University Shooting Doesn't Bring A Halt to Interior Department's Review of Weapons Ban in Parks

This week's deadly shooting at North Illinois University hasn't prompted the Interior Department to table a request that it lift the ban against carrying loaded weapons in national parks. It only spurred the department to postpone consideration of the matter until next week.

According to the New York Times, Interior officials were to announce today that they would reconsider the existing ban against "concealed carry" in the parks. The shooting Thursday prompted the department to put that matter off until next week, the newspaper's editorial board said.


And so, out of respect for the dead and injured, who were killed by a handgun and a shotgun, the Interior Department has —what? Changed its mind? Thought better of its plans? No. It has merely postponed its announcement until next week.

Given the current political climate — in which the National Rifle Association calls the shots in Washington — we expect to hear soon that it will be legal to carry a loaded gun in the national parks. Fifty-one senators, all of them feeling the pressure of the NRA, have written to the Secretary of the Interior asking for this change.

If Illinois had allowed concealed carry on university campuses, would that have prevented the deadly shooting? We'll never know. But when was the last time you heard of someone with a concealed weapon, someone who wasn't a security guard or off-duty police officer, step forward in such a situation?

A year ago there was a deadly shooting in a Salt Lake City mall. And yet in Utah, one of the most conservative states in the nation and one where concealed carry is legal, only an off-duty police officer stepped forward to confront the shooter.

In the wake of Thursday's rampage the predictable debate over the pros and cons of concealed carry was contained in an article published today by Newsweek.

This is an emotionally charged debate, one that there doesn't currently appear to be a logical solution to -- there are countless Americans who believe they should be allowed to carry a weapon wherever they go, and just as many who find that appalling.

To find the national parks -- places of incredible beauty, poignant history, and even the cauldron of our country's birth -- the latest battleground for this issue shouldn't please anyone.

Comments

At least you don't have a biased view right Kirk? LOL, why is it that the difficulty of carrying a concealed weapon or the stigma associated and created by media types isn’t to blame for their only being an "off-duty cop" who was carrying a weapon. That same off duty cop, under current gun laws, is under the same restrictions in National Parks anyone else who has a state mandated carrying privilege is. (i.e. If he was in a National Park and the same event happened….it would have been worse.) I know you would love to label everyone with a gun but the reality is that “off-duty cop” is a human being just like anyone else who trains or gets the proper education warranted by the state. Just because you can call him an off-duty cop doesn’t make him a super human. In Utah there is still less than a 3% chance of you having an individual who has a concealed carry permit. Only 1 in 10 of that 3% actively carries. You're still arguing the point about gun control amongst a population of negligible proportion.

Joel,

For starters, it's "Kurt."

Biased view? I think I've mellowed over the years;-) I quite correctly pointed out that this is an emotionally charged issue, one that folks can't agree on, and lamented the fact that the national parks have been dragged into the fray.

Kurt, you fail to mention the Trolley Square Mall is a gun-free zone. No law-abiding citizen would have been carrying a gun in the mall. The off-duty officer was from Ogden, not Salt Lake City, and unless specifically allowed by local law, was violating the gun-free zone.

Here in Wisconsin we had a young deputy shoot 6 young adults last fall before killing himself. That does not prove that all police officers are gun-toting lunatics.

I would like the ability to carry a weapon out in the back country. I would pray my wife and I never need it, as we do with our first aid kit, PLB, etc. I have legally carried an encased and unloaded pistol in my backpack on non-national park land. It didn't jump out and shoot anyone. When I go out on our own land I usually carry a weapon just in case I encounter a rabid or otherwise aggresive animal. Maybe someday police officers and park rangers can "beam in" to protect people at a moment's notice. Maybe someday we can have an Orwellian society where we can know ahead of time what a person is planning and stop them before they do it. Until then we will each be responsible for our own safety.

Dave, as I read Utah law, while the mall could post a sign saying it was a "gun-free zone," that by itself does not prevent those with concealed carry permits from entering:

"... the only statutory restrictions on a permit holder are secured areas such as airports and federal buildings."

I am not sure what prompted this desire to permit folks to bring in concealed guns. The parks have allowed firearms ,broken down,. There are plenty of folks who will be reminded to bring their guns if this law passes. The seasonal staff at most parks has been cut back . I find it pretty expectable that one stressed out camper after another will aim a gun at someone over some campground issue or take it with them when they head over to the dark bathrooms in middle of the night. The seasonal law enforcement rangers , yes have their training/commission yet I can imagine that as firearm incidents rise that a kind of change will need to occur about staff qualifications, years of experience. I would suspect that in time the flavor so to speak of what kind of person wants to work in the park might change. I spent 9-10 yr. in National Parks.. working as a seasonal commissioned Law enforcement ranger for many of those years. I doubt I would have done the commmissioned L.E> route if campers were flashing their weapons.

Well, I see that, just as is the case of most mass shootings, all of the weapons used at NIU were legally obtained. Guns are just tools, gun advocates tell us. They sure are, I say. Tools of death. Guns don't kill people, they say, people kill people. Wonder how many folks would have died if that fellow had stepped out onto that stage with a couple of baseball bats? Wonder how much better things would have been if all the students and faculty in that hall had been armed, and bullets had been flying every which way?
Gun advocates tell us that, if bad guys know that everyone is (or may be) armed, they will think twice about using a gun in a crime. What they don't realize is that people who use guns in this manner don't care if they die. Indeed, they often kill themselves, as this fellow did.
Tell the parents, grandparents, siblings and friends of those who lost their lives all about the second amendment.

Kurt,

You write, "... when was the last time you heard of someone with a concealed weapon, someone who wasn't a security guard or off-duty police officer, step forward in such a situation?"

In December 2007, only months ago, Jeanne Assam shot and killed Matthew Murray after he began shooting people at the New Life Church in Colorado. The media misreported that she was a "security guard" for the church. She was not. She was a former a police officer from Minneapolis who had a gun in her purse.

In January 2002, two students stopped a gunman at Appalachian School of Law after he had killed 3 people and injured 3 more. The media, at the time, failed to report that he had been stopped by students using their private 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 almost all such cases the media makes a point of not reporting the use of firearms to stop or prevent violence. It doesn't fit their anti-gun narrative. That is why you can't remember the last time you heard about of such an occurrence. This type of agenda driven journalism leaves the public with the impression that firearms = violence.

Mentally ill people don't require firearms to kill. Richard Speck killed 8 student nurses with a knife. Jeffery Dahmer tortured and murdered 17 men and boys, killing them with a knife before cutting up their bodies. John Wayne Gacy strangled 33 people with a rope.

At the time, no one on the left cried out for knife or rope "control". I'm sure that after more such incidents you and others will want to outlaw all sharp objects. No doubt making, "running with scissors" a felony.

It's interesting that you would reopen this thread following the tragedy at North Illinois University. I guess that you, like the leftist New York Times, thought that it could be exploited to silence your critics. Sorry, while surrender may be second nature on the left, it is not in our vocabulary.

Frank and Kurt get the cheap shot award for using this tragedy to support their absurd claims of constitution change. Steven Kazmierczak had a history of mental illness. He wore tattoos of violent images from movies. By the reasoning of people like Frank and Kurt the amendments that allowed the movies and video games that influenced Steven should also be brought into question. So should the amendment that allowed him to live in our midst. What about all of those who think mental illness should be a private matter because their patients are stigmatized?
This was a terrible tragedy. As far as its relevance to gun control in the parks issues, universities in 9 states are now considering allowing licensed carry on their campuses by professors and students.

Art,

I spent 14 years with The Associated Press. From my experience mainstream media does not have an agenda, hidden or otherwise, to minimize the facts.

JoeSF,

I find it odd that you would hand out a "cheap shot" award for reporting the news. And yes, the Interior Department's decision is news, just as the university shooting is. Would you also hand out a "cheap shot" award to the many pro-gun commenters who have seized on the killing not too long ago of a young woman in a national forest in the Southeast to buttress their arguments?

Frankly, both your comments drive home the very point that I was trying to make with this post:

This is an emotionally charged debate, one that there doesn't currently appear to be a logical solution to -- there are countless Americans who believe they should be allowed to carry a weapon wherever they go, and just as many who find that appalling.

To find the national parks -- places of incredible beauty, poignant history, and even the cauldron of our country's birth -- the latest battleground for this issue shouldn't please anyone.

Kurt,

I agree that emotion can play a part in any debate around matters of individual freedom, death, etc. That is why it is always best to avoid grappling with these issues in the immediate aftermath of a tragedy. I guess the impulse to wag a finger in someone's face, rightly or wrongly, is just too much for some people.

In survival school you are taught to make a plan first. If you follow this rule, once you become exhausted, hungry and emotional you will have a plan that was laid out when you were rested, calm and rational. I think this makes sense when it comes to legislation as well.

Attempting to spin the actions of a mentally ill individual into an argument against sane, law abiding citizens being allowed the right to defend themselves just seems cynical and irrational to me.

I will not get into whether the media is biased. I think that if you reflected on that question honestly, you would have to admit that it is. Here is a link to a book review at the Virginia Tech website. You might want to read it.

http://www.vtnews.vt.edu/story.php?relyear=2006&itemno=644

Kurt, sorry for butchering your name. Just to set the record straight as a CCP holder of the state of UT and having taken a course in Springville, UT at Rangemasters. I can tell you that they expressly make aware the gun laws and choice of private business owners to post their own gun rules. This has been enforced by all LDS church buildings and properties. This also includes the local movie theatre (i.e. Provo Towncenter Mall) for southern Provo, UT (Yes, they brought this specific incident up in our CCP class). You will be fined if you have a concealed weapon on "so-marked" private property. As a CCP holder I am even more careful than I would otherwise be to make sure I leave my gun in my car when entering such establishments.
While attending the Circus (at the Delta Center) with my family a few years ago I was sent back to my car from the gate becuase they did no allow you to carry even if you had a CCP. I was griping about it with a deputy from the Sheriff's office while walking back to our cars. All he had to say was..."they better hope nothing happens to me or my family if they're goign to take the right to protect them away from me". The point remains that criminals will never obey silly laws. Hell criminals carry in parks now. This is just making sure that the government knows who the good guys are. All CCP holders are fingerprinted and given a background check. What else could you want?

Kurt,

You said ….
There is simply no legitimate or substantive reason for a thoughtful sportsman or gun owner to carry a loaded gun in a national park unless that park permits hunting. The requirement that guns in parks are unloaded and put away is a reasonable and limited restriction to facilitate legitimate purposes—the protection of precious park resources and safety of visitors.

Thanks to your “unbiased reporting” many of us now have another reason to want to protect ourselves. For those interested the proposed law you are upset about says….

“The secretary of the interior shall not promulgate or enforce any regulation that prohibits an individual from possessing a firearm in any unit of the national parks system if

(1)The individual is not otherwise prohibited by law from possessing a firearm: and

(2)The possession of the firearm is in compliance with the law of the State in which the unit of the National Park System or the National Wildlife Refuge is located.”

If you are so afraid of licensced law abiding citizens carrying firearms how can you feel safe allowing the police to have guns? Aren’t they citizens too? How about the rangers?

Sadly the tragedy the happened at MIU will be probably be repeated again. We all know this. This is why some of us want to keep the right to protect ourselves. It is why you fantasize a world where everyone is disarmed and harmless. You can wait for Angela Lansbury to figure out who did what to you, god forbid, if you like. It is still a free country. Let's keep it that way.

Joe

Joe,

Reporting 101: Get your facts right.

The statement you attribute to me in fact was a snippet of a letter sent by the Association of National Park Rangers, the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees, and the U.S. Park Rangers Lodge, Fraternal Order of Police, three groups that have histories working in the parks and which have a vested interest in the outcome of this debate.

And thanks for pointing out Sen. Coburn's amendment, although I also included it in my initial post, so I'm not sure you could claim I was being biased by overlooking it. In fact, if I truly were biased on this issue I certainly wouldn't have let any pro-gun comments appear on this site, would I?

As I've said a long, long time ago, I believe in constructive debate. We may not all agree with each other's opinions or positions, but through civil dialog sometimes we can understand each other a little better and see things in a different light.

You also are making a mistake by assuming my positions. I don't recall stating that I was afraid of law-abiding citizens carrying firearms. In fact, I don't recall taking a position on the 2nd amendment. To be truthful, in the past I've hunted and I have friends who own guns (none, by the way, who feels so at risk in a park to bring them along, legally or otherwise).

My point of raising this issue in this forum was not to dredge up a 2nd amendment debate, but rather to focus on a national park issue. I don't care who protects their home and their property by whatever means. My focus was on public lands, specifically national park lands. Now, I would guess your reply would be that it is indeed a 2nd amendment debate because your interpretation is that the amendment should allow you to carry anywhere you want to go.

Most of us accept that we're a nation governed by laws, and current laws prohibit the carrying of loaded weapons in most national park units. I personally see no need to change that law. I'm sorry you do.

Now, as I did on an earlier, similar thread, I'm going to bring an end to public discussion because this topic has been debated plenty.