U.S. Sen. Coburn Runs Poll On Whether "Concealed Carry" Should be Allowed in Parks

When last we left U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, it was believed that he was going to introduce an amendment to legalize the carrying of loaded weapons in national parks. Now he's taking a poll on that question.

Of course, there's no way this will be a scientific poll, as either side -- proponents or opponents -- could "stuff" the ballot box.

When I checked out the poll, it reported that it had received 2,553 votes, and that 87 percent were in favor of his amendment, and 14 percent opposed. Those are the right numbers, even if they do add up to 101 percent. Must be a rounding error.

Comments

Don't think the bill goes far enough. It should supercede state laws to the point where it allows CCW license holders (concealed weapons licensed holders) from any state to carry a concealed weapon in any NP. Under the current proposed bill, as I understood it, would permit the Republik of Kalifornia to enforce it's laws over federal laws. Something is not right with that picture. Kalifornia cannot protect it's citizens and it prohibits them from legally protecting themselves. There are over 30,000 licensed CCW holders in the Republik of Kalifornia and they can't carry a handgun in Death Valley legally. Charles Manson and his friends weren't out there spreading cheer and good will. Granted they didn't kill anyone in the desert that we know of.

Glad Kurt found a topic that has the readers responding so well. Good writer and I enjoy the articles. Can tell where his sentiments are oriented and I wish i agreeded with him, but I have been on the receiving end of crime and didn't like it. Managed to distance myself from most two legged mammals until health problems cut down my hiking, canoeing & 4X4'ing.

Stay safe what ever you do!

Internet polls are the lamest way of either finding public opinion, or of making decisions. Senators should know better.

I know that some readers on this website are going to say I'm naive because I feel safe in National Parks without a loaded gun, but here's the note that I sent Sen. Coburn several days ago:

I am dismayed to find that you are putting forth an amendment that would prohibit the Secretary of the Interior from prohibiting loaded weapons in National Parks. Each year my family camps in National Parks around the country, and the absence of loaded guns in the campgrounds makes my wife, my two sons, and me feel quite safe. Your attempt to allow loaded weapons in places where families and small children frequent demonstrates a lack of concern for the safety of National Park visitors. Because of your medical background, I assume that you're familiar with the large number of people who visit emergency rooms each year because of accidents with firearms. Knowing that the people in the tent next to me might have loaded weapons does not make me feel safe at all. I truly believe loaded firearms in the parks puts us more at risk for death and injury than if they remain unloaded and locked away as the law now states. I urge you to re-consider your amendment.

I don't know how the point gets missed on every story that comes up about guns. There are an extreme minority of citizens that actually posses a "Concealed Carry Permit". There is no such thing for private citizens to obtain a National Concealed Carry Permit. In some states it's regulated by the local sheriff's office. In other states it requires a written explanation. Still other states require you to take a minimum number of hours for a course. Each state has decided what other state's CCP they are willing to accept or deny. This is called reciprocity. This has existed for as long as gun restrictions have evolved. This bill is asking that if the state has determined that the individual is safe to own and operate a firearm in the extremely rare circumstance they should need to use it, then the state knows its people better than the federal government. I have a CCP and have had it for years. I doubt anyone will ever even see my gun or know it's there. I visit several national parks a year. I live in UT. I carry daily. If I am ever in the circumstance that my fellow Utahans were, during the "Trolley Square Shooting", I have exercised my right to protect myself, and my loved ones. Do I feel this will happen in my lifetime? Very, very doubtful. If it does then a fundamental right as a being on this earth is that I have the right to decide for myself if I am safer fighting or running. It is not anyone else's decision. If you would like facts on good citizens with guns I invite you to check out http://www.keepandbeararms.com/opsd/ . I promise that citizens defending themselves in many situations are not as rare as you may think.

Some of the comments are just plain insane throughout the gun articles on this site. Think the whole way through society and how human interactions work. Just because you keep the ban on guns in national parks doesn’t mean you’d all of the sudden be defending yourself against a rock or knife or any other object. You can’t count on a bank robber to have a firearm permit. People who break the law will always break the law. They have a proven track record for disregard. The problem with gun control will be the same always. There are a curtain group of people who don’t have faith in others. We don’t believe that all people are good and we believe there is a possibility that those evil doers could possibly want to do us harm. There is no law or agency on earth that has the ability to protect us. Only an Us vs. Them scenario. We believe that the 2nd amendment was placed there because the founding fathers believed that every human has the right to do whatever is necessary to protect themselves as long as they don’t interfere with the freedom of others. You may feel that the very presence of someone with a gun is interfering with your freedom. What the senator is saying is that your government can’t tell you who does and doesn’t have a gun. They can only tell you who was willing to take a test and let them know they wish to carry for protection. This small minority of gun carrying individuals are the people we’re all having a fit about.

I must have missed something. Joel seems to imply some one suggested there was a national CCW permit issurer out there somewhere. Have no idea if he was referring to my comment in my statement that my CCW permit should be recogniized in a NP anywhere. and not just in the 32 states for which I am licensed or recognized as legally authorised to carry a concealed weapon. It's federal land that I pay to maintain and paid to access. After all these years, I'd like to retrieve a little of that investment.

I've always said Senators can't add correctly...no wonder they can never find enough money for the NPS.

Gee, Bill, I have visited scores of national parks, all without a weapon, and believe I have retrieved my investment. I assume you could do the same.

Rick Smith

I agree with you Joel that we're probably talking about a very small number of people that would be carrying guns in National Parks if it were made legal, and I do believe that most gun owners are quite responsible. My problem with a change in the law and what I was emphasizing in my letter to Sen. Coburn is the potential increase in accidental shootings or the like that might result from having more guns in the parks. A couple years ago at a mall where I live a guy in JCPenney went to pay for his merchandise and as he was getting his money out, his concealed pistol went off and he shot himself in the foot. Those are the kinds of accidents that I think are avoided under the current law that requires guns to be locked away in National Parks.

II own a handgun and carry it in my RV. I do not have a CCW and I do not carry the weapon on me but I have on my property and legal or not there it will stay. It is protection from an intruder only. I see no need to carry a concealed weapon in a National Park. Let's face it if you are carrying concealed for protection from animals, a handgun is only going to make them mad.

In the old west everybody carried a gun. We all know how safe that made everybody! In old Chicago, everyone carried a gun. We all know how safe THAT was. Even today many victims of violent crime are carrying guns at the time, or have guns in their homes or vehicles. Some people end up shot with their own gun. Others have had their guns taken away from them and used in the commission of other crimes. I don't think anyone has a problem with Nbar having a gun in his RV, as long as that's where it stays. While technically illegal, the Park Service isn't going to shake him down. Heck, I sleep with a canister of bear spray under my pillow in mine. It's not there for bears. I do that because I'm not always camped in a National Park. Sometimes I'm camped in a Wal Mart parking lot on the road. I've never had a problem. This law is more about people openly carrying loaded guns in places where poaching is a real problem (with which rangers already have their hands full), places where violent crime is extremely low (as low as anywhere in the country), places where some of our most valued national treasures are housed, places where we proudly show off the best of the best of our country to foreign visitors, places where we take our children and grandchildren, our parents and grandparents to recreate.
Arguing that criminals are always going to break the law and carry guns makes no sense. That is like saying, "People are always going to speed, so why have speed limits?" or, "Some people will always manufacture and sell dope (and others use it), so why have laws against it?" Heck, for that matter, people are always going to rob banks.....if robbing banks is illegal, then only criminals will rob banks (and get in on all that extra cash!!) How fair is that?
If we only pass (or keep) laws that everyone is going to follow, we won't have ANY laws. Then we truly will be back to the days of the old west.


For those of you who do feel unsafe in National Parks, you can thank in part the willful disobeying of federal law by sanctuary city governments that have encouraged millions of illegal aliens to flock across our borders. The result is mountains of trash on our federal lands and crimes of all types in our parks and elsewhere. Cities are setting the example of pick and choose laws that we should obey or break and there is no punishment from the federal government. Now that the precedent has been set, what other federal laws will cities choose to ignore in the future? How about clean air or ground water pollution? At least Senator Coburn is trying to change a law with legislation and not telling us to ignore it!

Sorry Bill, You must have misread..."There is no such thing for private citizens to obtain a National Concealed Carry Permit" is what I actually said. I would love to get my hands on a National Concealed Carry Permit. Just no such thing.

Frank

A criminal is one who breaks the law. He is different from a person who obeys the law. Guns are tools like knives, hammers, rat poison, etc. It is a set of laws and what a person does with those tools that defines criminal behavior. For instance, if a person puts rat poison in someones meal he is a criminal. It does not mean that the rest of us can not use rat poison in our homes to control rats.

I hope this helps.
Joe

The right to own and carry a firearm is a Constitutionally protected right. While a leftist judiciary has sought to infringe on that right by imposing limitations, which only law abiding citizens respect, the fact remains that the right to own firearms and to use them in self defense is enshrined in the Constitution. The reference to a "well regulated militia" simply acknowledged that citizens could be called up at any moment, and in the 18th century world of the founders, those citizens would be required to furnish their own firearms.

I wonder how Frank would feel if he were required to secure a permit and to have his opinions approved before posting on this forum. How would he respond to restrictions on speech within the National Parks? Since insensitive remarks can lead to violence, and peace is the only legitimate objective, maybe his opinions and vocabulary should undergo a review on entry to the parks. On many college campuses the left is trying to do just that by imposing speech codes and other arbitrary restrictions on 1st amendment rights.

This totalitarian impulse on the part of leftist "do gooders" must be challenged by freedom loving people at every turn, lest we find ourselves with no rights or, pehaps as bad, find that those rights have been so diluted that they become meaningless.

Finally, it seems that like most leftists Frank places his feelings above the facts. It's true that there was violence in the old west. It's also true that the "wild west", where everyone was armed, was considerably less violent than the eastern cities where gun restrictions were in place. While the media does not report it, every state that has enacted a "right to carry" law has seen their crime rate go down. More guns, less crime.

Art, you say: the fact remains that the right to own firearms and to use them in self defense is enshrined in the Constitution.

Where in the Constitution is the right to use firearms for self-defense enshrined? All it says is "the right to keep and bear arms". To bear, of course, means to carry or possess. While the founding fathers have approved your right to own firearms, there is nothing that says they have an "enshrined" right to use them.

Arms like laws discourage and keep the invader and plunderer in awe and preserve order in the world as well as property.
-- Thomas Paine, Writings of Thomas Paine

Sam,
How is it that the same people who insist that the 1st amendment provides shelter for pornographers (including pedophiles provided the images are computer generated), that the 14th amendment provides for the destruction of human life, even up to the moment of birth, and the right to commit sodomy (though nowhere in the language of the Constitution are these "rights" apparent), seem unable to discern the right to self defense in an amendment that specifically states, "the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed"?

In his arguments on behalf of British troops in the Boston Massacre, John Adams invoked the English Common Law of self-defense. The right to bear arms and the right to self defense predate the Constitution and were part of many state constitutions and Common Law before the federal constitution was written. The 2cd amendment simply affirmed a right the people already possessed and had exercised for centuries. It was not invented by Madison.

Your argument that the framers intent was to establish a national firearms collectors club, affirming a citizens right to possess arms while denying their right to use them in self defense is amusing. Please keep posting. It is only when arguments like yours are expressed that we see how truly lame they are.

Whoa there, Art...when did I frame any sort of argument? All I did was respond to your comment. I am a member of the NRA, gun owner and avid hunter. I have no problem with the 2nd Amendment, or anyone's right to own or use firearms. All I did was say that no where in the Constitution is it "enshrined" (using your words here, not mine) that firearms can be used for self-defense. That's wonderful that English Common Law and many state's constitutions protect the right to self-defense. All I'm stating is that the way our Constitution was written, along with the Bill of Rights, does nothing to "enshrine" a person's right to use a firearm in self defense.

"Your comment has been queued for moderation by site administrators and will be published after approval." Art, I think that my comments DO need to be approved before posting them! Thank you, Kurt!
As I posted elsewhere, it's very interesting how concerned folks are about the second amendment while the 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th have been shredded by the Bush administration and the Patriot act. Seems that the Bill of Rights has bigger problems.
"It's also true that the "wild west", where everyone was armed, was considerably less violent than the eastern cities where gun restrictions were in place. While the media does not report it, every state that has enacted a "right to carry" law has seen their crime rate go down. More guns, less crime." A fascinating statement. I didn't see your source quoted?
Here are a few statistics along with their sources:

In 1992, handguns killed 33 people in Great Britain, 36 in Sweden, 97 in Switzerland, 60 in Japan, 13 in Australia, 128 in Canada, and 13,200 in the United States. [Handgun Control Inc., cited in The Washington Post, 1998]
In less than 2 years, more people are killed by handguns in the United States than were killed in the Korean War.

Annual rates of firearm homicides for youths age 15-19 increased 155% between 1989 and 1994. [National Summary of Injury Mortality Data, 1987-1994; National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, 1996]

Between 1986 and 1992, the total number of children killed by firearms rose by 144 percent. [National Campaign to Reduce Youth Violence]

Handguns are used in 80 percent of homicides, nearly 70 percent of suicides and nearly all accidental shootings. [Prevention First]

Nearly 16 children a day died in 1997 as a result of a firearms homicide, suicide or unintentional shooting. [Children’s Defense Fund, 1998]

In the U.S., youth homicide rates are more than 10 times that of other leading industrialized nations, on par with the rates in developing countries and those experiencing rapid social and economic changes. The youth homicide rate in the U.S. stood at 11.0 per 100,000 compared to France (0.6 per 100 000), Germany (0.8 per 100 000), the United Kingdom (0.9 per 100 000) and Japan (0.4 per 100 000). [World Report on Violence and Health, World Health Organization 2002]

"Since insensitive remarks can lead to violence, and peace is the only legitimate objective......" I am always very careful to avoid insensitive remarks; and, though peace may not be the only legitimate objective, it is always an honorable one.

Your statistics are from an unreliable source at best. If you want to find out how tough it is to be an African American in the USA don't ask a member of the KKK.

Three out of four violent crimes committed in the U.S. do not involve firearms. Since 1991, the number of privately owned firearms in the U.S. has increased between 65-70 million, and the nation's murder rate has decreased 43%. (BATFE and FBI)

Right off the NRA Web Site: http://www.nraila.org//Issues/Articles/Read.aspx?ID=209

FABLE VI: Since firearm accidents are a large and growing problem, we need laws mandating how people store their firearms.

To the contrary, fatal firearm accidents in the United States have been decreasing dramatically from year to year, decade to decade.1 Today they're at an all-time low among the entire population and among children in particular, and account for only 1% of fatal accidents. More common are fatal accidents involving, or due to, motor vehicles, falls, fires, poisoning, drowning, choking on ingested objects and mistakes during medical care.2 Since 1930, the U.S. population has more than doubled, the number of privately owned firearms has quintupled, and the annual number of fatal firearm accidents has declined by 74%.3 Among children, fatal firearm accidents have declined 84% since 1975.4

Anti-gun activists exaggerate the number of firearm-related deaths among children more than 500%, by counting deaths among persons under the age of 20 as deaths of "children."5 To these activists a 19-year-old gangster who is shot by police during a convenience store robbery is a "child." In some instances, they even have pretended that persons under the age of 25 were "children," and Handgun Control, Inc., on at least one occasion, pretended that anyone under the age of 35 was a "child."6

Along with misrepresenting accident and other statistics in an effort to frighten people into not keeping guns in their homes, anti-gun activists also advocate "mandatory storage" laws (to require all gun owners to store their firearms unloaded and locked away) and "triggerlock" laws (to require some sort of locking device to be provided with every gun sold.) Both concepts are intended to prohibit or, at least, discourage people from keeping their firearms ready for protection against criminals--the most common reason many people buy firearms today.

NRA opposes such laws because it would be unreasonable and potentially dangerous to impose one storage requirement upon all gun owners. Individual gun owners have different factors to consider when determining how best to store their guns. They alone are capable of making the decision that is best for themselves. Gun safes and trigger locking devices have been on the market for years, of course, and remain available to anyone who decides that those products fit their individual needs.

Storage and triggerlock laws could also give people the false impression that it is safe to rely upon mechanical devices, rather than upon proper firearm handling procedures. Mechanical devices can fail and many trigger locking devices pose a danger when installed on loaded firearms.

Mandatory storage laws also would be virtually impossible to enforce without violating the Fourth Amendment's protection against unreasonable searches. American gun owners and civil libertarians are keenly aware that in Great Britain, a mandatory storage law was a precursor to that country's prohibition on handgun ownership.

Most states provide penalties for reckless endangerment, under which an adult found grossly negligent in the storage of a firearm can be prosecuted for a criminal offense. Responsible gun owners already store their firearms safely, in accordance with their personal needs. Irresponsible persons are not likely to undergo a character change because of a law that restates their inherent responsibilities.

NRA recognizes that education has been the key to the decline in firearm accidents. NRA's network of 39,000 Certified Instructors and Coaches nationwide trains hundreds of thousands of gun owners each year. Separately, NRA's award-winning Eddie Eagle® Gun Safety Education program for children pre-K through 6th grade has reached more than 15 million youngsters nationwide. NRA's Home Firearm Safety Manual advises: "The proper storage of firearms is the responsibility of all gun owners," and that gun owners should "store guns so they are not accessible to untrained or unauthorized persons."

Frank,

Your first source, Handgun Control Inc., cites only the absolute number of murders. Since the U.S. has a larger population it stands to reason that it would have more homicides. The last source you cite, the WHO, correctly compares incidents per hundred thousand. It's important to note that in both cases they are apparently talking about all homicides not just those involving a firearm.

France, England, Sweden and Germany are small homogeneous countries. If compared with certain states or blocks of states with approximately the same demographics, say Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Montana, etc., U.S. homicide statistics are about the same despite our greater gun ownership.

The Korean War claimed more than 33,000 American lives, so either the 13,200 figure is wrong, the "less than 2 years" time frame is wrong, or the statement is meaningless.

As for the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control and the National Campaign to Reduce Youth Violence, these sources cite percentage increases without baselines making it impossible to judge their significance. For example: If one person were killed in 2000 and two were killed in 2001 that would be a 100 percent increase, but without knowing the size of the population, the baseline number of incidents, etc. the increase may be statistically meaningless.

You asked for sources so I will provide a few. Unlike you, I've tried to avoid interest groups like the Handgun Control inc. or the NRA. If you follow the link you will find the entire document.

The U.S. Dept. of Justice:

The National Crime Victimization Survey for 2005 (PDF page 81) reports that handguns are used in fewer than 8% of all crimes of violence. This doesn't include homicide, but homicides are fewer than 0.5% of all crimes of violence, so even if one includes homicides the answer would be about 8%.

According to the Justice Department's National Crime Victimization Survey (2005 data), table 66, handguns are used in 5.4% of U.S. assaults and 26.3% of robberies.

http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/pdf/cvus05.pdf

The Times of London:

"New York has “banned” pistols since 1911, and its fellow murder capitals, Washington DC and Chicago, have similar bans. One can draw a map of the US, showing the inverse relationship of the strictness of its gun laws, and levels of violence: all the way down to Vermont, with no gun laws at all, and the lowest level of armed violence (one thirteenth that of Britain)."

"America’s disenchantment with “gun control” is based on experience: whereas in the 1960s and 1970s armed crime rose in the face of more restrictive gun laws (in much of the US, it was illegal to possess a firearm away from the home or workplace), over the past 20 years all violent crime has dropped dramatically, in lockstep with the spread of laws allowing the carrying of concealed weapons by law-abiding citizens. Florida set this trend in 1987, and within five years the states that had followed its example showed an 8 per cent reduction in murders, 7 per cent reduction in aggravated assaults, and 5 per cent reduction in rapes. Today 40 states have such laws, and by 2004 the US Bureau of Justice reported that “firearms-related crime has plummeted”.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/guest_contributors/article2409817.ece

The Detroit Free Press:

"Six years after new rules made it much easier to get a license to carry concealed weapons, the number of Michiganders legally packing heat has increased more than six-fold."

"But dire predictions about increased violence and bloodshed have largely gone unfulfilled, according to law enforcement officials and, to the extent they can be measured, crime statistics. The incidence of violent crime in Michigan in the six years since the law went into effect has been, on average, below the rate of the previous six years. The overall incidence of death from firearms, including suicide and accidents, also has declined."

"More than 155,000 Michiganders -- about one in every 65 -- are now authorized to carry loaded guns as they go about their everyday affairs, according to Michigan State Police records."

http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080106/NEWS06/801060602/1008

Statistics are like a bikini...they reveal a lot, but what they don't show is usually more interesting.

Gun deaths per 100,000 population (for the year indicated):
Homicide Suicide Other (inc Accident)

USA (2001) 3.98 5.92 0.36
Italy (1997) 0.81 1.1 0.07
Switzerland (1998) 0.50 5.8 0.10
Canada (2002) 0.4 2.0 0.04
Finland (2003) 0.35 4.45 0.10
Australia (2001) 0.24 1.34 0.10
France (2001) 0.21 3.4 0.49
England/Wales (2002) 0.15 0.2 0.03
Scotland (2002) 0.06 0.2 0.02
Japan (2002) 0.02 0.04 0

Data taken from Cukier and Sidel (2006) The Global Gun Epidemic. Praeger Security International. Westport.

In a study of 65 high-profile multiple-victim shootings in the United States over a period of 40 years, 62% of handgun shootings and 71% of long gun shootings were committed with legally acquired firearms.* Similar studies in Canada, Australia and New Zealand confirm that most mass shootings are committed by perpetrators (98% of them male) who were lawfully entitled to possess the firearms used.

* Where'd They Get Their Guns? An Analysis of the Firearms Used in High-Profile Shootings. Violence Policy Center. Washington DC, 2002

One statistic that NO ONE can debate is that if guns had never been invented, there would have been be a lot fewer dead people down through the years.
Twice in my life I have been the victim of a "violent crime". Once I stopped a teenager from obtaining alcohol when I informed a store clerk that I had seen a customer get money from the teen in the parking lot. When I left the store, the angry teen drove his vehicle straight at me and I had to jump out of the way. Police classified this as a "violent crime". The second was when I was working in a store and had someone shove me against a wall because I had to refuse his check. This too was classified as a "violent crime". As you can see, there is a big difference between a "violent crime" classification and a "gun" crime. As an emotional, hormone filled, tough guy young man (at the time), I look back and am thankful that I didn't have a gun.
We can banter statistics back and forth all day (every day), but we're missing the point. This isn't a discussion about the benefits (or lack there of) of guns. No one is contemplating confiscating anyone's gun. No one is denying anyone the "right to bear arms". No one is doing an unauthorized search and seizure (at least not with regards to guns). All that we are talking about is KEEPING a law that already exists, and has for many years. A law that simply requires that guns be unloaded and stored while driving through an area with extremely low crime rates, and nothing to shoot at (legally). . A law that very few, if any, were complaining about before these Senators suggested changing it. A law that is strongly supported by current and retired National Park employees
(who should know). I have several friends who hunt (I live in Montana). Not one says that this law has ever inconvenienced them in the least. Actually, I might not be so opposed to this change if they made the penalty for FIRING a gun (except in self defense AGAINST A HUMAN BEING) in a National Park, a mandatory felony with a very stiff (once again, mandatory) penalty. Say, ten years in prison and a hundred thousand dollar fine, for example. Under no circumstances would it be legal to shoot at, or kill, an animal. Or to fire the gun for any other reason whatsoever. Though I still think that this would put our rangers at unnecessary additional risk, I realize that compromise is sometimes required. A law abiding citizen shouldn't have any problem with these penalties.
I'm not anti-gun. I think that gun ownership is a personal choice. Heck, I played Indians and Cowboys as a child (yes, even back then I was a leftist commie, and insisted on playing the Indian because I knew that they were the ones getting the shaft); I just outgrew it.

Amazing. The impulse to commit violence is not tied, in any way, to owning a gun. Period.

"One statistic NO ONE can debate is that if guns had never been invented, there would have been be a lot fewer dead people down through the years."

This is a statement of stunning ignorance. Read any history of the Peloponnesian or Punic Wars. In "War Before Civilization", Lawrence Keely reveals just how adept primitive (lacking technology) men were at murdering each other.

"In a study of 65 high-profile multiple-victim shootings in the United States over a period of 40 years, 62% of handgun shootings and 71% of long gun shootings were committed with legally acquired firearms."

So what? Murders are committed all the time, in countries that ban firearms, by people wielding "legally acquired knives". Here is an excerpt from a USA Today story on knife violence in the U.K.:

Stabbings are the most common form of murder in Britain, where firearms — except certain shotguns and sporting rifles — are outlawed. Most police officers in Britain do not carry firearms.

Of the 839 homicides in England and Wales in the 12 months ending Nov. 28 — the most recent period for which Home Office figures are available — 29% involved sharp instruments including knives, blades and swords. Firearms account for just 9% of murders in Britain.

In London alone, there were 12,589 knife-related crimes last year. Police say the most likely people to carry knives are males ages 15 to 18.

A poll released this month by the Police Federation found that 30% of officers had been threatened by a knife-wielding suspect while on duty.

What your study of high profile multiple-victim shootings fails to mention, and what the media fails to report, is that many of these incidents are stopped by private citizens using their firearms. In 1997, an insane high school student in Pearl, Miss. opened fire on his classmates after slashing his mothers throat with a butcher knife. He was stopped by the schools assistant principal, armed with the gun he kept in his truck, and held at bay until police arrived. In 2002, a deranged Nigerian exchange student at Appalachian State Law School killed 4 people. His killing spree was stopped, long before the police arrived, by two students brandishing their own firearms.

That brings up another problem with gun related homicide statistics. They do not account for whether the deceased was a victim or a perpetrator. They simply count deaths.

Another problem is that these reports and statistics make no mention of how many violent crimes, including murder, were prevented by the use of a firearm. Studies of crime following the passing of "concealed carry" laws consistently point to reductions in crime, so many of these statistics would be much worse without guns.

"All that we are talking about is KEEPING a law that already exists, and has for many years."

That's how many people felt about abortion before enterprising leftists found a penumbra around the invisible "right to privacy" in the Constitution, which had been overlooked by scholars and judges for generations, guaranteeing citizens the right to murder the unborn. At least the rights we seek are actually spelled out in the Constitution.

"Actually, I might not be so opposed to this change if they made the penalty for FIRING a gun (except in self defense AGAINST A HUMAN BEING) in a National Park, a mandatory felony with a very stiff (once again, mandatory) penalty."

Your concern for wildlife is admirable, it's your apparent contempt for human life I find troublesome. I believe that everyone has the right to protect themselves from a potentially deadly attack regardless of whether it's from a HUMAN BEING or an animal. I have no problem with people having to justify the use of their firearm after such an event.

It appears that the only thing "getting the shaft" in this debate is common sense.

OK folks, I think we've covered all angles of this debate. Time to move on.