Brady Campaign Sues Interior Department over Concealed Carry in National Parks

The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence has filed a lawsuit against the Interior Department over its plans to allow national park visitors to arm themselves. While the rule change is set to take effect January 9, the lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia also seeks an injunction to prevent that from occurring.

The lawsuit (attached below) was not unexpected. Indeed, what was more of a question was which group would file it. In announcing the lawsuit, Brady Campaign President Paul Helmke says the rule change would endanger national park visitors.

"The Bush Administration's last-minute gift to the gun lobby, allowing concealed semiautomatic weapons in national parks, jeopardizes the safety of park visitors in violation of federal law," said Mr. Helmke. "We should not be making it easier for dangerous people to carry concealed firearms in our parks."

The lawsuit, which names as defendants Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne, National Park Service Director Mary Bomar, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director H. Dale Hall, claims Interior officials violated several federal laws to implement the rule before President Bush leaves office. Specifically, it charges that Interior failed to conduct any environmental review of the harm that the rule will cause, as is required by the National Environmental Policy Act.

The Brady Campaign also believes the rule violates the National Park Service Organic Act and the National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act, which created the parks and wildlife refuges as protected lands for safe enjoyment of all visitors.

Rules in place since the Reagan Administration have allowed visitors to transport guns in national parks and wildlife refuges if they are unloaded and stored or dismantled.

While proponents of the rule change have maintained park visitors' safety is at stake, statistics would seem to indicate otherwise, as crime data show the park system to be one of the safest places in the nation. In arguing to block the rule change, the Brady Campaign claims its members will be irreparably harmed because they "will no longer visit national park areas and refuges out of fear for their personal safety from those who will now be permitted to carry loaded and concealed weapons in such areas. Moreover, those who do visit such areas will have their enjoyment of those areas profoundly diminished by the increased risk to safety created by this rule change."

Additionally, the lawsuit maintains -- citing Interior Department records -- that more than 125,000 comments were received on the proposed rule change, "and that many of these comments expressed opposition to a change in the existing rules."

"In support of their final rule, defendants summarily dismissed various comments that were raised in opposition to the rule change. Among other things, those comments stated that defendants should not rely on state law to manage firearms because Congress has given the federal government complete authority over federal lands," states the lawsuit. "They also pointed out that there is no reason to allow visitors to carry a loaded and concealed firearm for personal safety since national park areas and national wildlife refuges are among the safest areas in the United States.

"These comments also emphasized that parks and refuges are designed to be havens of peace and safety, and visitors who do not like guns will not be able to fully enjoy such areas if they know that another visitor in close proximity may be carrying a loaded and concealed firearm. Finally, these comments pointed out that the rule change will inhibit the ability of park and refuge managers to halt poaching of wildlife in such areas."

Since at least 1936 it has 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 rule change pushed through by the Bush administration, concealed carry in the parks would depend on myriad state laws, some of which carry quite a few nuances.

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.

Making all this a bit more complicated are parks -- Yellowstone, Great Smoky, Death Valley, and the Blue Ridge Parkway just for example, as there are 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.

According to the Brady Campaign, numerous studies have confirmed that concealed carrying of firearms does not reduce crime and, if anything, leads to increased violent crime.

"Experience in states that have allowed concealed carrying of firearms has shown that thousands of dangerous people are able to get licenses. In Florida, for example, more than 4,200 licenses were revoked because many of these licensees committed a crime," says the group. "Since becoming the first state to allow the concealed carrying of firearms in 1987, Florida consistently has had one of the highest rates of violent crime in the nation. Florida has been ranked as the state with the highest annual violent crime rate more often than any other state in the last two decades."

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Comments

I think this says it all:

“While proponents of the rule change have maintained park visitors' safety is at stake, statistics would seem to indicate otherwise, as crime data show the park system to be one of the safest places in the nation.”

And what percentage of the population have permits to carry, very few I would imagine. As to Florida, and other warm weather states, they seem to draw more criminals than others, maybe that’s why there are more permits, the law bidding residents want them.

This lawsuit is good news for sane, law-abiding, tax-paying, nature-loving citizens who prefer to keep our national parks among the safest places on the planet. Maybe we can create a new park, preferably fenced in like one of those hunting preserves, where gun-lovers can carry their semi-automatic weapons and posture, threaten and shoot at each other all they want.

The Brady Campaign also believes the rule violates the National Park Service Organic Act and the National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act, which created the parks and wildlife refuges as protected lands for safe enjoyment of all visitors.

For the "safe enjoyment"? Talk about rewriting the Organic Act!

The basic (legally fatal) weakness of arguments by gun-opponents that we do not "need" weapons in Parks, that Parks are "safe", etc, is that the Constitution does not qualify the Second Amendment with the requirement that a threat be present before the right to be armed kicks in.

The Second Amendment makes no distinction between going into a safe or dangerous part of the City, makes no distinction between terrain infested by man-eating bears & tigers, and terrain that is totally subdued and suitable for babes on picnic-blankets. But that is what the no-guns-in-Parks fallacy asserts: "Parks are safe! You do not need a gun, ergo, you cannot have a gun!".

The Second Amendment stands on identical functional & structural footing as the First Amendment: You have the right to free speech, free press, and religion - period. Any exceptions to the rule are exactly that, and each abridgement of the right (yelling "Fire!" in the theater) has to bear the burden of establishment.

We have a few points of limitation on Religion, Speech, Press, Assembly, and Redress of Grievances, but that is the word to focus on: "Points", not limitation. Exceptions to the basic rule are primarily about finding & defining a "point", not primarily about finding & aggrandizing a "limitation".

We do not tolerate broad, sweeping, institutional modifications of the First Amendment. Anyone who seeks to establish limitations in broad strokes, to use the proviso of limitations to erode or chip away at the Right, is booed off the American stage, and quite rightly so.

The application of the Second Amendment works the same way. We aren't going to have High Schools seething with hormones & packin' heat - too crazy. We aren't going to have irate citizens stomping into the local Federal Building or Courtroom to express themselves with the family deer-rifle. Etc. There are limitations ... but there has to be a damn good & solid reason for limiting the right to be armed. That Parks are safe, ain't even close to such a reason.

The plain & forthright truth of the situation is, the bulk of opposition to guns in Parks is simply for the most part opposition to guns, period. (I know, there are some hunters who also oppose guns in Parks - read the qualifiers!) As such, they are alarmed to see any setback of their general Liberal opposition to firearms & the armed citizen. Most of the rhetoric against guns in Parks is plain ol' grasping at straws in service to an engrained bias ... against guns.

I know, and plenty of us realize, that for many years in the United States it has been the common (and liberal-media-promoted) perception that the notion of an armed citizenry is really just too old-fashioned, too inappropriate in modern society, and that the steady erosion & dissipation of the Right was a matter of 'good-riddance'.

It is plain, people, that the tide has changed ... or that the Judiciary had watched this seedy little soap-opera long enough. We in this Nation have the Right to be armed, on equal footing with the Right to free speech, etc. That's the reality & truth of it ... Parks n' all.

Frank C.,

Nice catch & point, Frank. If what we do in the Park had to be "safe", lotta folks just have to pack it up 'n go somplace else, huh?!

How big an inventory of harebrained 'recreations' can we compile? ... in a single breath, just to make it interesting.

It was just time for Brady to generate a spot of publicity - that's all. Part of their budget-deployment. This "lawsuit" is mostly puffery & daytime Hollywood TV.

I'm torn. I hate to see the serenity of our national parks disturbed by violence but the fact is people who should not bring weapons into those parks or anywhere else will continue to do so. As the victim of an extremely violent home burglary while my husband was having heart surgery, I don't really feel safe anywhere anymore. I want the right to protect myself.

Hopefully this lawsuit means a return to sanity. The proof is in the pudding, so to speak, in that guns have not been allowed at least since 1936 and parks have consistently had extremely low violent crime rates. Regarding protecting oneself and family from attacking animals, you have a far greater chance of being struck by lightening or being injured in a car accident while visiting the park. A conceled weapon is unlikely to be of much use in a sudden and unexpected bear mauling in any case. The second amendment arguement doesn't fly either, unless one wishes to argue that guns should be allowed in Federal buildings (BTW, be sure to leave that conceled weapon in the car or RV when you go into the Visitor Center), airports and schools. Only the most radical gun proponents would want that, I think.
Good for the Brady Campaign. Hopefully they only need an injuction until January 20. Although the new Interior guy, Salazar, feels that guns should be allowed in Parks (I've read), hopefully he would find himself overruled on this one. We have 72 years worth of evidence proving that they are not needed.

Frank N,

If guns aren't needed in parks, then why do law enforcement rangers carry guns?

Frank N. said:

"We have 72 years worth of evidence proving that they are not needed."

Washington D.C. had several decades of 'getting away with' essentially the same thing the Parks scammed on. D.C. vs Heller shows pretty clear where this is going. It's doubtful in my mind that the Brady action was ever intended to actually achieve anything (it sounds more like a publicity stunt), but if it does gain traction up through the Courts, then the likely outcome is that in place of a Dept. of Interior ruling allowing concealed carry, there will instead be a new pro-Second Amendment Supreme Court ruling alongside D.C. vs Heller on the shelf.

I'm going to say something here that ought to be a higher-profile part of the debate, and does play somewhat into Frank N.'s comment: There is a far-bigger gun-problem in the cities, than there is in the countryside ... and somewhat similarly, there is also less of a gun-problem in the Parks (and non-Park wilderness settings), than there is in the countryside.

These different levels of 'bad-behavior' between city, country, and deep-boondocks, I will submit reflect the actual cultural values, and a related consideration I'll call 'cultural value expectations' that exist between these 3 sub-sections of society.

For people to display or embrace gun 'crap' that is popular in the cities, will tend to earn them deep approbation in most rural districts. Instead of gaining cultural standing by farting around with guns, as people do in urban settings, gun show-offs take a heavy hit in their social ranking by 'pulling that kind of crap' among rural peers.

And, it's true; Frank N. is right: hogwash gun-behavior is even scarcer, way off up in the mountains & days back into the brush. (I'll avoid the muddy cases of trailhead parking lots and blow-out party campgrounds etc ... which I think actually reinforce the basic point I'm making.)

There is a big role in these 3 cases for not only what people do in the respective settings, but what they came here and are expected to do. For people who are looking to show off with a gun, the Parks are inadequate because there simply is neither the 'audience', nor - even more important - the fellow game-players with whom to interact.

Or look at it another way: D.C. had the most draconian gun-ban in the nation ... and they had wall-to-wall gun-gaming. Most rural regions have the most wide-open gun-rules, and use, yet they have a decent safety record, and very little of the show-off nonsense and outright blood-sports that runs up the statistics in cities.

And ya know what? Gun-gamers will stay where they have their fun - on the streets & sidewalks (bars n' alleys, crack-houses n' gangs, etc) - and very little will change in the Parks.

Park rangers are law enforcement professionals who, as a part of their job, are required to put themselves into possibly confrontational situations. Hopefully, as a park visitor, you are not doing that.
Please note that the Supreme Court in their decision specifically stated that nothing in that decision should be construed to prevent reasonable restrictions on guns (presumably airports, federal buildings etc.......why not federal land/parks?) Further, nothing in the current (previous?) law prohibited the possession of a firearm in a National Park, only the possession, and ready availability, of a LOADED firearm. Also there is no way of knowing whether the make up of the Court will be the same if and when such a case would come up.
As I said above, its not like the whole National Park thing is a new concept. We have 72 years of gun free experience that has worked. Some time ago Kurt published violent crime statistics for the National Parks. I suggest you look them up. Pretty impressive. You are far safer in a National Park without a gun than you are just about anywhere else with one (or a dozen)!
I do agree that "gun gamers" will stay where they have their fun-alleys/streets/cities etc. That just proves my point. We don't all need to be packing to protect ourselves from a nonexistent threat.
I disagree that "little will change" if guns are allowed. Perhaps on the surface, but underneath rangers jobs will become just a little more complicated: checking permits, knowing state laws, carrying a gps and trying to determine which state they are in (some parks), trying to enforce building restrictions and knowing that ANYONE they confront may well be packing heat. The atmosphere for visitors will change as they feel a little less of that sense that Parks are a special place; as they look at one another, and are looked upon by rangers, with just a little more aprehension. Visitors may well find that rangers are fingering their holsters, or perhaps even drawing their weapons a bit more frequently. The changes may be subtle, but they will be there.

You should notice that the Chief factotum of the Brady Bunch, Paul Helmke, specifically says "allowing concealed semiautomatic weapons in national parks". There is absolutely nothing in the regulation change that says anything about "semiautomatic" but it's a key buzz word around the anti-gun set designed to strike fear in the general populace. All the statistics show that concealed carry permit holders (the only ones allowed to carry under the new rule" have been involved in virtually zero criminal activity. Also, look at the statistics for violent crimes in National Parks and Monuments which has been constantly escalating and you'll see that they aren't nearly the safe haven that the anti-gunners make them out to be.

As I have posted before on this topic, guns are not the one's to blame for crimes. It is the illegal type people that will carry and use them that makes crimes with guns a problem. I have been in law enforcement and do not have a problem with people carrying a firearm to protect themselves. I understand...trust me I do that it will make the Rangers jobs a little more difficult, but it is a law abiding citizens right to carry a firearm for protection. I am currently in Great Smoky Mountains NP and have been hiking all over the park, haven't needed a firearm yet, but would feel alot more safe and secure if I had one with me. A law abiding citizen will not be one of the people you have to worry about carrying, hence the fact they are the one's who actually have permits and usually years of training in the use of firearms. As with alot of the NP's, there are alot of illegal activities within the park lands across the country, including drugs, alcohol...and etc. I know here there are several thousand acres that people use to grow marijuana and area's that people use to make moonshine in homemade stills. So if you think the NP's are free from illegal types of people than you need to think again. As for me, if I run into some of these people, I want to be able to protect myself at least somewhat. I know they will do the same to protect the locations of their illegal activities.

I applaud the Brady Campaign for leading the opposition to another unnecessary ruling that was so obviously created to politically placate the gun owners lobby.
Jim Brady, himself a victim of gun violence, did not give in to fear as a result of the assault he suffered. He did not join the Libertarian-ruled gun-owners lobby (a morally and politically courageous choice) to create for himself a false sense of safety in what had become for him a dangerous world. He and his organization seek and support SENSIBLE gun laws and legislation.

The logistics of allowing legal carry of a loaded firearm in a National Park Service site (with it's many public access Federal buildings, and individual State carry laws to be considered) will add too much to the already over-worked protection Rangers plateful of responsibilities. And THAT reality will undermine the safety of our parks. It just doesn't make sense to create multiple additional responsibilities for these fine Rangers that are already spread too thin.
The Bush Administration knew this, or at least Kempthorne and Bomar did, that's why they waited until the final hour to push this ruling through.

It just amazes me that the members of the gun owners lobby, usually a very independent and politically astute community, cannot see this new ruling for what it is. The only reason Kempthorne, President Bush, et al. created this ruling was to try and build a little political capitol for the Republican Party while it still could. That's what I call a political agenda.
The NRA may have taken on the issue of legal loaded gun carry in the National Parks back in 2003, but the current administration didn't touch it until the last few weeks of their time in power. Doesn't that tell us something? Or is the gun owner lobby ignoring this slight just because we think we're finally getting our way?
Face the reality: even President Bush and his political cronies, Libertarians in Republican Clothing each and every one of them, wouldn't support the "I'll take my loaded gun anywhere I damn well please" trend until they could do so in hit-and-run fashion. Because they realized that in a larger socio-political sense, the legal right to take a loaded legal weapon anywhere and everywhere we please just doesn't make logical sense for our parks , our communities, or our nation.

It also amazes me how so many comments we read concerning this issue (on this blog and elsewhere) have an unspoken undercurrent of racism. And so far I appear to be the only reader of this blog to mention it.
Let's all be very careful when we compare Big City gun owners to Country gun owners, because this comparison carries with it multiple levels of sociological factors (such as economic stratification, civil equality and justice, and political manipulation/exploitation of communities) that must all be addressed and throughly discussed.
For instance, how do so many guns get into the hands of "gun-gamers" in the Big City? Where does that supply chain start? What messages are Big City residents getting from the media that tell them guns are the only way to exercise power in their lives? Why do the Big City residents feel so powerless in our society? What economic factors are at play? Why do those economic factors exist?
It's just too easy to rely on simplistic comparisons of City vs. Country (another way of saying Liberal vs. Conservative) when discussing the issue of lawful gun carry, and the resulting conclusions of such a simplistic comparison are potentially very very racist.

Ultimately I guess I'm just old-fashioned. Adjusting to change can be good when warranted for the betterment of the whole.... but I say if it ain't broke, don't fix it.
The National Parks have managed to survive without allowing legal carry of loaded firearms for DECADES. And the millions of visitors that pass through their gates every year continue to enjoy their visits despite the absence of a legal rationalization for having a loaded gun tucked into their belts while they look at the birds and the bees.
Why change that? Just so the Republican Party can politically placate a relatively small portion of the population that feels their "rights" are being infringed upon?
There are no violations of societal civil rights involved in this specific issue. This ruling doesn't make sense for society as a whole, and and for the National Park Service in particular. To support a political agenda of so few at the expense of violating the democratic principles upon which our country was built just doesn't make sense.

How sad and cynical to feel that the only way one can be "safe" in the world is to carry the ability to harm or kill another person.

"Also, look at the statistics for violent crimes in National Parks and Monuments which has been constantly escalating and you'll see that they aren't nearly the safe haven that the anti-gunners make them out to be.".....Ralph F.
Kurt, is it possible for you to re-post those statistics, or at least point to them with a link to your previous post?
Warren, you took the words right out of my keyboard with your last post. No matter which side of this issue you may find yourself, it is indeed a sad statement about our society that ANYONE (any individual) cannot feel safe in a National Park surrounded by families on vacation, children and nature's wonders, without the security of a loaded weapon pressing against their side.
I truly believe that where you stand on this issue has a lot to do with how you were brought up, and all the arguing in the world is unlikly to change very many minds. I have mentioned before that I was brought up in the inner city. Friends of ours who owned a neighborhood market were killed with guns. They had guns of their own, and police determined that it was attempting to pull those guns that resulted in the shootout that resulted in their deaths. Drug deals, prostitiution, gang wars.....you name it, occurred outside my bedroom window at night as I was growing up. Still, my dad did not believe in guns and would not have one in his house. He did believe in an ounce of prevention: strong doors and locks, and an alarm system that he put together himself that could be heard six blocks away. Except when testing, it never went off and we were never the victums of a serious crime. Many of our neighbors who had guns were. In fact I think that's why. A gun was far more valuable to steal than an old TV set.
Now, someone raised in a rural setting where guns were an honored family tradition, tools used to keep coyotes away from the hen house, put meat on the table and maybe target shoot with dad on a long summer evening; someone who had never been sent to buy a gallon of milk only to be the first to find close family friends shot full of holes, lying in an ocean of their own blood, are going to have a vastly different attitude toward them than I, and I understand that.
It's not that I think that National Parks are suddenly going to turn into shooting galleries. Indeed, if you have a permit you are likely to be responsible (though I DO think that poaching is likely to increase somewhat). Rather it is that overwhelming sense of sadness that Warren speaks of. The feeling that we would be losing something very dear to a lot of people. That sense of innocence, of special-ness, of isolation, real or imagined, from the rest of the world, that parks provide.
Warren says, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." I say, If it ain't broke, don't break it!

Frank N. started off with:

"the Supreme Court in their decision specifically stated that nothing in that decision should be construed to prevent reasonable restrictions on guns (presumably airports, federal buildings etc.......why not federal land/parks?)"
No "presumably" about it - the Court did explicitly acknowledge that no Right is without limitations, including the Second Amendment. However, the terminology they used in discussing limitations ran to words like "longstanding" and "traditional" situations, naming examples like the mentally ill, felons, schools and federal buildings. In their treatment of limitations on guns, the Court made quite clear that this would not be a 'loophole' by which the gun-opposition is going to create or elaborate barriers to the armed citizen.

Frank N. then stuck his foot in a gopher hole:

"Further, nothing in the current (previous?) [Parks firearm] law prohibited the possession of a firearm in a National Park, only the possession, and ready availability, of a LOADED firearm."
I'm surprised to see you make this error, Frank. This is exactly the 'clever tactic' that got Washington D.C.'s law hung out to dry. "No-no, no-no! We're not saying you can't have guns - just that they must be disabled & make inaccessible!" Get a grip, Frank: The Second Amendment is not about allowing people to have unloaded weapons stashed away where they can't readily get to them. This is precisely the not-clever trickery that D.C. sabotaged itself with. An argument like this is known as a "sophistry".

Frank N. correctly noted:

"Also there is no way of knowing whether the make up of the Court will be the same if and when such a case would come up."
True. First, D.C. vs Heller was in fact a close call, a split Court ruling. Second, we have a new, historic President promising "Change".

However, hopes that Obama will act on behalf of the more-Liberal point of view really should be fading by now. There were always clear-enough signs that he intended to set aside even his own left-leanings, to implement his "Change" by leading the country as a whole, and demure from championing one partisan platform - even that to which he himself is by nature inclined. Now that we have watched him fill most of his Cabinet, and take other measures that have often dismayed the Left Wing, appealing to the hope that the new President will exert himself to 'tip' the Court seems decidedly unjustified.

Frank N. repeats:

"As I said above, its not like the whole National Park thing is a new concept. We have 72 years of gun free experience that has worked."

The longevity of an inappropriate regulation does not 'make it ok'. I previously responded to this argument with the mild example of Washington D.C., which also 'got away' with depriving the citizen of effective armament. Since my mild rebuttal did not show you the folly of this argument, I will use a more-impressive example.

In formal legal & ethical terms, depriving a group of citizens of the clearly-stated Constitutional Rights by making 'clever' regulations which have the (intended) results of making the Right unavailable to the group, was very much in reality the way that "Jim Crow" operated.

"Jim Crow" was a clever set of regulations & laws put in place in some parts of the United States, to keep Negroes in a subordinate social position. Blacks plainly had certain rights under the Constitution, etceteras, but by 'inventing' tricky laws to prevent them from exercising their Rights, some parts of the Country held Negroes subservient in society, for nearly 100 years after they had become legally equal to Whites.

Because the Nation launched a major project to dismantle the Jim Crow barriers, and the Court was a chief player in this project, the legal & ethical similarities between Jim Crow and "obstructive" laws such as those of Washington D.C. and those of the Parks that were put in place in such a manner as to forestall people having & exercising a Right guaranteed them quite plainly & prominently in the Constitution, will not be missed.

The subversive gun-regulations of the Park System of the last 72 years are neither as egregious nor as harmful overall to the nation as was the Jim Crow system. However, they are indeed "subversive" of the Constitution, in the same manner as were the Jim Crow laws.

Finally, Frank N. makes his case that Parks law-enforcement will have a more-difficult time, if citizens are allowed to have operational guns. Being a cop is one of the tougher jobs in society ... but other jobs are even more dangerous, causing more injuries and more fatalities, and much larger numbers of ordinary citizens serve as workers in these roles. It's tough being a commercial fisherman; it's tough doing your job for the Army in Iraq; it's tough doing your job in the coal mines of Virginia, or with the logging industry in Oregon - and it's dangerous work in those jobs, more dangerous than Park law enforcement. Overall, law enforcement is the 10th most dangerous job, put a good chunk of America more in the line of deadly fire than cops.

Another option that might make better sense that trying to maintain a fragmented independent Park enforcement, is to hand over enforcement-duties in some Park units to the cities, counties & States in which they are embedded. These jurisdictions already have fully-developed police-systems, and are often, probably usually, better-prepared to do what needs done on Park turf, than the Park itself.

The way the new concealed carry Parks gun regulation was worded to put the basis of firearms-authorization with the local jurisdiction (the State & County) in which the Park is located, is suggestive that we might be headed in this direction. In many Park-situations, I think this would be an overall enforcement-improvement.

Frank N, this is probably the story you're recalling considering crime stats for the national parks.

Warren Z. said:

"I applaud the Brady Campaign for leading the opposition to [the new Parks' firearm regulation]."

I am aware that there are various 'forces' & 'camps' in the gun-opposition line-up, but I have not seen anything that communicated to me that the Brady entity is recognized by other gun-control groups as their leader, or that Brady acts as de facto leader of the field. Is your characterization of Brady as the leader actually meant to be descriptive? If so, can you provide a reference that independently makes this clear?

Warren Z. thinks the new Parks' gun-regulation was:

"... obviously created to politically placate the gun owners lobby."

Hmm. There is a powerful gun-lobby, of course. Has been, for many decades. The lobby per se is able to do some things, but like other comparable lobbies, they spend much of their time & effort generally greasing the wheels of politics. Most fellow gun-owners that I know, however, view the NRA etc as basically a more politically-agreeable Greenpeace or Sierra Club, in that we take it for granted that the real object of NRA's passion (and all other such lobbies), is themselves.

Owning a gun does not make me or most others so brain-dead as to imagine that, like the Brady group, their main promotional objective isn't themselves. It is. They're in politics, for the politics. They are their own stock in trade.

I think you'd do better, digging a little deeper for a more-realistic explanation of how the new Parks' gun-regulation came to be.

More realistically, a very large constituency of voting Americans support the Second Amendment, and it is their clout at the ballot box that our Legislators are primarily responding to (as they should) rather than any "lobby".

Warren Z. plays fast with the facts:

"The NRA may have taken on the issue of legal loaded gun carry in the National Parks back in 2003, but the current administration didn't touch it until the last few weeks of their time in power."

Those who have been watching the process know that it is of several years duration, and describing it as happening in "the last few weeks" of Bush's tenure is hyper-rhetorical, at best.

Warren Z. makes a major sub-plot of painting the problem as "Libertarians". Sir, I've been following the Libertarian platform since JFK was running circles around it ... and neither I nor anyone else has ever seen them make a going concern of it. The Libertarians are an ineffective political delusion, and whatever is haywire with the country, they certainly never had the wherewithal to force it upon us. Venting at Libertarians is tilting at windmills. (Besides, what happened to the Neocons?)

Warren Z. tempts me:

"The National Parks have managed to survive without allowing legal carry of loaded firearms for DECADES."

And now, they can survive & thrive with firearms, in overdue lawful compliance with the Constitution, for CENTURIES.

What everyone seems to be missing is the fact that the rule is aligning with State law. Why should Washington DC be deciding on my ability to Carry in Yellowstone. Shouldn't it be the state, for which it is located, be making the rules. If you are legally able to carry in your state, a National Park should not be exempt. And we are not talking about just "ANYONE" carrying a gun on their person, but about those who have been trained to handle a firearm, had detailed State and Federal background investigations, and have to re-apply and certify at regular intervals. In addition, we are required to be up on all current gun laws, for any and all States we carry in. We go to the range regularly, and in most cases practice more than most law enforcement. The Criminals don't care where you are, or abide by the laws or rules governing anything. Personally, I think it is about time we are aloud to protect ourselves and our families. It is not about hunting, it is strictly about self-preservation. When the talk about 125000 comments to the negative, I would figure there were many times more positive (just from the couple of forums I personally belong to). I hope the court sees through this ruse and strikes it down post haste.

Ted:

The Libertarians are an ineffective political delusion

Are you speaking of the political party or the small-l libertarian philosophy of government? If you're talking about the third party, then I would agree that big-L Libertarians are ineffective at making inroads in America's corrupt, one-party system. (Dispute my use of "corrupt", but how else would you characterize Democratic and Republican collusion to keep other parties' candidates out of the presidential debates?) If you're calling the libertarian political philosophy to be "delusional", please clarify. Are you calling Thomas Jefferson, the rule of law, sound money, and Constitutional government "delusional"? If so, what does that even mean?

they certainly never had the wherewithal to force it upon us

Of course. Because libertarians don't believe in initiating force against others, nor does the philosophy accept using the State to use force against others. Democrats and Republicans, however, seem to have no qualms using force and coercion to reach their desired goals.

Here's an unfolding case in point, and it even involves the NPS.

Frank N:

Park rangers are law enforcement professionals who, as a part of their job, are required to put themselves into possibly confrontational situations. Hopefully, as a park visitor, you are not doing that.

And hopefully, as a park visitor, others--such as poachers, intoxicated campers, and thieves--won't put me in confrontational situations. As long as the possibility for confrontation exists, no matter how unlikely, and as long as government officials carry weapons, law-abiding citizens should be able to exercise their constitutional rights to self-defense in vast open land where the nearest help can be hours away.

Ted Clayton:

When referring to the Brady Campaign as "leading the opposition" I meant to say I applaud the Brady Campaign for being the first entity to take a legal stand against the new ruling, I in no way meant to infer that Brady was the leader of any organized coalition opposing this ruling. (I apologize if the Brady Campaign is in fact not the first entity to do so.)
However, I find it poetically fitting that a his organization sits on the side of the fence opposed to the ruling.

I too support the Constitution, Ted, including the Second Amendment, as it was written. But I do not support politically manipulative legislation and idiosyncratic interpretation of the Constitution to suit the needs of a few while ignoring the consequences to the larger society we live in.

As for the rest of your comments on my opinion as written, your own constructive logic says more about your ideas than I could ever improve on.

While picking apart one of Frank N's comments did you really compare gun owners to the victims of Jim Crow laws?? Do you really think not being able to carry a loaded gun wherever you please puts you in the same civil arena as an entire race of people that are discriminated against because of the color of their skin? Gun owners are "separate but equal" because the NPS does not interpret the Constitution as narrowly and idiosyncratically as you do? How large a coalition could you build using that argument? How many elected officials will bring that particular argument to the fore in defense of legal carry in our parks? I look forward to watching your progress.

Frank C. asks:

Are you speaking of the political party or the small-l libertarian philosophy of government?"
If one notes that the Democrats or the Republicans or the Greens or the Constitutionalists are pleased or disappointed with this or that, do we parse the spectrum of private political orientation to determine what she is talking about? No. Libertarians - like Greens and Constitutionals - are a bust. No nuance necessary. Has nothing to do with the admittedly complex & certainly fascinating rainbow of actual citizen thought. We're talking Parties.

By reading my comment, it is seen that all four of my uses of the work "libertarian" in my response to Warren Z. are indeed plainly capitalized ... so it would seem the usage was explicit aimed at - literally - Big-L Libertarians.

Frank, I endorse & recommend your use of the phrase, "corrupt, one-party system". I'm not going to be drawn into a hair-splitting exercise over what the word corrupt means ... far as I'm concerned the word does not belong to somebody with a tenured chair at the University, nor some lawyer, nor some company selling dictionaries. "Their butts are sucking wind" does fine with me, if "corrupt" is too tricky to handle.

I do, however, call it "The Two-Party System", a different term meaning the same as your usage. ;-)

I call the Libertarians "delusional", because they think that because they have a quality argument and more-consistent platform, that should qualify them for an important role. Problem is, they can't get the votes to ... be important. They think they are, but the voting record shows they are not important. That's close enough to delusional to fit as a one-word summary.

George W. Bush "forced" his views on us, by getting elected President. Jerry 'Moonbeam' Brown is forcing his views on California, by getting elected Attorney General. If the Libertarians ever escape from the Wonderland of their delusion, they will force their interpretation of issues upon us, by getting themselves elected to lead. So far, 'tain't happening.

"the terminology they used in discussing limitations ran to words like "longstanding" and "traditional" situations, naming examples like the mentally ill, felons, schools and federal buildings....."
72 years is pretty "longstanding and traditional" I'd say.
"the Court did explicitly acknowledge that no Right is without limitations....." Exactly! If you don't want to shut off your cell phone, don't go into the theater.
"Overall, law enforcement is the 10th most dangerous job...." Is that a valid reason to make it more dangerous?
"Why should Washington DC be deciding on my ability to Carry in Yellowstone?" Because Yellowstone is federal land, Jason. It is NOT state land. You are not in Wyoming or Montana, you are in Yellowstone NATIONAL Park.
"And we are not talking about just "ANYONE" carrying a gun on their person, but about those who have been trained to handle a firearm, had detailed State and Federal background investigations....."
Depending, of course, on what state they obtained their permit. I quote from Kurt above, ""Experience in states that have allowed concealed carrying of firearms has shown that thousands of dangerous people are able to get licenses. In Florida, for example, more than 4,200 licenses were revoked because many of these licensees committed a crime.....""
" ...it is strictly about self-preservation...." Guess it must come as quite a surprise to millions upon millions of visitors to national parks who somehow manage to get out alive year after year without pack'n heat! This has nothing to do with "self preservation" or the second amendment, just as keeping bison out of Montana has nothing to do with brucellosis. It is about political power, plain and simple.
"...And hopefully, as a park visitor, others--such as poachers, intoxicated campers, and thieves--won't put me in confrontational situations....." I didn't just fall off the turnip truck, Frank, I've been around a good long time. I learned a long time ago that most "confrontational situations" can be avoided. I don't argue over campsites, parking places etc. You want it, its yours. If there is a problem, I get into my car and drive to the nearest ranger station. That's what they get paid for. On those rare occassions when a confrontation was unavoidable (never once in a National Park, BTW, despite spending hundreds upon hundreds of days camping, hiking and backpacking in them), I was actually glad that I did not have a gun which could have escalated the situation. Finally, in that hypothetical situation where I might be accousted in the back country: The trails that I take are not the busy, popular ones. I often go days without seeing another human being, much less being confronted by one; but heck, it could happen! I believe that in a hypothetical worst case scenario (which I don't spend my life dwelling on as apparently some people do) I would blast the culprit with my bear spray; which I would probably have a better chance of shooting from the hip than trying to get at a conceled weapon buried under a couple of layers of clothes (or in my pack). In a situation involving drug growers (which so many people seem to obsess about), I figure they are going to make themselves scarce because the last thing they want is hundreds of searchers combing the woods looking for a missing hiker.
Check the statistics that Kurt linked to. No reasonable person can make the arguement for the NEED to carry a loaded gun in a National Park. The only arguement is to prove that you can. Political power.

Oh, one last thing........Jim Crow? Really?

Warren Z.,

Ah, thanks for the clarification of the Brady group's role in the gun-control community. I was unaware of them being the leader, but sometimes such things are the case even though not evident (sometimes, by design).

It is of course understandable that the personal tragedy of Mr. Brady became the impetus for a new gun-control organization (he was shot in the brain during the assassination attempt upon President Reagan; survived, but with substantial neurological damages). While again acknowledging that I may not have all the facts, I think that although the group is named for the man, it appears to be quite independent of him. Mr. Brady may have a formal seat or honorific role with the Brady operation ... but I saw him on TV a few years ago, and he was clearly 'in over his head', just trying to make a largely passive appearance in front of the camera.

Warren Z. objects:

"... I do not support politically manipulative legislation and idiosyncratic interpretation of the Constitution to suit the needs of a few while ignoring the consequences to the larger society we live in.
In "D.C. vs Heller", the Supreme Court sweeps aside the characterization that you assert here, on the record. SCOTUS slices through the "manipulation" and "interpretation" issues, as a primary task they set themselves to. Much of the historic 65 page ruling they brought down, concerns itself with the question of what is extraneous & irrelevant to the nature of the Second Amendment, and just what item #2 of the Bill of Rights really does provide to citizens.

Yes, there are costs tied to having an armed citizenry, as provided by the Second Amendment, and they should not be downplayed. However, the governance of disarmed populations is not without costs itself, some of them much worse than what we bear.

I did indeed compare the legal fallacy of the Parks' former gun-law, to the legal fallacy of the Jim Crow laws. No, I did not make the mistake of comparing the grievance of deprived gun-owners with the grievance of African Americans. Furthermore, I took pains to include language to forestall such a misinterpretation of my wording. Any who actually read my previous comment will see that I did not suggest what you try to credit to me. Perhaps you should read it again, Warren.

Yes indeed, the former gun-laws of both Washington D.C. and the Parks System are but sophistries not-so-cunningly designed to place spurious barriers between citizens and their fundamental Constitutional Right to arms. The use of this type of sophistry is the same legal fallacy by which Jim Crow laws kept the Black Man from his Rights.

Or ... those who take refuge out on a legal limb, should not be surprised when it ultimately fails to support them.

The Brady Bunch..an appropiate name. mindless sitcom mentality.

"The Bush Administration's last-minute gift to the gun lobby, allowing concealed semiautomatic weapons in national parks, jeopardizes the safety of park visitors in violation of federal law," said Mr. Helmke. "We should not be making it easier for dangerous people to carry concealed firearms in our parks."

This comment shows a lack of understanding of concealed carry. Concealed carry permit holders have been through a thorough background check and completed classes in gun safety and handling. These are the good guys. The real "dangerous people" don't care about the laws and certainly would not be in favor of any law abiding citizens having a legal right to carry a gun. That could be dangerous for them in carrying out whatever evil intent they may have. The bottom line is this.... dangerous people will and always have had guns at their disposal. They just don't want anyone else to have them. In other words, allowing concealed carry permit holders to carry guns in National Parks makes them safer for everyone except the criminals.

John

Myself and most of my family do not go to your parks because not everyone is a law biding citizen because I am not allowed to carry concealed, you will find most criminals do not obey the law and are usually carrying a weapon you will find most convected felons have or do carry various weapons. Carrying concealed legally gives me or my family a 50-50 chance instead of a 100-0 chance in a bad situation.

Concealed carry permit holders have been through a thorough background check and completed classes in gun safety and handling.

If only that were true in all states, sadly it is not. There are states that do not require a permit at all, and no vetting nor training is either required nor expected before the legal carry of a weapon. Just sayin'...

"The Bush Administration's last-minute gift to the gun lobby, allowing concealed semiautomatic weapons in national parks, jeopardizes the safety of park visitors in violation of federal law," said Mr. Helmke. "We should not be making it easier for dangerous people to carry concealed firearms in our parks."

Seeing as people who don't have clean records can't get a concealed carry permit or legally own a firearm and that people who don't have a clean record and having a history of disregard for the law more than likely will disregard a ban on concealed carry as well who would a law banning concealed carry anywere make things safer for other than the guy who disregards the law? Who are these gun lovers? Most of these people visiting these parks are nature lovers and people who love their families likely visiting the parks with their families. I just don't understand why everyone wants to take away a non-felon's else's legal right? I mean, if you commit even so much as a misdemeanor of domestic violence you cannot lawfully own a firearm so that part is already taken care of. What in the world have I ever done to you concerning a firearm? The legal right is there? Why do you want to take it away? If someone postures, threatens, and shoots without being confronted with the danger of life or limb they lose their gun rights. Easy as that, now what do we do about the people who don't care about the law? That's a tough one. Can we do like the Brady Campaign does and file a lawsuit? If I or a family member become a victim of violence because the law was followed on our side of things and were left without the means to protection to include local law enforcement should we just sue both the state, police, and in some cases such as this the federal government?

The law abiding citizens that have concealed carry permits have gone through a rigirous process to obtain that permit and carry a gun to protect themselves and others from the criminal who will carry a concealed gun or knife whether or not it is legal. The people who carry guns legally don't carry them to "posture, threaten and shoot at each" that is just ignorance. We also are "sane, law-abiding, tax-paying, nature-loving citizens who also prefer to keep our national parks among the safest places on the planet" just like those who choose not to carry a gun.

I think a more realistic way of saying it is:

How sad that criminals exist. But they do exist. Thank Goodness that reasonable, intellegent, honest, law-abiding citizens have their God-given right to self protection guaranteed by the 2nd Amendment of the U.S. Constitutions Bill of Rights. But how sad that so many fools would gladly give up not only their individual rights to self protection, but also plot to take these rights away from the sensible people as well.

We were planning a trip to Big Bend National park in Texas, which borders Mexico. One of the things it says right on the NATIONAL PARK website:

"Visitors should be aware that drug smuggling routes pass through the park. If you see any activity which looks illegal, suspicious, or out of place, please do not intervene. Note your location. Call 911 or report it to a ranger as quickly as possible." -- http://www.nps.gov/bibe/planyourvisit/border_travel.htm

I'm excited about the Brady Campaign because they will make it illegal for drug smugglers to carry guns through the national park, which means everyone in Big Bend should be safe. I guess there's going to be some bins or something at the border where the smugglers can deposit their guns. And after they make gun laws maybe the Brady Campaign could focus on some illegal drug laws too, maybe setup some more bins at the border for the runners to drop off their pot and cocaine.

But until then, I'm headed out to Big Bend to enjoy nature and I'll be carrying a concealed handgun with me in case one of the "safest places in the nation" ends up being not so safe. And the best part is, you'll never know, because it's concealed :)

Dave -

Despite your stated intentions, I still hope you'll follow the park's excellent advice:

If you see any activity which looks illegal, suspicious, or out of place, please do not intervene.

Therein lies one of the possible pitfalls for people carrying concealed weapons. I believe you'll be hard-pressed to find many cases of visitors actually observing some of that drug smuggling activity - and cases of visitors being threatened by such activity at Big Bend are even rarer (if they exist at all.) However, a guaranteed way to make any such encounter worse is for an untrained citizen to pull out his concealed handgun.

I understand your point is to be able to use your concealed weapon in self-defense, but drug runners in remote locations aren't looking for a fight, and the last thing they want to do is attract attention to themselves by accosting park visitors. Follow the park's advice, stay out of the middle of such situations, and pass the information along as soon as possible.

Another bumbling butt-headed mistake by a ANTI-Self defense group. The Brady Campaign against gun violence is a joke. They might as well change their name to The Brady Campaign for Criminal Protection. Anyone who's going to do anything 'Bad' with a gun isn't going 2 give a crap about the laws. I would not visit areas where wild animals live with out a trusty sidearm to defend myself, not to mention there are so few law enforcement officers in our nations parks that calling 911 would only give then a heads up as to where to find your body if you were being attacked. Some people need to stop living in lala land and realize that the person who is most responsible for their-own safety is themselves and that every citizen who can be legally armed should be at all times in order to take back this country from criminals who prey on the defenseless (those who don't carry a gun). This suit is a waste of money and time.

Editor's note: This comment was edited to conform with the Traveler's code of conduct.

Gee, 2nd amendment, I can be legally armed but choose not to. Does that make me unpatriotic or soft on crime? I notice that anon above says that the second amendment is somehow connected to God so I must be unreligious, also. And, to top it all, I am defenseless. Think I will go eat a worm.

Rick Smith

The Brady Bunch said:
"...crime data show the park system to be one of the safest places in the nation. "

They are correct, less crime occurs in national parks on average than in the rest of the nation, but it does not mean NO crime exists. In fact, from 2002 to 2006, 1916 violent crimes occurred in national parks, including murder, rape, kidnapping and robbery. During the same period, there were an additional 18,105 so called non-violent crimes committed on park property including burglary, theft of motor vehicles and arson. It is should be safe to assume that had some of these non-violent crimes been interrupted while occurring they would have most certainly turned into violent crimes as the perpetrators tried to complete the crime or at least escape. So, "YES" Mr. Helmke and Mrs. Brady, crime is lower in our national parks on average, but if you were one of the 240 women raped between 2002 and 2006 I sincerely doubt it would help you to know it happened in one of the safest places in the nation. These victims were victims because they were denied the means to protect themselves. Using Brady Campaign logic we should disarm our soldiers in Afghanistan because statically it is a safer war zone than any other to date. It is not that soldier do not die there, but fewer die there than die in Iraq or have died daily in other war zones. According to the DOD, as of May 2009 there has only been 686 U.S. soldiers killed in the entire 8 years occupation of Afghanistan compared to the 4300 in Iraq. Therefore, by applying Brady logic, it must be logical that these soldiers pose a greater threat by being armed than they face from the Taliban and should therefore be disarmed. I mean, just think about it, there were almost 17,000 murders in the U.S. last year alone and only 686 in the entire 8 years in Afghanistan, so if the Brady bunch does not consider us justified in protecting ourselves here in the U.S. then they certainly must not support it in Afghanistan. Really Mr. Helmke, how high must crime become in an area before ones earns the right to defend self and family?

The Brady Bunch said:
"its members will be irreparably harmed because they will no longer visit national park areas and refuges out of fear for their personal safety from those who will now be permitted to carry loaded and concealed weapons in such areas. Moreover, those who do visit such areas will have their enjoyment of those areas profoundly diminished by the increased risk to safety created by this rule change."

The same has been true for thousands of Americans for years, that being those unwilling to disarm and travel into the parks defensive less or those who entered the parks defenseless and spent much of their time worrying about becoming a victim of the current crime occurring there. Unlike the irrational Brady members who falsely believe that they are safe merely because a law exists that prevents someone from carrying a gun, the rest of the nation knows that laws only stop honest people who are not a threat in the first place and give criminals a free crime zone to operate.

The Brady Bunch said:
"numerous studies have confirmed that concealed carrying of firearms does not reduce crime and, if anything, leads to increased violent crime."

To date the Brady Campaign has never produced a single validated study that supports these claims. They rely mostly on reports authored by other anti-gun groups in order to distance themselves from the false reports when they are proven to be fabricated. They love to quote groups with long reputations of fabricating stories and statistics then claim no association when the report is proven bogus. The few studies they have undertaken were so skewed in application that they could in no way be considered an accurate representation of fact. In contrast, both national and state statistics show that violent crime has not risen and has in most cases decreased in areas where concealed or open carry was permitted. It is no coincidence that mass shootings occur in gun free zones.

The Brady Bunch said:
"...more than 125,000 comments were received on the proposed rule change, and that many of these comments expressed opposition to a change in the existing rules."

True, but “many” does not constitute a majority. They fail to mention the 4.7 million Americans represented in the one letter from the NRA in favor of this change. For some reason the NRA is never recognized for what it actually is, a collection of members, that is American citizens who choose to voice their opinion collectively rather than publically and disruptively like the Brady squad and its numerous off shoot organizations. They want people to believe that the NRA is just a single bully on the block. Let the NRA support one of their causes and see how quick the 4.7 million members become noticed.

In short, the Brady Bunch continues the same old Chicken Little "the sky is falling" fear mongering claims, which have been proven false time and time again across the nation, to garner support for their misguided cause. Despite the fact that disarmament has in every case resulted in an increase in violent crime (England, Canada, Australia, etc.) they continue to forge on in their attempt to make this country as unsafe and dictator ruled as the rest of the world. Fortunately this is a mute point now that President Obama has (reluctantly) signed national park carry into law.

...from 2002 to 2006, 1916 violent crimes occurred in national parks, including murder, rape, kidnapping and robbery.

As I commented on a different post on the gun topic, some of those crimes had only a technical connection to a park (Examples: the body was found in the park but the crime was almost certainly committed elsewhere; a lovers quarrel that ended in a shooting on a greyhound bus that only by coincidence happened to be driving on a road in the DC area that is under NPS jurisdiction.)

Such incidents definitely skew the numbers on the high side, and paint an inaccurately high picture of the number of serious crimes involving visitors who were in the park minding their own business when the crime originated.

...the 240 women raped between 2002 and 2006... were victims because they were denied the means to protect themselves.

First, I fully agree that these sad situations represent reprehensible crimes. However, the same principle cited above applies here as well. Some (I'd go so far as to say many) of these crimes began outside a park (where in almost every case the victims could have been armed if they had chosen to do so.) In such cases, the victim had no idea she would end up in a park before the night was over, so she certainly wouldn't have left her gun at home simply because of the previous NPS rule.

Based on the cited numbers of an average of about 50 such incidents occurred in all NPS areas between 2002 and 2006. I'd be willing to bet that a larger number of such incidents occur each year in plenty of individual cities - where under state law, those victims were not "denied the means to protect themselves."

No, I don't have firm numbers, and had no reason to track that, but during 30 years in NPS law enforcement and 40 years in following such reports in the media and official sources, I feel I'm on solid ground in stating that the number of women who are accosted while visiting a park and then raped are extremely small indeed.

The same could be said of any other violent crime: the chances that a law-abiding park visitor will become the victim of a crime in a park are much lower than even the already small number of reported incidents would suggest.

"...more than 125,000 comments were received on the proposed rule change, and that many of these comments expressed opposition to a change in the existing rules." True, but “many” does not constitute a majority. They fail to mention the 4.7 million Americans represented in the one letter from the NRA.

Simply counting the number of members in any organization to gauge public support quickly degenerates into a game of spinning the numbers. By that measure, you'd have to consider the total membership of all groups that took a position pro or con on any issue. It's also risky to infer the position of individual members of any group on any issue. As a gun owner and former NRA member, I wasn't in favor of this particular position, and I suspect some NPCA members were.

Sorry, just paying your dues to any group and assuming that registers your position on any topic doesn't impress me very much. If you're trying to get a picture of public sentiment on an important topic, a key measure is how many people cared enough about it respond individually to a call for public comments – which makes the distribution of opinions in those 125,000 comments that were made a much more valid measure in my book.