Traveler's View: Concealed Weapons Have No Place In Our National Park System

Editor's note: The public comment period on the Interior Department's proposal to allow national park visitors to carry concealed weapons runs through June. If you haven't already commented, please consider doing so at this site before the deadline. This is a high profile, emotionally and politically charged issue, one that figures to affect all visitors to our national parks. Don't let it be decided without your voice. What follows is the Traveler's position on this proposal.

Dear Secretary Kempthorne,

There are many fine centennial projects under way, and proposed, to help the National Park Service prepare itself and the 391 units of the National Park System for the agency's centennial in 2016. Hopefully there will be many more in place before that celebration arrives.

While there are many concerns about the risks of commercializing the parks along the way to 2016, so far things seem to be under control. Except, that is, for one glaring example that could bring the likes of Smith & Wesson, Glock, SIG and other brands of handguns into our National Park System.

Mr. Secretary, forgive those of us who might think the National Rifle Association's full-court press to see the National Park Service's gun regulations tossed out the window is its version of a centennial project. I'm sure it's merely a timing thing -- the NRA's election-year gambit pitted against your Centennial Initiative.

National Parks Do Not Have a Crime Problem

Joking aside, Mr. Secretary, there simply is no need to change the current gun regulations for our national parks. The National Park System is not crime-ridden. Far and away, the majority of the hundreds of millions of visitors who entered some unit of the National Park System last year did not place their lives in danger from other park visitors nor from wild animals when they did so. You can look it up. I did. This is what I found:

While even one murder is too many, the crime statistics for a park system that attracts more visitors than Major League Baseball, the National Football League, professional basketball, soccer
and NASCAR combined would seem to indicate that parks are relatively safe havens from violent crime.

During 2006, when 273 million park visits were tallied, there were 11 criminal deaths across the system. Two involved women who were pushed off cliffs (one at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and one at Lake Mead National Recreation Area), one was a suicide (at Golden Gate National Recreation Area), and one was the victim of a DUI accident (in Yellowstone National Park).

National Park Service records also show that one of the 11 deaths, reported in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, involved a stabbing that was spawned by an alcohol-fueled altercation. Great Smoky also was the setting of a fatal shooting of another woman; three people were arrested for this crime.

The suicide at Golden Gate involved a man who "began shooting at hang gliders. He did not hit any of the hang gliders, but then he shot a stranger. Then he turned the gun on himself."

At the Blue Ridge Parkway, a woman parked at an overlook and wearing headphones while studying for final exams "was killed by a handgun by a suspect on a killing spree," the Park Service said. In another case involving the parkway, the body of an individual shot and killed outside the parkway was dumped there.

At Amistad National Recreation Area, a woman was found floating in a reservoir in about 5 feet of water. "She appeared to have blunt force trauma to the head and was possibly stabbed," the agency said.

The last two murders were reported in Washington, D.C., area park units. In one case a victim died from a gunshot wound to the head, in the other, U.S. Park Police found a partial human skull, with an apparent gunshot wound, on the shoreline of the Anacostia River. This crime didn't necessarily occur in the park system.

Most folks, I think, would agree that the suicide, two pushing victims, and the DUI victim couldn't have been prevented if guns were allowed to be carried in the national parks. And, of course, there was the victim who was murdered outside the Blue Ridge Parkway. That lowers to six the number of violent deaths investigated in the parks, one of which involved a stabbing in a drunken brawl, an outcome that could have turned out just the same -- or worse-- if either individual was carrying a gun.

During 2006 there also were 320 assaults without weapons, 1,950 weapons offenses, 843 public intoxication cases, and 5,752 liquor law violations. How many of those might have turned deadly were concealed carry allowed in the park system?

Last year, 2007, the numbers fell lower. There were nine criminal deaths across the park system, 1,495 weapons offenses, and 974 public intoxication cases.

Mr. Secretary, before you opt to change the current restrictions, consider the input from your National Park Service professionals, both those in Washington and those spread across the National Park System. After all, the agency is not calling for this change that would allow visitors to carry concealed weapons at the ready, nor is the Ranger Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police, nor is the Association of National Park Rangers.

More so, all seven living former National Park Service directors (appointed, by the way, by presidents of both parties) are on record saying this proposed change is unnecessary (see attachment).

Why is the NRA Pushing For Armed Visitors in the Parks?

So why is it necessary to rewrite regulations that already allow gun owners to transport their weapons through our parks? True, those regulations require that the weapons be unloaded, broken down, and stored out of easy reach, but is that unreasonable? From here it seems as if only the self-righteous NRA, ever anxious to boost its membership, feels that the only safe national park is one where the visitors are armed and ready.

So anxious is the NRA to see this change that it changes its stance when the circumstances dictate. For instance, the NRA freely admits that it "initiated and worked closely" with U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, on a letter the senator sent to you asking for concealed carry to be the lay of the federal landscape. A portion of that letter claims that inconsistencies between state and federal gun laws are "confusing, burdensome, and unnecessary." And yet, NRA spokeswoman Ashley Varner, told the Smoky Mountain News that rangers in parks that touch multiple states shouldn't have trouble keeping track of varying laws.

“I think that’s a bogus argument,” she told the newspaper. “Our park rangers know the laws. They are fully capable of understanding where they are within the forest.” (Judging from Ms. Varner's choice of words, could it be that the NRA doesn’t know the difference between the national forests and the national parks?)

So, on one hand the NRA says those who are permitted to carry concealed weapons are confused by the current laws, and yet if rangers are required to memorize more than one set of gun laws and all their intricacies and nuances that's not a problem.

Is the NRA implying that gun owners aren't capable of understanding when they leave state lands and enter national parks?

Allowed Concealed Carry in the Parks Will Complicate, Not Simplify, Matters

Mr. Secretary, since at least 1936 (earlier gun prohibitions were instituted at many individual parks, as the attached file shows) it's been clear that visitors are not allowed to carry weapons in national parks, unless that park allows hunting, of which there are relatively few. But under the proposal you are endorsing, concealed carry in the parks would depend on myriad state laws, some of which carry quite a few nuances. Scan the laws out there and you can certainly see where your proposal would make for a much, much more confusing landscape than currently exists in the National Park System.

Jim Burnett, a commissioned law enforcement officer during much of his 30-year Park Service career, discovered the significant challenge that exists for sorting out all of those conflicting regulations. Here's a sampling of his findings:

The State of Wyoming Attorney General's website sums up this problem: "It is extremely important for all concealed firearm permit holders to be aware of the requirements and laws of all reciprocating states. The permit issued by your state does not supersede any other state’s laws or regulations. Legal conduct in your state may not be legal in the state you are visiting."

The State of Florida website on concealed weapons permits notes, "The Division of Licensing constantly monitors changing gun laws in other states and attempts to negotiate agreements as the laws in those states allow." Even if someone took time to sort out the concealed weapons laws of all the states he'd be visiting, some of those laws may have changed recently, so the process has to be repeated before every trip.

Here's only one example of the problem: Florida has reciprocal agreements to honor concealed weapons permits with only 32 of the 50 states. Visit the other 18 and you're out of luck, so don't forget to lock up your gun when you cross the state line. To make matters worse, Florida's official website notes seven different exceptions to those agreements, so even among the 32 states with agreements, guidelines vary. Are you a resident or non-resident? Are you over the age of 18 but under 21? Are you from Vermont, which doesn't even require a concealed weapons permit? (Sorry, you can't "carry" in Florida under the reciprocal agreement guidelines, since Florida can't "reciprocate" if a permit doesn't exist in the first place.) The list of exceptions goes on.


So, Mr. Secretary, not only will rangers have to be knowledgeable about federal laws, but also the laws of the states that their parks fall within. And then, of course, there are the parks -- Yellowstone, Great Smoky, Death Valley, and the Blue Ridge Parkway just for example, as there are several more -- that span more than one state. As a result, rangers will not only have to be schooled on those states' gun laws but also, presumably, carry a GPS unit so they know in which state they're in when they're in the backcountry so they'll know which set of laws to apply to armed backcountry travelers.

Professional law enforcement rangers, at least, are trained to pay attention to jurisdiction and legal authorities; can we reasonably expect the average visitor to do the same?

2nd Amendment Rights Are Not in Jeopardy Under the Existing Guidelines

Mr. Secretary, in arguing for this change of regulations, the NRA and more than a few of its members would have you believe that their 2nd Amendment rights are being trampled by the national park regulations. Really, Mr. Secretary, this isn't a 2nd Amendment issue. No one is trying to deny folks the right to carry arms, although you couldn't tell that by listening to the NRA. Nor are you denying that weapons can be prohibited in federal buildings, or that states – if they choose – can decide to prohibit them in the national parks within their states.

So this isn’t a 2nd amendment issue. If it’s anything, it’s a states rights issue. But where in federal law does it say that the states should make decisions about how national parks are managed? In fact, the law says quite the opposite:

16 US Code 1-1a says that the National Park Service (not the states) “shall promote and regulate the use of the Federal areas known as national parks.”

Why did this issue crop up now, 2008? Could it be because this is an election year, one that not only has members of Congress up for re-election but also the president's office? Could it be that the NRA is trying to use guns in the parks as a wedge issue, to force politicians to kowtow to the almighty weapon to be re-elected?

What should be at issue here is some sanity and reasonableness. Just as the 1st Amendment carries restrictions concerning where you can voice your right to free speech -- after all, there are prohibitions against inciting violence and yelling "Fire!!" in a crowded theater -- there are and should be reasonable restrictions as to where you can carry your gun, if you choose to carry one at all.

Statistics Show More Guns Are Not the Answer

Mr. Secretary, more and more it seems that as gun violence escalates the NRA believes the only answer is to respond with more guns. Seemingly, we live in a gun-crazed society. If the NRA isn't evidence of that, just look at the publicity surrounding the release of Grand Theft Auto IV, one of the more controversial video games that actually awards points for murder.

Or, look at the statistics. According to a 1994 study performed for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the United States "has by far the highest rate of gun deaths -- murders, suicides and accidents -- among the world's 36 richest nations ... The U.S. rate for gun deaths in 1994 was 14.24 per 100,000 people. Japan had the lowest rate, at .05 per 100,000."

In response to those statistics a Johns Hopkins University researcher who specialized in gun violence remarked that, "If you have a country saturated with guns -- available to people when they are intoxicated, angry or depressed -- it's not unusual guns will be used more often. ... This has to be treated as a public health emergency.''

The statistics point to just such an emergency, Mr. Secretary. Here are some sobering numbers, from the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence:

Gun Deaths and Injury - The United States Leads the World in Firearm Violence

• In 2004, 29,569 people in the United States died from firearm-related deaths – 11,624
(39%) of those were murdered; 16,750 (57%) were suicides; 649 (2.2%) were accidents;
and in 235 (.8%) the intent was unknown. In comparison, 33,651 Americans were
killed in the Korean War and 58,193 Americans were killed in the Vietnam War.

• For every firearm fatality in the United States in 2005, there were estimated to be more
than two non-fatal firearm injuries.

• In 2004, firearms were used to murder 56 people in Australia, 184 people in Canada, 73
people in England and Wales, 5 people in New Zealand, and 37 people in Sweden. In
comparison, firearms were used to murder 11,624 people in the United States.

• In 2005, there were only 143 justifiable homicides by private citizens using handguns in
the United States.


Mr. Secretary, as you well know national parks are widely popular backdrops for family vacations. During the summer vacation months the sounds of laughing and giggling children can be heard throughout the park system as they run and play. Do you also know that more children and teens died died as the result of gun violence in the United States in 2003 than all the U.S. military deaths in Iraq from 2003 to 2006? If we can’t prevent such tragedies in America, can we not at least try to keep the national parks as sanctuaries from such violence to the degree possible?

Mr. Secretary, it seems you want to make it even easier to carry guns in America in general and our national parks specifically.

Here are some more statistics compiled by the Brady Campaign that point to the flawed logic that an armed America is a safer America. In fact, looking at these numbers, an argument could be made that arming more Americans with more weapons isn't decreasing murders but is leading to more suicides, accidental deaths, and accidental shootings. Plus, as the Brady Campaign points out, more and more youth are being killed because of our gun culture:

Gun Violence - Young Lives Cut Short

• In 2004, nearly 8 children and teenagers, ages 19 and under, were killed with guns
every day. (My emphasis)

• In 2004, firearm homicide was the second-leading cause of injury death for men and
women 10-24 years of age - second only to motor vehicle crashes.

* In 2004, firearm homicide was the leading cause of death for black males ages 15-34.

• From 1999 through 2004, an average of 916 children and teenagers took their own lives
with guns each year.

* Each year during 1993 through 1997, an average of 1,621 murderers who had not
reached their 18th birthdays took someone's life with a gun.


Mr. Secretary, you claim that, “The safety and protection of park and refuge visitors remains a top priority for the Department of the Interior,” and that the proposed revisions are intended to make gun regulations in the parks more consistent with state laws. On that second point, about making the national parks more consistent with state laws, should we also make them more consistent in terms of logging, and mining, and hunting? Why have a national park system if the goal is to diminish the parks distinctiveness from other places? That too, seems to violate Congress’ clear intent, codified again in 16 US Code 1a-1:
Congress declares that the national park system, which began with establishment of Yellowstone National Park in 1872, has since grown to include superlative natural, historic, and recreation areas in every major region of the United States, its territories and island possessions; that these areas, though distinct in character, are united through their inter-related purposes and resources into one national park system as cumulative expressions of a single national heritage; that, individually and collectively, these areas derive increased national dignity and recognition of their superb environmental quality through their inclusion jointly with each other in one national park system preserved and managed for the benefit and inspiration of all the people of the United States…

Will More Guns Really Make the National Parks Safer?

Mr. Secretary, will allowing concealed carry in the parks give parents peace of mind when they put their children down for the night in campgrounds where those in the next site might have a weapon? Will it make it safer for visitors riding on shuttle buses if many of their fellow riders are armed? Will it make it safer for rangers responding to drunken fights in campgrounds? Will you require concessionaires to install gun lockers in their lodges? Will restaurant and convenience store patrons have to check their weapons at the door? Will it be OK to knock down a couple shots of Jack Daniels and chase it with a beer at the Bear Pit Lounge in the Old Faithful Inn while you're packing?

Mr. Secretary, many gun owners are quick to proclaim that they are as skilled and tested as Park Service law enforcement rangers when it comes to handling guns. Is that so?

As I understand it, the intensive training program for law enforcement rangers is 18 weeks long. Then, once the ranger completes their basic law enforcement training at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center their next stop, after a short break at their home park, is to report to a field training park for an additional 10 weeks of mentored, hands-on experience. The Field Training Officers are experienced rangers who are specifically trained to provide field training. They are with the trainees in the field, but the trainees make all the law enforcement contacts while the training officers serve as observers, back-up, and evaluators.

Mr. Secretary, if violence breaks out in a national park, whether in the backcountry or the front country, are you comfortable with the possibility that some park visitor, armed with a Smith & Wesson or a Glock, will either try to bring things under control on their own or rush to the aid of a ranger, who then will be in the uncomfortable position of having to decide in an eye-blink who can be trusted with a firearm and who can't be?

What, Mr. Secretary, would you tell international visitors, many whose home countries have extremely stringent gun laws, to make them feel safe in our parks if concealed carry is permitted? Should you sign off on this change, how would you explain it to visitors to Waterton/Glacier International Peace Park?

Mr. Secretary, don't you think that as we move towards the National Park Service’s centennial in 2016 one thing we should strive to do is use the national parks to instill in visitors not just a feeling of safety, that they’ve entered sanctuaries, but to convince tomorrow’s generations that they don’t need to arm themselves to feel safe?

Mr. Secretary, can you honestly say, after considering all the facts and after closing your eyes and ears to all the political pandering, that increasing the number of loaded weapons in our parks is a good idea? I urge you to reconsider. Stand up to the NRA and for the national parks.

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NPS Firearms-history.pdf149.38 KB
NPS Directors-Guns.pdf93.94 KB

Comments

First of all, I think the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees need to stay retired. They and so many other people blow this whole thing out of porportion.

Its not so you can shoot a bear if you or he crosses paths.
Its not so troublesome people can tote a gun.
It is not so idiots can target practice in the parks.

It is so a trained person With a carry permit may legally carry a fire arm and defend him or herself against an otherwise possible death.

If you were a thief, crook, criminal, rapist whatever, would you indiscriminately do your thing if you knew that the chance of the person you are about to assault may just be carrying and that you may just get your ass burned? Just knowing that law abiding citizens can, may and most likey be carrying would make you think twice. Criminals primarily prey on those who can not defend themself.

One city that told their citizense to buy and keep a gun for self defense (unless they didn't think they could use or not feal comfortable with it). The crime dropped to almost nil. The criminals moved out!!

Parks, even though safer than cities still have their problems too. There have been rapes and attempted rapes, theft, murder. By the time you call for help (and usually there's no cell service) and you tell him to hold up a minute so you can try to call while he waits to hold the knife to your throat--well, if you don't get the picture, your not human or a criminal).

Track records prove that those who have concealed carry permits are generaly safer and very law obiding citizens.

Think carfully about the following thought provokers:

1. An armed man is a citizen. An unarmed man is a subject.

2. A gun in the hand is better than an officer on the phone (that is if you even have service).

3. Gun control is not about guns; it's about control.

4. If guns cause crime, then pencils cause misspelled words.

5. If you don't know your rights, you don't have any.

6. The United States Constitution (c)1791. All Rights Reserved.

7. 64,999,987 legal firearms owners killed no one yesterday.

8. Know guns, know peace, know safety. No guns, no peace, no safety.

9. You don't shoot to kill; you shoot to stay alive.

10. Assault is a behavior, not a device.

11. Criminals love gun control; it makes their jobs safer.

12. If guns cause crime, then matches cause arson.

13. Only a government that is afraid of its citizens tries to control them.

14. You have only the rights you are willing to fight for.

15. When you remove the people's right to bear arms, you create slaves.

16. The American Revolution would never have happened with gun control.

17. If tools kill rather than people, then outlaw cars and all other transpertation, as they also are tools.

Yes indeed, if I were a criminal, I'd have absolutely no qualms "doing my thing", as I'd be quite certain that whether you're armed or not, since I'd have the element of surprise over you, and be brandishing my artillery first, your weapon becomes inconsequential. Actually, while I'm in the process of relieving you of your valuables and possibly your life, if you're stupid enough to resist and I'm sufficiently pissed off, you're serving to supplement my arsenal with your own weapon, which I can utilize in further criminal activity with total impunity, at least for a while, since it's registered to YOU.

Over and above that, the pointless, thoughtless arguments about matches, pencils and tools are completely off base. Maybe you can answer this basic question........what specific purpose do firearms serve BESIDES inflicting bodily harm?

An unarmed person is also a citizen. Nice try.

Criminals prey on those to which they stand to gain the greatest profit at the specific instance that they require something, the profit being whatever suits their purposes at the time. Sometimes it pertains to money, sometimes sex, sometimes transportation; the possibilities are limited only by the need of those in need, not by whether you are weak, armed, or vulnerable. If that were indeed the case, then car alarms would be totally effective, as would guard dogs, surveillance cameras, metal detectors, and peace officers.

Maybe we should all relocate to this alleged nirvana with a zero crime rate and no criminal element. Where is it?

Please explain how the revolution would have been inhibited by gun control. Unless of course you're referring to gun control as the total outlawing of all guns, which is NOT what anyone believes the definition of gun control is, was or ever will be. That statement has no basis in logic.

Finally, the elimination of guns would indeed bring peace. Not total peace. Other weapons would serve the purpose, but the cowardly killings would cease. Personally, I'd encourage buying stock in Louisville Slugger.

Wow: Maybe it's time for the people in the park to read the Constitution again. Next I won't be able to say wow, that's pretty. I wouldn't want to influence the guy next to me by using my rights to speach.

One of my least fun places is watching a person smoking a joint during the fire season. Does that cause more damage than a gun? Yes, in California it does.

Oops, sorry, if I can't take a managment tool to protect my wife and companion dog, I just won't go. My dog is search and rescue, and no he will not become part of the food chain if you get lost.

Enjoy...

No worries...we WILL soon be allowed to carry LEGALLY in our national parks. As it should have always been anyway for LAW ABIDING CITIZENS. Sheesh....

I doubt serious if any of these people had a concealed carry permit and I don't know of any one that has a concealed carry permit, including myself, that engages in such stupidity.
That's one big problem, everyone seams to think that any one who has a concealed carry permit is like these guys, and that's simply not true.
Unfortunately, people like these guys give a bad name to all people who own guns.
These people you speak of are the ones that should not own guns and are a thorn in the side to the rest of us who do.

In answer to Lone Honker's reply on On June 18th, 2008 to S.I.R. June 17th,

Lone Honker,
Spoken like a true criminal ! Almost had me believing you were one, but believe me, you better use the element of surprise to your advantage or you won't win because I'll go down with you if need be. And yes, you may add my weapon to your already existing arsenal, it even happens to police officers at times, if you succeed. But don't you believe we are going to just give it up , because you, might just miscalculate and make a mistake and your head may just be handed to you on a silver platter you can no longer use. You have avery dangerous job, and its going to get tougher. That's why your trying so hard to spread propaganda to keep guns out of the hands of your potential victims.
You say criminals only prey on those whom they stand to gain the greatest profit from, WOW guess they didn't let each other know about that one. Ya some of them even rob places for 5 or 10 bucks out of the till and a pack of smokes and then shooting every one in the store that could be a witness. OH let me stop there, foolish me, must have been from embarrassment because of the chump change. Ha Ha. And by the needs of those who need? They can get their lazy butts out there and work for what they need like you and I do!!! No one has to murder other people just because the want a pack of smokes and 5 or 10 bucks for bear. or drugs

And yes, all tools were designed for a special purpose. Guns (in answer to your question) were designed for hunting and protection, but no tool of itself can function without one of use making it do so. There for it in in the mind of an individual operating the tool as to use it for or outside its purpose, not the tool itself.
By the way, (sorry if your a vegetarian) but its a little hard to run down bamby for dinner with a knife. Guess I could use my car - na, that just ain't natural.

And yes an unarmed person can also be a citizen. But w/o protection can quite possibly becomes a victim to those who have no continence. Your right, does not make him or her not a citizen or maybe a "Subject"? One of the big reasons Japan did not attack us inland was to many citizens owned guns. During W.W.II the Japanese decided not to invade America because they knew most Americans were ARMED! Admiral Yamamoto, who crafted the attack on Pearl Harbour had attended Harvard U 1919-1921 & was Naval Attaché to the U. S. 1925-28. Most of the US Navy was destroyed at Pearl Harbor & their Army had been deprived of funding & was ill prepared to defend the country. It was reported that when asked why Japan did not follow up the Pearl Harbor attack with an invasion of the U. S. Mainland, his reply was that he had lived in the U. S. & knew that almost all households had guns.
Uganda established gun control in 1970. From 1971 to 1979, 300,000 Christians, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.
Cambodia established gun control in 1956. From 1975 to 1977, one million 'educated' people, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.
In 1929, the Soviet Union established gun control. From 1929 to 1953, about 20 million dissidents, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated. In 1911, Turkey established gun control. From 1915 to 1917, 1.5 million Armenians, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated. Germany established gun control in 1938 and from 1939 to 1945, a total of 13 million Jews and others who were unable to defend themselves were rounded up and exterminated. China established gun control in 1935. From 1948 to 1952, 20 million political dissidents, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated. And on and on. Ref : http://www.frontierbullets.co.za/news.htm

One of the "nervonas " with (O) crime as you put it, (I said near nill) is GEUDA SPRINGS, Kansas ( that is if you care to live in Kansas )

Any way that's this man's opinion:
Have a nice day.
S.I.R.

Sad that so many are so vehemently against fellow citizens exercizing a Right. I pray that a day comes when gun ownership/posession is an unremarkable thing. The fear of guns and those who posess them is insanity bred by an incessant media equating guns with crime. Fact is millions of times a year guns are used and enjoyed for the shooting sports, hunting and self defense with no issues and no one getting hurt.

All these statics are making my head swim. The road to hell is paved with good intentions. I understand what gun laws are supposed to do, but when are we going to figure it out.......it's obviously not working. The only that has happened is morre law abiding citizens are left defenseless by well meaning gun laws meant to keep criminals from being criminals. The simple fact is that intricate gun laws only turn otherwise lawabiding citizens into criminals. That's not what America is about.

Lets have some trust in the American Citizen. Our government was set about on freedom. Because others don't feel comfortable with a firearm being present, does not mean that other should be neglected their Rights.

Blood will not run in the streets, drunken gunfights will not happen, protected game will not be poached and gun owners will not play policemen waving a pistol around........it will be a non-issue.

If you honestly believe that there's no crime in National Parks then I invite you to come spend some time on the Ozark Scenic Riverways during the summer. Better yet, have your teenaged or early twenties daughter camp in one of those parks, alone. Locals here know better than to use those parks during the summer tourist season because of the drunken, rowdy, and dangerous urban detritus that show up during that time.

And no, the above statement in no ways lessens the argument for guns in the hands of those obeying the State laws. State law already makes it a Class C felony to possess a firearm while intoxicated, a Class D felony if it's loaded. So the drunkards would not be suddenly allowed to carry, not that they'd care one way or another. The people you seem to fear, the people you're in favor of keeping disarmed and helpless, are the responsible, law-abiding, well-behaved folk who would be no threat to anyone except those who threaten them.

Our state has had a "shall issue" concealed carry law for about five years now. We've not seen the promised cowboy shootouts on Main Street. We've not had the road rage gun battles predicted by those opposed to citizen self defense. We have had a few would-be carjackers come to a bad end, a few pizza deliverymen shooting armed robbers, a few convenience store clerks who fought back successfully instead of being killed.

Even one death by a criminal in a state park because the victim was disarmed by her government is one too many. Maybe you wouldn't care for your daughter to be armed, but I'd rather my daughter be armed in a National Park than be the next Meredith Emerson.

If it saves only one life, CCW in national parks is justified.

Although I disagree with your article Mr. Repanshek I most certainly enjoyed reading it. You have done a fine job researching and presenting you point.

I am an educated man myself who has been researching the prevention of violent crime for well over a decade. I am a husband and father...and a good citizen. As a man we are obligated, we have a duty to protect our loved ones and other citizens. The single most effective tool for protection from a violent criminal is a firearm.

Why would you argue against my being able to protect my wife and children in the same manner I do everywhere else?

I am in the US Navy and currently hold a concealed weapons license and teach small arms safety. I have read most of the comments that have been written and it seems to me that the people who are opposed to allowing law abiding Americans who have been licensed by the government to carry are concerned for their safety. This intrigues me because at any given time you may be surround by any number of people walking down the side walk, through the mall, or shopping at your local grocery store that are carrying a concealed weapon without your knowledge. I haven’t heard one complaint of safety in those areas yet. Why would the National park system be any different? Do you really think that people who are licensed to carry a concealed weapon is going to randomly just shoot up a national park? Then why aren’t they randomly shooting up Wal-mart, Publix, or while walking down the sidewalk? There is no difference between the guy or gal that is carrying concealed weapon standing behind you at Wal-mart then the guy or gal hiking behind you on the trail. It is not a matter of safety it is a matter of my right to bear arms. It doesn’t matter how many people got killed, committed suicide, got attacked, raped, or otherwise, it is my right and I want it back. I want to know that I will at least have a chance to draw my own weapon and shoot back if someone starts shooting at my family and I. I don’t carry for my protection I carry for theirs and yours if need be.

Gun haters are so intolerant.

I have a concealed weapons permit and carry a 9mm semiauto in my vehicle. I occassionaly have to travel over roads that pass thru a National Recreation Area on the way to courts in other counties (I am an attorney). It is not my intention to "visit" the Recreational Area--I could not care less if it was there or not. But, to obey the present law, I would need to pull over, remove the clip from by handgun, separate the gun from the clip, drive less than a mile thru the National Recreatonal Area, at which point I could legally then pull over and replace the clip in my gun. This makes no sense to me and encourages me to break the law.

Visitation to our National Park system has fallen for years, despite a growing population. After reading some of these remarks, I see why...

hmmm....how about...Article:Mountain lion victim heads to San Francisco for more su:/n/a/2007/01/28/state/n160726S88.DTL
Article:Mountain lion victim heads to San Francisco for more su:/n/a/2007/01/28/state/n160726S88.DTL
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Mountain lion victim heads to San Francisco for more surgery
By RACHEL KONRAD, Associated Press Writer

Sunday, January 28, 2007


(01-28) 19:42 PST San Francisco (AP) --

A Northern California hiker attacked by a mountain lion last week was airlifted to a San Francisco hospital Sunday, where he will likely undergo more surgery.

A spokesman for Mad River Community Hospital in Arcata said doctors wanted to send Jim Hamm to a major research hospital in San Francisco after they performed emergency surgery on his scalp and downgraded his condition from fair to serious.

Dense fog along the Northern California coast prevented the medical plane's liftoff all morning, but Hamm was delivered to California Pacific Medical Center Sunday evening after the fog broke, the hospital confirmed.

Ayotte emphasized that mov ing Hamm to a hospital with more doctors and sophisticated equipment was a "proactive, highly precautionary" measure.

The 70-year-old Fortuna man first underwent surgery Wednesday after a female mountain lion ambushed him at Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. He and his wife, Nell, were hiking in the park when the lion pounced on him, scalped him, mauled his face, ripped off part of his lips and inflicted other puncture wounds and scratches.

Hamm is taking antibiotics to prevent an infection, but his doctors remained concerned about bacteria entering his body from the cat's claws and mouth.

"Infection — that's our biggest concern," Ayotte said. "You can have exactly the same injuries in a traffic accident or in a wild animal attack, but your chances of infection with a wild animal accident are far greater."

Although the Hamms are experienced hikers, neither had seen a mountain lion before Jim Hamm was mauled while walking on a trail amid old-growth Coast Redwoods in Humboldt County. Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park abounds with Roosevelt elk, deer, coyote, foxes and bobcats, but it's rare to see resident black bears and mountain lions.

Tawny-colored mountain lions — also called cougars and pumas — roam the widest range of any New World land animal, from northern Canada to the southern Andes. Adults can weigh up to 200 pounds. The stealthy, swift creatures usually eat deer but have been known to attack pet dogs, livestock and, on rare occasions, even children and adult humans.

Upon noticing that the lion had her husband's head in its mouth, Nell Hamm, 65, grabbed a four-inch-wide log and beat the animal repeatedly — to no avail. She then removed a pen from her husband's pocket and tried to poke it into the cat's eyeball — but the pen simply bent and became useless.

She went back to using the log. The lion eventually let go and, with blood on its snout, stood staring at the woman. She screamed and waved the log until the animal walked away.

Nell Hamm refused to abandon her husband on the trail but knew he needed immediate rescue. She managed to encourage him to walk with her a quarter-mile to a trail head, where she gathered branches to protect them if more lions came around. They waited until a ranger came by and summoned help.

After the attack, game wardens closed the park, about 320 miles north of San Francisco, and released hounds to track the lion. They shot and killed a pair of lions found near the trail where the attack happened.

The carcasses of the lions — believed to be siblings — were flown to a state forensics lab, where researchers identified the female lion as the attacker. She did not have rabies.

Wild animal experts have praised Nell Hamm as a hero who saved her husband's life — both by standing up to the lion and encouraging her bloodied husband to walk a quarter-mile to safety.

The couple — who are to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary next month — had been virtually inseparable in the days following the attack. But on Saturday doctors in Arcata urged her to go home and rest. She was expected to fly to San Francisco on Sunday afternoon — not on the medical plane but on a private one closely following her husband's.

"Nell — God bless her. I don't think I've ever met a woman quite like her. You can just tell the love they've had over the past 50 years," Ayotte said. "I get goose bumps when I think of what she did."

http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2007/01/28/state/n160726S88.DTL

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Good for you Paula. No kidding! El Paso, TX is one of the safest big cities in the U.S. Why is that? We are armed. Criminals know one thing: Go to some leftist city where feel-good politicians ban law-abiding citizens from concealed carry or having a shotgun in their home -- that's the place to commit crime. Concealed carry permit holders are an extension of the government and help keep the peace, as here in El Paso. We are not more drunk, depressed, etc. than any peace officer -- what an insult. According to the hysterical anti-gun crowd, El Paso should be among the most violent cities in the nation. Why don't these people advocate enforcing the laws against casual drug use? (That is what is at the root of the mayhem south of the border and in our cities.) The world is governed by deadly force not by words from Chuck Schumer & Co. Law abiding citizens can FIGHT back and the 100 lb. woman who is trained, permitted, and carries a Glock in her purse will NOT become a victim. My women all carry and do it proudly with skill and confidence. Do the hysterical anti-gun people care about violence to the innocent? About self-protection? Their leaders in Congress and elsewhere may not conceal-carry but they have body guards who do. What hypocrites. These people and their cheerleaders in the media ignore how armed citizens repeatedly defuse, prevent, and halt crime -- which we are fortunate to do without firing a shot. And then these people talk about guns as if they knew anything about them -- not only are they hypocrites but ignoramuses. What an irrational group -- much like the teetotalers of the Prohibition period. Our nation has a history of kooks who jump on bandwagons and I hope we survive this one....