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Is the National Park Service Obligated to Better Promote Proposed Change in Gun Regulations?


Does the National Park Service have an obligation -- before the public comment period closes -- to better inform the general public about proposed changes to the existing gun regulations? While those who closely follow national park issues and gun issues more than likely are aware of the proposal to allow park visitors to arm themselves, does the general park-going public?
Those changes[/url], of course, might allow holders of concealed weapons permits to carry their loaded weapons with them while admiring Old Faithful, hiking into the Grand Canyon, or strolling across the Colter Bay campground in search of a cold beer.

That question about alerting the public to the possibility that the park visitor standing next to them might soon be armed was raised this week 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. In a letter to Park Service Director Mary Bomar the groups asked her what "specific steps have you taken or will you take to ensure that National Park System visitors and National Park Service employees will be informed of this proposed change to a regulation that has been in place in some form for 88 years?"

"Will you provide them with the opportunity to know that they have the ability to officially comment on this proposed change?" the letter adds.

Disconcertingly, according to the groups, top Interior Department officials specifically prohibited Park Service employees from commenting on the proposed change in their official capacities. Wouldn't you hope that if such a drastic change were being made to your workplace environment that you'd be able to voice your opinions on it?

"Their professional expertise in managing parks should not be ignored in making this decision, nor should it be hidden from the public as they weigh their individual decision on whether to oppose or support the proposed change," reads the letter.

At the Park Service's Washington, D.C., headquarters, Communications Chief David Barna says the agency went about publicizing the proposed change the same way it publicizes other proposals up for public comment.

The Interior Department "did put out a press release announcing the public comment period and articles have run in over 200 newspapers. That's the process we use for all public comment issues," said Mr. Barna.

Some no doubt would argue that a proposed change of such magnitude and with such potential wide-ranging impacts would merit more publicity during the ongoing 60-day comment period and would gain more visibility if notices explaining the proposal were inserted into park newspapers given to visitors as they enter parks and were placed on park websites.


cwp holders should be allowed to carry any where,all you jurlnist think you speak for everyone but the ones that cause problems in parks don' usually use guns to kill you with,there knives,rock ,sticks, even cliff you going to keep all that out also get real . atleast we should have the right to protect ourselves

I am a pilot/bear guide in Alaska and am not required to have a permit to carry a gun. A gun doesnt replace knowledge planning and common sense. Which is a good reason to not allow just anyone capable of obtaining a permit the privelage to do so. I know a few and have met too many gun carrying people in the lower 48 with permits and Alaska who wish for an excuse to shoot any wild animal that moves. I witnessed just recently while watching several brown bears feeding on a beached whale carcass, 2 planes fly directly over my head at 200 feet scaring numerous bears away. Then after landing they approached on foot quickly scaring more bears then were nearly charged by a disturbed bear who got quite close to them. They [the irresponsible pilots] felt safe, their guns providing a very false sense of security. After the bear walked away one of the pilots pointed his gun in the air and pretended he was shooting it, looking like he was a child.... I also know alot of responsible gun carriers but, it only takes a few to completely ruin everything. I witness so many tourists here in Alaska who when seeing a moose stop their cars run across the road nearly being run over by other cars and place themselves a few feet from the moose, sometimes near its calf and shoot pictures. Others I guide dont listen to me and show no common sense. These kinds of people DONT FREAKING NEED A WEAPON!!!!!
There are just way too many irresponsible & ignorant people out there that just cant be educated. There is a reason we've had gun control all these years. It is the irrational, unreasonable, narrow minded fool who believes we dont need control. Open your minds please. Alaska is a different kind of example and another debate. & I am a gun fanatic but, an open minded reasoning one....

As I grew up on the Sol Duc River of the Olympic Peninsula, Lyle Cowles - a lead Park trail-crew foreman - raised his kids next door. My family subsisted largely on deer & elk, with lots of choice fish & beach-food (plus a huge garden & wild fruit). The Cowles were vegetarian 7th Day Adventists. Lyle went ashore with the Marines on Guadalcanal, and his weapons hung on the bedroom wall, though he did not hunt.

I did not experience an urban environment until about age 5 ... and thought the whole world consisted of forest, mountains, and small roads threading little towns together. I was shocked to see streetlights burning along the freeway ... and everywhere in the city when we got up at 5am in the morning!

The Park is a sample of how I'd prefer everything to be, but without the borders and extra rules. I therefore like the Park & wilderness. The NPS is far from perfect, but at least on account of it we have decent reminders scattered through the western States.

I always knew it was goofy to suspend the 2nd Amendment, within Parks, but the irregularity of it never really percolated up the priority queue through other issues, for me. That it (somewhat strangely..) now obviously has, for Congress and the Dept. of Interior, should probably serve as a clue to all of us that there may be more than one side to any particular coin. That seemingly-simple moves may arise from/reflect complex motives & factors. (Indeed, Congress has been prominently 'experimenting' with Park-policy, for many years.)

Many (contemporary) career Park-people and folks of related liberal-environmental viewpoints have taken positions with regard to Parks and their personal role in & identification with them, which are at odds with various important facts & realities. Park personnel are employees not of an ideal or theoretical notion, but are servants of the truck drivers and waitresses of our nation. Park lands aren't the holdings of abstracted entities, but are the property of the public. Additional layers of rules & red tape might obscure the situation, but we shouldn't let ourselves misconstrue the basic facts. The great unwashed public is the boss. Even Congress is only the trail-crew foreman.

My off-hand interpretation of the recent DOI ruling to allow local (State) laws to set the firearms regulations on Park lands within their jurisdiction, is that it may be intended as a corrective, to bring career Park people (and additional circles of close sympathizers) around to a more reality-based posture, with respect to whose land it is they are caring for, and who's viewpoint & needs are ascendant. It looks like it could be a 'shot across the bow', to me.

To let the new ruling induce one to take sides in a conflict between opponents and supporters of gun ownership, is to invade Iraq when the problem is clearly not there. It is a diversion and a misapplication of resources. The options open to Park professionals and like-minded preservationists do not include making a call on the 2nd Amendment (and since D.C. vs Heller, this is plainly a fall-back & regroup point for opponents, anyway).

Instead, the available actions for the Park & allies mainly center around how to successfully & competently manage the presence of firearms within Park facilities, and how to more-broadly inform & guide the general public (once the formal comment-period & appeals-processes are completed).

I believe the fear of firearms within Parks is largely a matter of perception, and that what goes on in the Parks will remain close to what takes place now. I - like others who are knowledgeable on the matter - know that certain individuals have long elected to discretely tuck a pistol in their backpack. Few problems arise with such individuals, and few will arise henceforth.

Thus, what is a stake is not the safety of our Parks, nor the disposition of the 2nd Amendment. Instead, it appears to be a question of who really has the ultimate proper authority to set basic policy. Park firearm policy has been guided by the personal beliefs and lifestyle positions of a dedicated & excellent few, who nonetheless were never elected, do not represent the citizens, and acted beyond their authority. That appears now to be under reconsideration.

Kurt, excellent rebuttal and it helps reading between the lines better on thee issue.


Is not just about everything we do in life based on some form of probability and statistics? We grade our kids on how well they studied, make a split-second decision on the probability of running through the yellow light before it turns red, have doctors give us the odds of dying from disease, decide whether to fly or drive depending on whether we believe there's a probability that the plane will crash, and every four years let statistics determine who will reside in the White House.

We want to know the probability of rain today so we can dress accordingly, the odds of whether our offspring will be male or female, or the odds of winning the Lotto so we can gamble on being able to quit our job. If the odds of being murdered or accosted in a national park were incredibly high, the arguments of those who want to arm themselves would not only be more reasonable but, probably, more palatable.

Heck, statistics even went into the Bill of Rights and the recent Supreme Court 5-4 decision on guns in Washington, D.C. What's the probability of that one swing vote going for the D.C. law and allowing local governments to ban weapons?

Beyond that, though, you point out a very good aspect of the Bill of Rights: The 2nd amendment was intended to counter tyranny, not to make each and every American a judge and jury in the blink of an eye. So if you want to couch the 2nd Amendment on that point, and if you accept the recent Supreme Court decision that Americans are allowed to arm themselves in their homes and that reasonable laws pertaining to access to weapons are permissible, then what are the odds that someone will claim the 2nd Amendment still allows them to pack anywhere at any time?

Would that be the faulty reasoning you refer to?

"At the end of the day, you're more likely to die in a car accident, from cancer, from poor health and exercise habits, illegal drug use, and illicit sex than from roaming a park unarmed.

Let's try to keep some perspective here."
I'll give you car accident and cancer, but do you really believe the rest of that sentence? I am someone who hikes our National Parks. I've met others on trails and in campgrounds. I've never met anyone who spends time in the parks alone or in small (2-4 persons) groups who I believe is more likely to die from those things. I have, however met men in the parks who have quite frankly scared the hell out of me. I have pulled the big knife out of the mess kit while praying to God that that crazy s.o.b. that had just entered my campsite drunk and demanding that I remove my shirt didn't have a gun. I want to continue to enjoy MY National Parks. I don't want to be killed or raped. Bad people do not care about laws. They don't need permits to carry guns. Please try to understand that those of us who want to use our 2nd ammendment right to carry firearms aren't bad people.

One of the best comments yet on this issue. Not your usual NRA spiel or gung-ho and gun-ho comments like Freddie pistol hugging pete.

"At the end of the day, you're more likely to die in a car accident, from cancer, from poor health and exercise habits, illegal drug use, and illicit sex than from roaming a park unarmed.

Let's try to keep some perspective here."

The perspective we should keep is that of the Bill of Rights and the Constitution. The Second Amendment, as with all the amendments, does not allow for probability and statistics. The Bill of Rights limits the power of the government. Period. In short, the right to carry firearms has nothing to do with the likelihood that one might need to use that firearm. Faulty reasoning, based on probability and statistics and not the law, ignores the fundamental reason why the founders penned the second amendment: protection from tyranny. The likelihood of needing to use arms to overthrow a tyrannical government might be small. But take away the right to bear arms (as was done in Nazi Germany for Jewish people), and the likelihood of needing to overthrow a tyrannical government might increase. Odds mean nothing when it comes to Constitutional Rights. I may never need to invoke the 5th Amendment's protection from self-incrimination, but god bless America, I'm glad it's there for me just in case. Just like the 2nd Amendment.

Thank you.

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