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NPS Retirees Oppose Carrying Guns in National Parks

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The Coalition of National Park Service Retirees opposes a change in gun laws in the national park system.

The Coalition of National Park Service Retirees sees no need to change gun laws in the national parks, saying that allowing the public to carry weapons in the parks could jeopardize the safety of visitors.

Last month, you might recall, the Traveler pointed to an effort by nearly half the U.S. Senate to allow concealed weapons to be carried in the parks. Current Park Service policy allows permitted weapons to be transported through the parks, but they must be unloaded and stored so as they're not readily accessible.

Forty-seven senators, led by Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, don't think that's good enough. He says varying gun laws on federal lands can be confusing to gun holders. (The New York Times pointed out, though, that if gun holders are confused, perhaps they shouldn't be permitted to carry guns.)

In a letter to Representative Nick Rahall, who chairs the House Natural Resources Committee, the coalition asked that if legislation proposing a change in the current regulations reaches his committee, that it not gain favorable consideration.

We believe that to change these regulations so that visitors might wear or keep firearms close at hand in national parks - guided by differing state laws -could significantly increase the danger to visitors in national parks. Equally worrisome is that such a practice would almost certainly put wildlife in many parks at greater risk, wrote the coalition. Poaching would become easier. And visitors who believe that carrying a firearm provides them with extra “security” and the authority to shoot animals would be far more likely to use deadly force whenever they feel the slightest threat. Information gathered by State and Federal wildlife management organizations throughout the country overwhelmingly indicates that both people and wildlife are safer when guns are not the first choice when people feel threatened.

Comments

"But research has shown it is lower where CCWs are available."

Only if you ignore the mountain of research that says it does not.  An easy wikipedia search lists research that contests your claim about what the research shows: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concealed_carry_in_the_United_States
 
"But the vast majority of those aren't accidental - which is what you originally suggested"

You're right, anon.  The stat I quoted was about injury deaths, not necessarily accidental injuries/deaths.

"So what? You don't know that any place else either. Do you worry about the same thing about the other drivers on the road? Should we ban cars because you are worried?"

That's my point.  If I were crossing high-speed traffic or contending with drunk drivers in the backcoutry of the national parks, then this might be a concern.  But one of the appeals of the parks is that I don't have to. 

"The possibility the victim could defend himself is a deterrent."

Then why are people still getting shot where there is CCW?  Again, see link above to wikipedia bibliography.


Then it would seem strange that we have so much gun violence in the U.S., even where there is CCW.

But research has shown it is lower where CCWs are available.

"Firearm injuries are the second leading cause of injury death in the United States"--CDC/National Center for Health Statistics, 2004

But the vast majority of those aren't accidental - which is what you originally suggested. - ie. your statement ""We could also quote stats on the number of accidental shootings that occur every year."  Actually, the rate of accidental injury by guns is extremely low.  3.1 per 100,0000.  In comparison dog bite is 128, cycling is 181, and falls are 2746.
Source CDC Surveillance for Fatal and Nonfatel Injuries, US 2001

My objection is to carrying guns openly in the parks because I don't
know if that person is mentally stable, what his or her intentions are,
whether he or she is reckless, well-trained or not

So what?  You don't know that any place else either.  Do you worry about the same thing about the other drivers on the road?  Should we ban cars because you are worried?

Noone's talking about a criminal in a room somewhere.

In a room, in a hotel, in a campsite, on the trail, the concept is the same.  The possibility the victim could defend himself is a deterrent.


"Yes - it is the uncertainty of not knowing who is or is not armed that is the deterent."

Then it would seem strange that we have so much gun violence in the U.S., even where there is CCW.  (And again, I think this dramatically misreads the mindset of someone intent on using a gun criminally.)

"Go ahead - give us the statistics. I think you will find that tricylces typically cause more accidental deaths." 

"Firearm injuries are the second leading cause of injury death in the United States"--CDC/National Center for Health Statistics, 2004.

(I admit I don't know if tricycles are first.)

"OK - those were the claims of NPS Retirees. What exactly are you objections?"

I don't really have an objection to CCW.  My objection is to carrying guns openly in the parks because I don't know if that person is mentally stable, what his or her intentions are, whether he or she is reckless, well-trained or not, etc.  If the ethos of the country were different, I might not feel this way.  But given how dramatically problematic America's relationship is with firearms (compared to that of the rest of the industrial world) these aren't the concerns I want to confront when I'm spending time in the parks.  Guns change the scenery.
 
"You find it 'dubious' that a criminal would be less likely to use a gun if someone in the room may have one than if he knew nobody had one?"

No, because I didn't say that was dubious.  Noone's talking about a criminal in a room somewhere.
 
 
 


Does a criminal intent on using a gun think that because there are more people in the park they are more likely to be armed?

Yes - it is the uncertainty of not knowing who is or is not armed that is the deterent.  If there are 50 people "visitors" around that is far more deterent than no law enforecement officers.

I'm not sure why that stat is relevant.

Because it shows the positive aspects of citizens carrying guns

"We could also quote stats on the number of accidental shootings that occur every year.

Go ahead - give us the statistics.  I think you will find that tricylces typically cause more accidental deaths.

Why would it?

Pretty simple - Because the victim might shoot back -

I haven't made this claim. I have different objections to carrying guns (openly) in the parks.

OK - those were the claims of NPS Retirees.  What exactly are you objections?

"Meant to say, "That criminals would be less likely to use a gun because of the change in the law seems dubious."

And yet research has shown just that.  You find it "dubious" that a criminal would be less likely to use a gun if someone in the room may have one than if he knew nobody had one?  To me, that is only common sense.


Meant to say, "That criminals would be less likely to use a gun because of the change in the law seems dubious."  Oops.


"What I am stating is that there are far more "random hikers" and "families" on vacation than there are law enforcement rangers and so they are a more likely deterent."

I'm not sure why the "number" of visitors to the parks are a more likely deterrent.  Does a criminal intent on using a gun think that because there are more people in the park they are more likely to be armed?  I don't follow the logic.  That criminals would be more likely to use a gun because of the change in the law seems dubious.

"Research has shown that 1.5-2 million people use a gun in self defense every year."

I'm not sure why that stat is relevant.  We could also quote stats on the number of accidental shootings that occur every year.

"Research has also shown that having a CCW does not increase the likelihood of using a gun criminally."

And I doubt it would prevent anyone one else from using a gun criminally.  Why would it? 

"I am unaware of any research that supports your claims that allowing the carrying guns in the parks would increase risk to park visitors or wildlife."

I haven't made this claim.  I have different objections to carrying guns (openly) in the parks. 


Anon - 10:10
What I am stating  is that there are far more "random hikers" and "families" on vacation than there are law enforcement rangers and so they are a more likely deterent.  Furthermore, they will be more able to defend themselves should a criminal approach them.  Research has shown that 1.5-2 million people use a gun in self defense every year.  Research has also shown that having a CCW does not increase the likelihood of using a gun criminally.  Again, I point you to the research of Gary Kleck at the Florida State University College of Criminology.
I am unaware of any research that supports your claims that allowing the carrying guns in the parks would increase risk to park visitors or wildlife.


Anon @ 4:32,

Are you really suggesting that in the mind of a criminal about to use a gun, the consequence of going to prison and law enforcement rangers are not deterrents, but the off-chance that a random hiker or family on vaction might be armed is a deterrent?


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