial Parkway, I have to go the long way around Williamsburg to get to Jamestown. This is because I have a MATCHLOCK MUSKET, ca 1450s technology, in the car. Even worse, I might have a 1510-style wheellock pistol -- Oh, horrors! That is, of course, assuming that I left my modern concealed-carry firearm in the hotel... Incidentally, I voted for Webb. He's planning to carry through on both of Allen's pro-gun initiatives - national park carry and national permit reciprocity. Something to do, perhaps, with the fact that he wants to be able to carry his own gun in more places that he's likely to need it.

Kurt, You say, " ...we seem to have made it into the 21st Century without a spate of backcountry holdups (although there were a handful of stagecoach holdups back in the early 1900s in Yellowstone)." "Stagecoach holdups"? I suspect the families of Julianne Williams and Lollie Winans don't appreciate your flippancy. The 24 and 26 year old women were murdered in Shenandoah National Park in June 1996. You further pose, "Do we really want to legalize toting guns around in national parks? Frankly, I'd feel safer in the backcountry knowing that guns are prohibited rather than worrying that the next person I encounter might be packing heat." Does Washington DC's prohibition of guns make you "feel safer" when you vacation in Southeast DC housing projects? I submit that the people you should reasonably fear are not responsible concealed carry permit holders, but those who respect no sort of "prohibition". Regards,

Do you really want be disarmed where you are the farthest from law enforcement? With drug smugglers and growers using the backcountry as their private weed farms or meth labs, you never know what you will trip over when out for a walk. In the Boy Scouts I was taught to always "Be Prepared." For this reason I carry a poncho, extra water, a pocket knife, a first aid kit and other "emergency" gear. Why not the ultimate in emergency gear? Make the discharge of a firearm illegal in National Parks and be done with it.

Gee, I wonder if all criminals follow the law and think to themselves; " It's against the law to carry a firearm while I rob these happy trailhikers. I better not bring my firearm." Please people, the law abiding citizen who elects to carry doesn't tote it around to intimidate innocent people. It's for protection!

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