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    Boy, the gun clubs passed the word this weekend about my post on outgoing Senator George Allen's last-gasp effort to legalize the carrying of concealed weapons in national parks.
    The flurry of comments against my post and in favor of Allen's bid was impressive. Not quite so impressive were the few comments that questioned my sexuality and maturity because I don't take glee in toting a 10 mm Glock or my ability to think critically.
    Under most of the counterarguments offered, the general thinking seems to be that to protect ourselves we all should be carrying our own gleaming, semi-automatic, or perhaps even automatic, pieces to ensure safety in society. Frankly, folks, I don't see how that's going to accomplish much beyond an increase in the number of shoot-outs.
    And yes, I'm well familiar with the old cliche that if you outlaw guns, only outlaws will own guns. Just the same, is mass arming how you measure 21st century progress?
    There's no doubt that there are some parts of the park system that are increasingly dangerous, be it from the drug operations in Sequoia or the illegal immigration coming through Organ Pipe. And that's why we have growing numbers of law enforcement rangers battling those problems. By and large, though, I don't see the parks as having become so dangerous that we need to revert to a freelance form of posse comitatus.
    And I certainly can't see the law enforcement arm of the National Park Service jumping on this proposal.
     Perhaps if those who believe they should be able to carry their weapons wherever they please focused that same fervor on lobbying Congress to properly fund the National Park Service the parks would become a safer place than they already are.
    That said, it's great to see so many comments on a topic that certainly needs some debate. And I encourage more discourse. Just please try to erase your juvenile insults before you push the "post" button.


The folks who seem to think national parks are some sacred ground where the Second Amendment alone should be restricted need to rethink. Let's get something straight: concealed carry permit holders simply do not commit crimes. You won't be raped, robbed or assaulted by a concealed carry person. You won't even know they're out there unless you attack one - just as you don't know about all of the criminals out there. Not one of the anti-gun posters has complained about the CRIMINALS in the parks and how they're concerned about how criminals will assault them as they do many times. They don't complain about their fear of knowing criminals will break laws to get what they want. No, they're complaining about lawful exercise of Constitutional rights that are now abridged by silly regulatory and geographic prohibition. I'll forego discussion of the stereotypical anti-gun terminology.

I am having trouble understanding why anyone needs to cary a firearm in the Parks. Most of you agree that you're pretty unlikely to be robbed at gun/knife point. And the idea that we need to protect ourselves from the snakes and mountain lions disturbs me. How many people are injured or killed by these ruthless animals? Are we not the ones intruding into their homes and then defending our behavior with violence. If that is you defense then you will never be welcome in my house

Hmm, I suppose my position on this makes me one of those "new Democrats" that have a chance of winning in the South...but not quite. I've done extensive hiking in Arizona and the Blue Ridge Mtns, and I frequently bring my revolver -- not because I'm worried about criminals, though. I'm thinking more about rattlesnakes and mountain lions, and I load it mostly with snakeshot and think largely about its noise-making capacity. It's also not a concealable weapon, and I was used to seeing hikers walk around in AZ with a six-shooter on their hip. It was just as natural a hiking tool as a Leatherman and a good Zippo. I'd prefer to keep that tool on my hiking list no matter where I hike. At first my more liberal side started thinking, "Revolver on the hip, fine, but isn't a concealed-carry extension a bit much for hiking?" But I think there's a morsel of truth in what some of your rabid NRA commenters pointed out: it's that shadow of uncertainty about what a potential victim is capable of that might dissuade a certain class of robber (naturally it won't dissuade all criminals). Where I think the NRA types are wrong is in the blanket assumption that "criminals are law-breakers anyway so they're going to carry a gun no matter what the law says." That's not always true: again, there's a certain class of petty criminal that wants your wallet, but not so much to risk the penalty-enhancement brought about by firearm possession. Double trouble for the petty crook if we actually had more extensive regulations and enforcement concerning *licensed* versus *unlicensed* firearms. The problem is, the extreme 2nd Amendment types are so dead-set against letting us more moderate types regulate the possession and registration of firearms that it's very hard for the unarmed hikers and the gun-toting GI Joes to meet in the middle for a sensible compromise.

Quote------ Under most of the counterarguments offered, the general thinking seems to be that to protect ourselves we all should be carrying our own gleaming, semi-automatic, or perhaps even automatic, pieces to ensure safety in society. Frankly, folks, I don't see how that's going to accomplish much beyond an increase in the number of shoot-outs. Quote------ Ok, now we're getting somewhere. I do not personally advocate for each and every person to carry a firearm. Not every person is qualified, proficient, comfortable or safe with a firearm. Training can address some of these issues with most people but if you're not comfortable with or around guns, sometimes that cannot be overcome. That's no excuse for projecting that fear on to everyone else. Ask yourself when the last time you read of some permitted citizen committing a crime was. Now, compare with a law enforcement type. Research carefully, you might be surprised at the conclusion. Virginia relaxed the state park weapons ban years ago over the hue and cry of DGIF, including the exaggerated hyperbole predicting "Wild DC shootouts" and "blood in the parks"... None of which came to fruition. In fact, I'd like to see evidence to support that theory in general. So far, I think 38 states have a shall issue permit system, the bulk of which came post '87 (Florida). This has been debated time and again at the state and "specific venue" level, and there's no case I'm aware of in which one of these states or venues can show an increase in "shootouts" or for that matter general violence as a result. You also mentioned not seeing law enforcement "jump on the bandwagon". Frankly, who cares? Do you need permission from Law Enforcement to post to this blog? I couldn't care less what the LE arm of the National Park Service thinks about me or my law abiding friends carrying weapons for personal protection since they're perfectly happy to have a certain level of crime in their parks to help justify their staffing levels. So long as crime exitsts in the Parks, my right to protect myself trumps their opinion on law abiding park visitors carrying personal protection guns. And, in the FWIW column, I haven't heard or seen of their opposition to the proposal either... It's irrelevant either way, since the odds of a Parks LEO being around to protect me when a crime occurs is non existent. Their own morning report confirms this. What it really comes down to is the golden rule - "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." If you choose to not carry a personal protection device of some sort; be it a gun, mace, pepper spray, katana, PR-24, taser, stun gun, what have you... Then the Grace of God be with you. If you opt for one of the above or some other form of protection, Peace be upon you. However, before you make that decision for everyone else, ask just who you are helping by making that decision.

Here's an audio documentary about the work it takes to restore a pot plantation after the growers have been busted and the plants removed by law enforcement: This is a big job that has to be done by volunteers, because none of the parks can afford the labor to do it. Back on-topic about guns: I'm still interested in hearing more from the rangers and park staff on this question.

Here's the article on the bust in Point Reyes.

Unfortunately, the majority of people think that smoking pot and by extension growing marijuana aren't serious crimes. There needs to be some sort of public educational spots showing the damage to the parks it causes and linking that directly to those who think that smoking pot is a harmless diversion. "This is your national park on drugs" comes to mind.

Kurt-- You are getting the standard reaction from the "guns don't kill people; people kill people" crowd. Visitors don't need guns in parks and these places are a lot safer because people are not carrying weapons. Legitimate hunters break down their weapons before transporting them across parks. Senator Allern (soon to be former Senator Allen) could do a lot for parks if he concentrated on some of the real park issues such as staffing shortages and declining maintenance budgets. That would be a very useful way to end his service in the US Senate.

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