NPCA, Park Retirees File Lawsuit to Halt Change in National Park Gun Rules

Another lawsuit has been filed in a bid to prevent a change in national park gun rules. Late Tuesday the National Parks Conservation Association and the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees filed their lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Washington.

Back on December 30 the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence filed a similar lawsuit.

The filing by the NPCA and retirees coalition seeks an injunction against enforcement of the Bush administration’s new regulation that would allow national park visitors with concealed weapons permits to arm themselves throughout their visits. In their lawsuit the two groups contend the rule change would increase the risk to visitors, park staff, and wildlife.

The rule is scheduled to take effect this Friday, January 9.

“In a rush to judgment, as a result of political pressure, the outgoing administration failed to comply with the law, and did not offer adequate reasons for doing so,” said NPCA President Tom Kiernan.

The Bush administration last month finalized a National Rifle Association-driven rule change to allow loaded, concealed firearms in all national parks except those located in two states: Wisconsin and Illinois, which do not permit concealed weapons. The former rule, put in place by the Reagan administration, required that firearms transported through national parks be safely stowed and unloaded.

“Our members, with over 20,000 years accumulated experience managing national parks, can see absolutely no good coming from the implementation of this rule. More guns equal more risk,” said Bill Wade, chair of the coalition's executive council. “Apparently, the Bush administration chose to ignore the outpouring of concern voiced during the public comment period."

According to the lawsuit, the Department of the Interior “adopted the gun rule with unwarranted haste, without following procedures required by law and without the consideration of its consequences that they are required to observe under law… The new regulation is an affront to the national parks’ missions and purposes and a threat to the national parks’ resources and values, which must be held unlawful and set aside.”

As with the Brady Campaign, the NPCA and retirees coalition maintain that the rule is unlawful because the Interior Department failed to conduct an analysis of the rule’s environmental effects, as required by the National Environmental Policy Act, including the effects of the rule on threatened and endangered species. The lawsuit also argues that Interior officials ignored the National Park Service Organic Act, and the Administrative Procedure Act.

“Any reasonable person would have to conclude that changing these rules to allow more firearms in the national parks could have an environmental impact on park wildlife and resources,” Mr. Kiernan said.

In a letter sent to Interior Secretary Kempthorne on April 3, seven former directors of the National Park Service stated that there is no need to change the regulations. “In all our years with the National Park Service, we experienced very few instances in which this limited regulation created confusion or resistance,” the letter stated. “There is no evidence that any potential problems that one can imagine arising from the existing regulations might overwhelm the good they are known to do.”

The rule also was opposed by the current career leadership of the National Park Service and other park management professionals, including the Association of National Park Rangers and the Ranger Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police.

The public agrees: of the 140,000 people who voiced their opinion on this issue during the public comment period, 73 percent opposed allowing loaded, concealed firearms in the national parks, according to NPCA tallies.

Comments

In this article, Kurt characterizes the new rule-change as "National Rifle Association-driven".

Well ... certainly, the NRA liked this idea, was doubtless instrumental in hustling around Congress etc on it's behalf, and otherwise cheerleading & pitching-in any way they could. Sure ... but 'NRA-driven' is a significant enhancement of the capacity they wield.

Right off the top, if the NRA et al were able to "drive" gun-laws in this country, gun-laws in the country would be way, way different than they are. Agreed?

The NRA would for sure "support" the new regulation. Where their presence would have a positive effect (it would not, in all situations), they would participate in "lobbying" key persons, or groups. They would willingly help "promote" and "publicize" it.

For opponents of the new Parks gun-regulation, who want to know who their 'enemy' is, presenting the change as something that the NRA 'pulled off' in this coup, poses the suggestion that the way to minimize the chances of more changes like this, is to seek ways to minimize the NRA & its public role. Take the NRA down a few notches, get these usurping interlopers out of the Halls of Congress, and this gun-nonsense will abate. Hmm.

More accurately, the new rule was driven by factions within Congress, and the national political parties. They had a friendly Administration in the White House, and 'went for it'. The NRA was high-fivvin' 'em all the way, you bet - but "driving"? Hmm.

The guns-in-Parks rule-change was mainly "elected Representative/Senator/Politics-driven". The way to reduce the chances of more of this kind of stuff is to focus on the Congress, who was actually responsible, and not to 'kid' ourselves that the NRA "drives" laws in this country.
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The important thing to be considering now is the outlook of President-elect Obama. He is the one who will have the greatest weight in determining how the changes move forward, or don't.

Of & by his own devices & nature, Obama is a gun-opponent. He doesn't like guns and would like to see them gone. However, after serving in a high position with the main gun-control lobby, and considering a role as chairman & leader of the whole movement, he then withdrew from the organization and subsequently distanced himself from the gun-opposition camp as a whole.

The combination of his stated position on the 2nd Amendment (support) and his appointment of Salazar to Interior suggest he will permit the new regs to stand.
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Neither this lawsuit by former Parks staff, nor the one by the Brady organization, strike me as containing anything that is going to have Judges sitting on the edge of their chair, head cocked & listening intently to the penetrating logic of the complainant. The reasons given for bringing suit are primarily "opinions" and "emotional appeals", and are all subordinate to the Law of the Land pertaining to firearms. NPCA, like Brady, has no substantive case.

Our members, with over 20,000 years accumulated experience managing national parks, can see absolutely no good coming from the implementation of this rule.

Here's another example of Mr. Wade disingenuously lumping all CNPSR members into the anti-gun crowd. To avoid portraying the CNPSR as totally unified, which it is not, he ought to insert "Some" before "Our" and make the appropriate grammatical edits. However, I expect Mr. Wade will continue to ignore internal dissent and will to continue to censor CNPSR members who defend the entire Constitution.

In their lawsuit the two groups contend the rule change would increase the risk to visitors, park staff, and wildlife
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An increase in risk? By what factor? I don't know what evidence the groups might possess; the federal government does not keep national statistics on poaching in parks. I don't know that there is any evidence that concealed weapons permit holders would put visitors and park staff at higher risk.

The lawsuit will accomplish something though; it will waste money.

Oh, I don't know Ted, I it's fairly accurate to say NRA drove this measure right through the Senate. They worked with Sen. Coburn in drafting the amendment he pushed to change the rules, and I wouldn't be surprised if they ghosted the letter the 50 senators sent to Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne asking for a rule change. And you know they had a strong lobby going to keep the pressure on Kempthorne.

That said, so what? It's not a pejorative to describe the NRA's role any more than it is to criticize the NPCA for pushing issues it views as vital to the parks.

This is most disappointing: I dont understand why any group is willing to tell the crooks it is OK to come into the NPS and rob and kill who they want because no one will be able to protect themselves. Sorta dumb isnt it. If vistor can pass the concealed weapons laws and a FBI and local law enforcement agencies test I dont see why you want only the crooks to carry guns in national park, have you ever heard of a crook, anywhere, that pays attention to any law.
If the sign at the entrance to any np states "no weapons allowed" this is the same as saying "come on in crooks no one here has a gun." Think about it.

[Ed: This posting, originally all in caps, was edited to sentence case.]

Kirk: Why are you in favor of crooks, who never have or had paid any attention to any law be the only ones to carry concealed firearms in the national parks? When any organization or business support a law that does not allow a citizen with a concealed weapons license to carry a gun for protection is telling the crook it is ok to rob and kill the unarmed citizen.
Sorta dumb isnt it -- considering what it take to get a concealed weapons license. You mention illinois as a non concealed weapons state. Question: how many people are killed by guns in illinois that says "it is ok for the crooks to carry weapons but not for the law abiding citizen. Dumb really dumb illinois the crook free state.

[Ed: This posting, originally all in caps, was edited to sentence case. Come on folks; let's quit "shouting"" at each other.]

Not only that, Kurt, but Senator Crapo, R-Id, admits that the NRA drafted the letter that Senators signed and sent to Kempthorne. I think Ted is underestimating the capacity of the NRA to drive campaigns like this.

But, as you point out, so what? Does it surprise anyone? My only question is why did they wait so long? They had 7 1/2 years of a friendly admiinistration. Maybe they waited so long so that it would be a last minute deal that their allies in the Department could get through without going through the normal rule-making processes, shortening the public comment period and ignoring the NEPA compliance processes. And does it surprise anyone that groups who think more guns in parks is a bad idea would challenge the rule?

Rick Smith

Ted Clayton:

To categorize a lawsuit brought by the NPCA and the CNPSR as an "emotional appeal" is patronizing to say the least. To disregard the professional experience that many of their members have in park/resource management is to belittle the value of their experience. And to disregard their professional assessment of the situation (because it doesn't agree with yours) is unnecessarily disrespectful.

Concerning President-elect Obama, what exactly is his "nature", as you so dangerously phrase it?
It will be interesting to see whether or not he takes on this particular ruling, his support for the 2nd Amendment notwithstanding. (If his eventual decision doesn't completely jibe with your interpretation, will you still see him as a "supporter"?)

And: Do you really think the NRA does not exercise it's considerable political clout whenever possible? That opinion is beneath your demonstrated intellect, don't patronize the forum please.
If you are sincerely unfamiliar with the breadth and reach of the NRA I suggest you go take a look at the NRA website, and you'll get an idea of just what that organization can and will get themselves involved in.

Bill Woodard:
Just how many "crooks" have been responsible for crimes within the National Parks so far? The no-carry situation in National Parks has been in effect for decades, and I'm just not familiar with how many crimes have occurred in our Parks that could have been prevented by law-abiding gun owners. Can you share your source and statistics for your assumptions? Or at least some sort of comparable precedent that would support the need for this ruling?

Bill, it's "Kurt.";-)

That aside, I'm not at all in favor of crooks. But the system as it's currently running is working if you believe the crime stats for national parks.'Nuff said.

Bill Wade
Chair, Executive Council
Coalition of National Park Service Retirees

Well, Frank the facts are these: the entire Executive Council of CNPSR, duly elected by the members, voted unanimously to support this suit. And, while I suspect every single person in CNPSR doesn't agree 100 percent, the way our organization runs is that the membership allows the EC to make the decisions on their behalf. Not unlike the country does business; however, not one single member has yet to notify me that they disagree with the suit, and we've been discussing it for some time now. So, I have no clue where you get the idea there is some internal dissent.

As to the risk, you know very well something like that is hard to quantify; but the survey we did resulting in the report referred to on our website; and that we submitted to DOI, provided ample indication from a significant number of current and former employees of the NPS that the risk would increase. That's exactly what we said.

NRA "drives" laws through Congress.

When involved in a conflict or struggle, folks need to know who the opponent actually is, if they are to take effective actions. The problem is, folks very commonly react toward figures & entities other than the source of their grievance. Sounds weird - and often is! - but it's true.

The boss comes into work and gets on everyone's case, all day long. The real source of the boss's irritation is his wife, but he's treating the crew at work like the enemy. Then when he goes home, he kicks the dog, for good measure. This is the classic case of "redirecting" frustration to a less-threatening or less-dangerous figure (if he lights-in to his wife, he only digs himself in deeper).

This is called "displacement", in Psych 101.

In our present case, it is better to hang the blame for the new gun-law on the NRA, because the real 'culprit' is that American citizenry as a whole, who strongly support gun rights. That's really why we have the new guns-in-Parks rule: Because elected Representatives know taking positive actions to correct erosion of the Second Amendment pays generous dividends, next time elections come around. They don't need the NRA to figure this out, or know what to do.

To rail against America as a whole, and try to paint the vast masses in some vaguely nefarious shade, is too big a bite to gnaw off and choke down. But here's the NRA - and handy to the scene of the 'crime'. "Damn s.o.bs - always subverting the American government..."

Frankly guys, I think Capitol Hill can stand on its own against the NRA ... and they're not really into handing out Legislative powers to let lobbies "drive" law-making.

Legal action based on "emotional appeal"

Asserting in a lawsuit that something that we don't like is increasing the "risk" of bad things happening is extremely common. It's "emotional" because the suit says there is something "scary" about the activity we don't like, that there is something to "fear", and we want it stopped. Fear is an emotion, so to "appeal" on such a premise to the Court is an "emotional appeal".

Disrespecting the NPCA and the CNPSR

These people are just lobbyists, same as the NRA. They have no more business doing what they do - and no less - than the Exxon lobby has doing what it does. They're just a group acting on behalf of a particular point of view. The test of this assertion will be, when & if we finally manage to pass real lobby-reform laws to brush-back the lobby-horde, the NPCA & CNPSR will find themselves toeing the same line that Exxon & NRA surrogates are put behind.

Bill Wade
Chair, Executive Council
Coalition of National Park Service Retirees

Ted -

I object to you categorizing CNPSR as a lobbyist in the same breath as Exxon. The law requires an organization to register if it has lobbyists. CNPSR is a non-profit 501c3 and has to report on any "lobbying" it does, in order to retain its non-profit status. Last FY, using the legal definition of lobbying for non-profits, we "lobbied" about 2% of what we were legally allowed.

Bill,

I understand that it is a little distasteful to see your organization mentioned, much less categorized with Exxon or NRA. But I did not say that CNPSR are liars, thieves or otherwise disparage them, only bringing forward that they are a "lobby", like a large number of other such groups that 'work' the government.

Its no different than discussing lawyers. Many of us have developed a reflexive snarl when we use the 'L-word'. However, there is a wide range in the ethical footing in the lawyer-population: Some are indeed scoundrels, while others are quality people. Yet, we don't hear 'nice' lawyers object, "Don't call me a lawyer", because some lawyers are nefarious. Lawyers are lawyers - and lobbies are lobbies.

When and if we pass laws to reduce the influence of lobbying upon the government, the controls enacted will not be applied "using the legal definition of lobbying". Rather, a lobby-control law will be applied on the basis of actions & relationships, whether an entity meets a particular legal definition or not.

If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's a lobby.

We have groups who engage in lobbying-activities, but do not register as or meet the formal definition of a lobby. If we passed a law that controlled only those groups that are registered or meet the technical definition of a lobby, then the day after the law comes into effect, every since lobby in the country would suddenly be reorganized as an informal body outside the "legal definition", and all lobby-activities would proceed, 'business as usual'. Hmm?

I think we ought not lose sight that lobbies we like & approve are just as much a part of the 'issue' and 'problem' of lobbying, as are those lobbies we think stink.

And, they will be controlled under the law, the same as those we don't want mentioned with.

Mr Wade: I previously commented that the "survey" to which you refer is not scientific; it seems based mostly the respondents' feelings rather than scientific data. I pointed out that it was more akin to a questionnaire than a scientific survey, and I listed some of the problems with gathering data online.

... the survey we did ... provided ample indication from a significant number of current and former employees of the NPS that the risk would increase.

Could you please direct me to the data you collected? Is it posted on the CNPSR website? Or maybe you could answer a few questions:

What were the methods of data collection?
Exactly who was surveyed?
What does "ample indication" mean?
To what does "significant number" equate? Do you have raw numbers and/or percentages?
How many and/or what percent didn't think the risk would increase?

Thank you in advance.

So... let's take all of the discussion about "lobbyists" out of the argument, and get back to the issue.

As Kurt wrote earlier: "The public agrees: of the 140,000 people who voiced their opinion on this issue during the public comment period, 73 percent opposed allowing loaded, concealed firearms in the national parks, according to NPCA tallies." And that was during an intentionally abbreviated (by the Bush Administration) comment process, that also masterfully managed to ignore the necessary NEPA compliance process. If put through the full legislative process, this ruling would most likely NOT have seen the light of day. And the Bush Administration knew that.

I think the public comment statistic shows that if left up to a public vote, an essential part of the democratic process, concealed carry in the Parks would not be allowed. Are these 73% all blindly following the political agenda of some unknown evil bent on ruining the fine fabric of our nation by chipping away at our God-given, er, I mean our Constitution-given rights?

Let's get real here. The majority of the general public, the professionals, and the legislators don't think this ruling is lawful, necessary, or prudent. Enough said.
Sorry gun owners, but sometimes you just don't get your way. Will you now raise your militias to force your views on the rest of us?

Warren Z.,

Warren said:

"So... let's take all of the discussion about "lobbyists" out of the argument, and get back to the issue."
Warren, Kurt elevated the lobbies to a central position in his leading article here. His objection to the role of the NRA (lobby) is that their (lobbying) role improperly tipped the national lawmaking process. His elevation of the role of lobbies is entirely appropriate: They have been key & primary players - both pro & con - throughout the life of the issue under discussion. Largely, "lobbyists" are "the issue".

Warren said:

"Let's get real here. The majority of the general public, the professionals, and the legislators don't think this ruling is lawful, necessary, or prudent. Enough said. [emph. added]"
On the contrary, actually: "Majority in U.S. poll support gun ownership rights"
"Nearly two-thirds of Americans say they believe the Constitution guarantees each person the right to own a gun, according to a poll released Sunday.

In all, 65 percent said they thought the Constitution ensures that right, and 31 percent said it did not. The question had a sampling error of plus-or-minus 3 points.

Men and people living in rural areas were most likely to say the Constitution guarantees the right to own a gun.

Nearly three quarters of men (72 percent) said they believed so, versus 26 percent who did not. More than half (58 percent) of women said they believed so, versus slightly more than a third (35 percent) who did not.

That question had a sampling error of plus-or-minus 4.5 points.

Among rural dwellers, 73 percent said they agreed, versus 64 percent and only half (50 percent) of city dwellers who thought the same."

On the matter of public views regarding firearm ownership, a large majority is consistently supportive.

Wow..cute comic! And is that the way we as U.S. citizens should see it? That we cannot go and visit a national park without feeling bodily threatened and in need of a firearm?
My husband & I have visited numerous parks, and the day when I don't feel safe...we'll be staying home!

Ted:

The CNN poll you referenced, as worded, concerns the right to own guns. It did not ask respondent's interpretation of the 2nd Amendment, specifically where and when it would be appropriate to carry legally owned and loaded firearms. That's a big difference.
I see where you're going though: one can always find a poll or statistic to support their viewpoint. But the poll you quote does not pertain to the point I made.

Perhaps you could help me understand how legal ownership, as provided for in the 2nd Amendment, implies that one can carry a fully loaded legally owned gun on Federally owned and protected lands wherever and whenever one chooses? The specific word that confuses me is "militia", and how the 21st Century issue of gun owners wanting to keep a fully loaded at their side at all times while walking Federally protected lands relates to that concept.

Let's all take a look at dictionary definitions of the word "militia".
- a military force raised from the civil population to supplement a regular army in an emergency.
- a military force composed of ordinary citizens to provide defense, or emergency law enforcement.
- a military force that engages in rebel or terrorist activities, typically in opposition to a regular army.
- all able-bodied citizens eligible by law for military service.

Some questions for everyone:
Will you need to have your gun on you while hiking the Grand Canyon in the event you are called to service while on vacation?
Or perhaps you'll take it upon yourself to interpret a particular situation you decide is unlawful, thus justifying your need to provide defense?
If you're no longer eligible for military service, will you keep your gun at home?
Were the framers of The Constitution concerned with contemporary issues of possession, purchase, and transportation?
"A well regulated Militia..." Where's the regulation in letting gun owners carry wherever they choose?
Why do organized gun ownership concerns always seemingly resort to fear when searching for supporters?

Warren,

The questions you have on the Second Amendment were taken up earlier in '08 by the Supreme Court, and their treaty on the history, analysis and legal status of both the questions and the Amendment are published in their ruling, D.C. vs Heller..

This ruling says it better than I can, it's on the formal public record, and it's from the Supreme Court of the United States.

"Or perhaps you'll take it upon yourself to interpret a particular situation you decide is unlawful, thus justifying your need to provide defense?"

Among your snide questions, this one's the winner. As to when I decide a situation is unlawful, it's really easy. As a CHL holder (and indeed as a citizen), I am permitted to use lethal force when faced with "imminent threat of death or grievous bodily harm". This is what the law allows. You will not even know I carry a gun until that happens.

"Why do organized gun ownership concerns always seemingly resort to fear when searching for supporters?"

Funny. We use facts showing that crime is real, that the police have no obligation to protect us, that regular citizens have proven quite capable of defending themselves, and that CHL holders have a remarkable record for safety. It is the opponents who seem to come up with "fear" as evidence of a problem (see plaintiffs).

Bravo Ted...Bravo!!

If only I had a dollar for every time I see in the Morning Report something about firearms possession in a park, I could have retired already!

Ted:

From the published Supreme Court ruling No. 07-290, District of Columbia, et al., Petitioners v. Dick Anthony Heller,
Opinion of the Court:
"Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment IS NOT UNLIMITED... Although we do not undertake an exhaustive historical analysis today of the full scope of the Second Amendment, nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms... or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings.."
"In sum, we hold that the District’s ban on handgun possession IN THE HOME violates the Second Amendment, as does its prohibition against rendering any lawful firearm IN THE HOME operable for the purpose of immediate self-defense. Assuming that Heller is not disqualified from the exercise of Second Amendment rights, the District must permit him to register his handgun and must issue him a license to carry it IN THE HOME." (emphasis added)

Nothing in their opinion should should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions... That's all we, the dissenters to the legal carry in National Parks ruling, are saying. And the Right-leaning Supreme Court apparently agrees with us.

I bring to your attention the purposeful use of the phrase "in the home" in the original case, and in Supreme Court's ultimate decision. IN THE HOME. How does DC v. Heller, concerning legal possession of a firearm in the home, guarantee the right to take a legally owned and loaded weapon into a National Park? It's clear that the Supreme Court, stacked with right wing personal rights advocates such as it currently is, only interprets the 2nd Amendment so far as legal possession within one's own home. Thorough reading of their very thorough published opinion proves this out, and gives pretty good insight into possible future cases concerning guns and personal use rights. Thank you for bringing it to my attention.

The issue of ownership protected by the 2nd Amendment is not the issue addressed by the legal carry ruling controversy. Yet proponents of legal carry within our National Parks constantly circle back around to that point (which is not being questioned by the anti-carry within a National Park opinions expressed here), for what purpose I am not sure.
Ownership of an item does not imply I can or should take that item with me anywhere I go.

Again I ask that we stick to the specific issue at hand.

Jim in Houston:

I agree that crime is real. I've been the victim of violent crime. My life wasn't threatened, though I did suffer bodily harm.
But you know what? I never once thought "I wish I'd had a gun..." The gang that surrounded and attacked me did so swiftly, even efficiently. The lead pipe they used to break my arm and lacerate my scalp almost knocked me unconscious... I doubt I would have had the faculty to use a gun to defend myself. But I never wold have thought to carry one, I just wasn't raised with the thought that I may have to defend myself one day with a gun. So that's my bias.

I grew up in an urban area, and have lived in urban areas most of my life, and to the contrary of popular beliefs propagated by our national media, never once in my life have I heard a gunshot while living in a city.
(Except on New Year's Eve: In the region of the country in which I now live it's customary to shoot off guns to celebrate the coming of the New Year. But such reckless use of a firearm would only be perpetrated by criminals, right?)

I guess I'm naive, I don't spend my days expecting "imminent threat of death or grievous bodily harm". And yet I've managed to survive for 45 years.

Go look at the home pages of every pro-gun website and you see many examples of fear-mongering.

I admit I have a strong personal bias about this ruling, and sometimes that bias comes out in my argument. I truly do not intend to be snide, I just want someone to answer the questions I continue to ask, specifically related to the issue these comments are intended to address.

For all:
Please don't quote chapter and verse on the 2nd Amendment or DC v. Heller as a tactic to avoid responding to the issue of legal carry in a National Park.

I am a biologist, and some of my work takes place inside National Parks and Wildlife Refuges. I do not support the NPCAs lawsuit, because I view it as a misallocation of limited financial and human resources. That the Brady Campaign filed suit is understandable, because "that's what they do." But this as an unworthy pursuit by the NPSA. The stated argument is that this rule change will place parks staff, visitors, and wildlife at risk. But such reasoning lacks merit. Currently, some 40 states issue carry licenses to anyone who passes criminal background checks and demonstrates training with firearms, and another 8 states issue such licenses on a discriminatory basis. Data from these states (notably Florida, where shall-issue has been law for 21 years) demonstrates that persons with carry permits are extraordinarily law-abiding, and in some states literally hundreds of times less likely to be involved in crimes than the population at large. This evidence flies in the face of claims that carry licensees will perpetrate crimes if allowed to carry in National Parks or Wildlife Refuges; they don't do so anywhere else, so it is wholly without merit argue that they will within park boundaries.

The lack of evidence that licensees commit crimes points to another motivation, one that is likely subjective if not unspoken. Many of those (with whom I have discussed this rule change) support this lawsuit primarily for symbolic reasons. Simply put, they don't like "those people" who would carry guns for personal or family protection. Those are personal beliefs and they are fine, as long as they don't drive policy. But it has been appalling for me to learn that this personal, subjective, and prejudicial bias is what's motivating much of the opposition to the rule change.

As an aside and as a more primary observation, I find it unfortunate that these discussions are taking place in the light of the DOI-solicited public comments. Such comments are of an academic interest only. The bill of rights exists precisely to protect the rights of individual from the will of the majority (eg. legislation enacted by democratically elected governments, or rules promulgated by the DOI). If the second amendment specifically protects the right of individuals to own and to carry defensive arms (and it certainly appears to do so), then this question of whether they may be carried within park boundaries is moot, constitutionally speaking. So in effect, this argument is about whether the constitution is in effect within the boundaries of lands administered by the Park Service ... so the issue, and many of these arguments, are flawed from their foundation. And that is roundly unfortunate.

I do not expect to have a flat, yet I carry a jack and a spare.
I do not expect my house to catch on fire, yet I keep an extinguisher handy.
I carry what I believe to be adequate home and auto insurance, though I certainly do not seek out accidents.
And where prudent I carry a firearm, though I hope to never need it.
If all this labels me paranoid, then so be it.
But consider the following from the National Park Servise's own data:

The National Park Service says there were 116,588 reported offenses in national parks in 2006, the most recent year for which data are available, including 11 killings, 35 rapes or attempted rapes, 61 robberies, 16 kidnappings and 261 aggravated assaults.

And as to the accusation that this was sprung on everyone at the last minute, I call BS. This has been in the works for something like three years and the comment period was even extended to allow additional time for input. I expect there was some intent to get this through before the administration changed, but that's just how politics works. I am sure there are many such actions that are being held until after the handover for similar reasons.

Jim in Houston,

You picked Warren Z.'s remark:

"Or perhaps you'll take it upon yourself to interpret a particular situation you decide is unlawful, thus justifying your need to provide defense?"
... as his "winner". Myself, though, I had a hard time resisting:
"Sorry gun owners, but sometimes you just don't get your way. Will you now raise your militias to force your views on the rest of us?"
Warren, with commentary like this, you may as well just throw yourself on the floor kicking & screaming.

We've geared up and posted signs. Tomorrow concealed weapons will enter the park legally. Our evidence lockers will no longer be over flowing with guns that were confiscated when visitors carrying concealed weapons permits were stopped for a myriad of other offenses, such as feeding the wildlife, speeding, littering and so on and were given a citation for possession of a weapon and a warning for the other. I for one look forward to giving our park rangers the opportunity to getting back to the business of accomplishing the mission and focusing on the litter, the speed and the feeding the wildlife.

"I guess I'm naive, I don't spend my days expecting "imminent threat of death or grievous bodily harm". And yet I've managed to survive for 45 years."

I've spent almost 60 years without being attacked, and I expect to spend the rest of my life similarly blessed (that's what I would expect statistically). However, bad things happen to good people and if I need a gun, I will need it right then (and statistical expectations will be irrelevant). I will try to be prepared for such an eventuality.

As to whether or not a gun would have stopped the attack you suffered, well who knows? If you were attacked from behind without any warning, then there is little you or anyone else could have done. However, if you had 5 seconds of warning and were mentally prepared, you could have easily produced your gun and likely stopped the attack. A gang that brought a lead pipe to a gun fight would likely have a frantic change of mind. Please note that only a gun could have any chance to equalize the situation of one against many. Alternatively, if there were an armed bystander in the vicinity, then the whole event might have gone differently.

"But I never wold have thought to carry one, I just wasn't raised with the thought that I may have to defend myself one day with a gun."

I wasn't raised that way either. However, I'm a smart man and realized that I needed to change my mind on this issue. I realized that if I were attacked, I would be at the mercy of the merciless until such time as someone else with a gun showed up (assuming I could even get a 911 call out). I wanted to have a chance during those precious minutes. The only way to do this is have the man with the gun there from the start of any such assault. This is particularly true as I am getting weaker and less agile by the year.

Carrying a gun is a heavy responsibility, one that is drilled into your head during CHL training. You might want to reconsider yourself.

And just in case that gun ownership is only for mouth-breathing knuckle-draggers, I will point out that I am the proud possessor of two Ivy League degrees, including a doctorate in the sciences. That stereotype (see Random Walker's cartoon) is not only wrong but extraordinarily offensive.

Dr. Carl Dick,

Thanks for the circumspect account as an 'outside' professional, from within the National Parks scene.

Folks on this Parks-oriented website are handling this topic as a "guns-in-Parks" issue, but it is really a "guns in America" issue, specifically that some think guns don't belong in America, and it is only a matter of time until their victory becomes overt & complete.

The new DOI regulation, though, (and almost simultaneous with D.C. vs Heller) is a jarring reversal of the broad trend to progressively paint firearms & firearm owners as a tawdry anachronism that we need to put behind us.

Anti-gun factions have long overestimated the extent to which their efforts have marginalized the status of gun-ownership. The gun-opposition has deceived, perhaps deluded themselves that they are 'on a roll', and in due course guns will fade into the sunset like the Marlboro Man.

Now, they are confronted by strong contrary evidence, and the unexpected advent of these signs that the nation fully intends to retain & defend the concept of an armed citizenry appears to be generating a degree of 'denial' in some.

Uncle Lar said (among other ringing commentary):

"And as to the accusation that this was sprung on everyone at the last minute, I call BS. This has been in the works for something like three years and the comment period was even extended to allow additional time for input.
Several otherwise competent & effective people here have been compromising their own otherwise credible arguments, by leaning on this nonexistent bulwark.

Congress, through its own normal, Constitutionally authorized means, produced a measure in fulfillment of its proper role as Representative of the American citizens - all of them - Constitutionally authorized gun owners & all.

For the record, I am not "anti-gun".
I happen to be "anti-" carry a gun anywhere you please, a gut reaction I admit, though I reasonably accept the well stated arguments and opinions of most of the commentators on the pro- carry side.
I apologize for letting my own commentary slide into a realm of sarcasm and misinterpretation.

That said, I think it's unfortunate that the pro- carry arguments on this website pick and choose the facts and the established case law to support their position, especially in light of the extremely thorough consideration and statement of opinion by the Supreme Court in DC v. Heller, adopted as the current pro- gun victory, but so be it.
If the pro- carry folks can only think in terms of broad agendas, perhaps that speaks to a larger plan of action yet to be revealed...
Now that just sounds ridiculous, right?

To paint us anti- carry folks as stupid, irresponsible, whining, babies kicking and screaming on the floor is just as unnecessary as that unfortunate cartoon that plays on prejudicial stereotypes.

I personally am not a member of any anti-gun organization, nor have I ever sought to diminish anyone's civil rights as established by the great documents drafted by our founding fathers.
So it saddens me to have my portrait painted with such broad strokes, based on my opinions.
And it puzzles me that such learned folks, as most of the pro- carry commentators here, can only see a broad swath of paranoid fanatics ready to take away all of their guns, and all of their rights while we're at it.

Ted said:
"Folks on this Parks-oriented website are handling this topic as a "guns-in-Parks" issue, but it is really a "guns in America" issue, specifically that some think guns don't belong in America, and it is only a matter of time until their victory becomes overt & complete."
The Brady organization specifically states it seeks reasonable and responsible gun legislation, and does not seek to remove firearms from every American's possession.
Many of the members of the CNPSR carried guns as part of their job.
These are not anti- gun people.

The Supreme Court, in DC v. Heller, did not view that case as one of "guns in America", but rather as a "guns-in-the-home" issue. (The dissenting justice attempted to draw a much broader interpretive picture, but once we all read that document I think we can all agree that the dissenting argument is weak and tangential.)
That's how the Supreme Court works, on a case by case basis, writing opinions on an individual case within the broader framework of established case law from our nation's courts.
The highest court in the land couldn't make this about "guns in America", so why are the pro- carry folks?
Because they fear a growing establishment of case law contrary to their personal idiosyncratic interpretation of the 2nd Amendment, not because they fear for the detriment and destruction of the Bill of Rights, a cloak of patriotic protection constantly used by the pro-gun folks. Their published opinions here bare this out.

I own a car, but I'm not allowed to park it wherever I choose. Is that a violation of my personal rights?

I speak my mind freely, but the Bill of Rights does not automatically protect me from suffering the consequences of acting with unlawful prejudice, discrimination, slander and bias based on my beliefs. Is that a violation of my personal rights?

When I go to a movie theater, I turn off my cell phone as requested, abiding by a reasonable standard of civil behavior. Is such a request a violation of my personal rights?

One last example/question, albeit personal and tangential:
I am a gay man in a relationship of 18+ years, yet the Federal government, and most states (including my own) refuse to legally recognize the stability and worth of my relationship because of religion-based prejudice of what I do in the privacy of my bedroom.
Wouldn't you agree that's a violation of civil rights? Aren't CIVIL marriage laws based on RELIGIOUS beliefs and definitions a violation of the Constitutional Principle of the Separation of Church and State?
I'll give you legal carry if you folks give me the legal HUMAN right to marry my partner of 18 years.
I look forward to seeing all of you personal rights advocates at the next pro- gay marriage rights rally, we can use your passionate support of personal civil rights.

Kurt, your only sources were the NPCA, the CNPSR, & the Brady folks, so the article is all one sided, just regurgitating their (the NPCA, the CNPSR, and the Brady folks) unsubstantiated anti freedom rhetoric.

The rules change only brings National Parks Regulations in line with the long existing regulations of National Forests which is simply to allow the States to set their own carry laws. Are they scared to go to National Forest land too? If the people who are scared of our holstered guns are willing to go to the Mall, why are they suddenly scared to go to a National Park that no longer infringes on our natural born but Second Amendment protected right to bear arms in defense of our lives & our families? We already carry everywhere else, crossing a National Park boundary isn't going to cause us to go berserk.

They attempt to justify the old ban by saying statistically we're less likely to be raped, killed, or mugged while unarmed in National Parks than on the streets of Washington DC or other high crime areas. To that I'd say tell that to a defenseless rape victim, or the surviving family of a murder victim. It mattered to the defenseless murder victims just before they drew their last breath, it matters to their surviving family members, it matters to victims who managed to survive, and it matters to me.

If that alone were not enough, there is in fact no "right to be free of senseless fears." There is however a right to bear arms. So I guess they'll either have to get used to those of us who have decided to accept the responsibility for the safety of our families, or push to add a new constitutional amendment that would state that everyone has a right not to be scared of senseless phobias.

Dustin,

According to the Supreme Court, your "right to bear arms" in your home may not be infringed, but it's perfectly legal for a government, state or federal, to restrict where you can carry.

As for the sources in the above post, the story was about the lawsuit those groups filed. Would you prefer that in the future I insert a boilerplate sentence on the NRA's position? If you spend a little time looking at past Traveler posts, and comments, on this issue you'll find the NRA's position very well-represented.

And finally, I suppose one could say your blogs are one-sided as they don't include comment from NPCA, the coalition, or the Brady Campaign.

Warren flashes his political skills:

"I am a gay man in a relationship of 18+ years ... I'll give you legal carry if you folks give me the legal HUMAN right to marry my partner of 18 years."

Among the historical American leaders whom I resonate best to, a disproportionate number based their accomplishments mainly on the art of compromise. ;-)

I accept that the struggle over gun-law and the struggle over gay marriage-law both take place in the murkier realms of the human animal.

It is certainly well-and-good to have the ability to focus on the knee-bone to the exclusion of other elements of the anatomy, to give it one's undivided attention and extra-penetrating insight. However, the knee-bone is for sure connected to the shin-bone, and the thigh-bone ... and in the default normal situation, they operate as a unit.

Congress knew that D.C. vs Heller was headed to the Supreme Court, as they were working on the guns-in-Parks rule-change, and of course would understand instantly that having both brought forward together, would have a much more potent effect than each brought forward independently, at different times.

The key variable for both the ongoing drama of guns in America, and the on-going drama of gay domestic status in America is the same factor: Obama.

And no doubt about it, he has made clear how ambiguous (if not schizoid) he is on these two hot-button issues: His first crucial compromise is going to be with himself.

This has been in some level of discussion since 2004 at least-petitions, bill drafts, etc. and the gun control groups have been there the whole time predicting rivers of blood, shootouts over camp space, rampant poaching, etc. all the while ignoring the fact that criminals carry wherever they want whenever they want.

More importantly, they fail to understand that a person can cross a national park and not even know it. Are there signs or any clear way of telling when you've gone from a state/national forest or state park to a national park? What about freeways that cross national parks? Should people have to stop and unload and secure their firearm for the 2 mile trip across the forrest?

What does the NPCA, Park retirees, Brady group, etc. plan to do about the murders, robberies, rapes, kidnapping and other assorted acts of violence committed against innocent park visitors by sadistic lunatics and the drug runners who use the parks as their grow/lab area?

murders, robberies, rapes, kidnapping and other assorted acts of violence committed against innocent park visitors by sadistic lunatics and the drug runners who use the parks as their grow/lab area?

And these atrocities are going to start happening when? Maybe I missed the news reports, but it seems likes the parks have never been, and are a far cry from becoming, anything like Detroit. :-)

In fairness, Kirby, there have been pot plantations in Sequoia, Yosemite, and a few other Western parks, but I haven't heard any reports of the growers chasing any tourists, or even engaging rangers.

And no one is claiming that there's never been a crime committed in a national park. Of course, no one is claiming that if concealed carry becomes the lay of the land that crime will vanish, either.

* Park Ranger Kris Eggle was killed in the line of duty in Organ Pipe Cactus NM in 2002 when he and three U.S. Border Patrol officers responded to a report from Mexican authorities of two armed smugglers heading into the United States. He was ambushed.

Kurt said:

According to the Supreme Court, your "right to bear arms" in your home may not be infringed, but it's perfectly legal for a government, state or federal, to restrict where you can carry.

Actually the Heller case was specific to determining whether or not the 2nd Amendment applies to all citizens or if it only applies to members of the Military, and if it applies to all citizens the second question was whether or not the DC ban on possession & use of handguns in the home was unconstitutional. They found that yes it applies to all citizens, and yes the DC ban on handguns in the home was indeed unconstitutional.

The issue of the "bear arms" portion of the second amendment was not addressed other than to mention they were not addressing it. The next Supreme Court challenge will probably be to determine incorporation to see if the civil right to keep & bear arms restricts only the Federal government from making laws that infringe it, or if it also applies to the States. Sometime after that the bear arms issue will probably be addressed (the issue of determining if the right to bear arms applies to law abiding citizens anyplace they're not prohibited from being, at least while on public property). Establishing precedents in these types of matters in the Supreme court will be a long process. Ironing out the 1st Amendment for example took many years in the courts to establish existing precedents.

As for the sources in the above post, the story was about the lawsuit those groups filed. Would you prefer that in the future I insert a boilerplate sentence on the NRA's position? If you spend a little time looking at past Traveler posts, and comments, on this issue you'll find the NRA's position very well-represented.

I was merely establishing the fact that the article was one sided, I did not mean to imply that there was something wrong with writing a one sided article. It would of course add a bit of interest to incorporate the view of folks from the other side of the issue rather than simply including the views of one side as if they were indisputable, but it is a free country so including only one side or both sides is of course always up to the author. :)
And finally, I suppose one could say your blogs are one-sided as they don't include comment from NPCA, the coalition, or the Brady Campaign.

I actually do often discuss the viewpoints of the other side or if not I at least link to the story I'm discussing. In my response to your article for example, I linked directly to it so everyone could read your side & judge for themselves.

Kurt said:

And no one is claiming that there's never been a crime committed in a national park.

Very good point Kurt. In fact, not including unreported cases of rape, nor unsolved missing person cases where no body was ever recovered, as Unlce Lar mentioned: "The National Park Service says there were 116,588 REPORTED offenses in national parks in 2006, the most recent year for which data are available, including 11 killings, 35 rapes or attempted rapes, 61 robberies, 16 kidnappings and 261 aggravated assaults."

of course, no one is claiming that if concealed carry becomes the lay of the land that crime will vanish, either.

Very true indeed. In places like Florida & other States that have introduced concealed carry laws, the crime stats bear out that although after implementation violent crime was indeed reduced, it has not yet had the effect of making all crime vanish. That goal while noble is simply not realistic.

All we're asking for is that as Americans we not have our right to choose to bear arms for our own protection infringed while we are on public property. If a private business owner wants to make a rule prohibiting men from coming onto their private property (such as a woman only Gym), or to make a rule prohibiting armed people from coming into their privately owned restaurant, I'm fine with that. As a patron I can choose to go to another restaurant that doesn't make that prohibition.

National Parks on the other hand are public property supported by public tax money. As such they should not have unconstitutional rules that violate our civil rights. Saying only disarmed people can walk onto National Park property is similar to saying only white people can attend a particular public school. Both are infringements of civil rights. We've done away with the race segregation issue in public schools, and once the new rules go into effect civil liberty & the right to bear arms will finally be restored in National Parks, at least in the States that are not already infringing it through State laws.

Dustin,

Thanks for the lucid correction of the distortion that the Supreme Court ruling in D.C. vs Heller was about allow guns in the home (and not elsewhere). Stale baloney ... and a full-letter mark-down on the homework & preparation grade for everyone using this bogus talking-point. Excellent pair of comments!
----

Guys, I'm off for a work-day on the trail - finally! Lots of other catch-up work, too, so will be working both sides, and will be home & on-line part-time. But, I see a monster high-pressure system has built over Alaska, giving them extreme cold ... and this air-mass is expected to move down over the lower-48 in the next 10 days. Along the coast here, that's how we usually get our big snow-dumps. Check ya'll tonight. Will go see your blog then, Dustin.

Dustin and Ted,

How can you blatantly ignore the very specific wording of the Supreme Court's written opinion in DC v. Heller?

Dear Warren:

You are correct in that the Heller opinion included language ruling that a ban on handguns in the home is unconstitutional.

However, it appears you need reminding that the opinion also included other "very specific wording", including the following (from page 19 of the ruling; emphases mine):

c. Meaning of the Operative Clause. Putting all of these textual elements together, we find that they guarantee the individual right to possess and carry weapons in case of confrontation. This meaning is strongly confirmed by the historical background of the Second Amendment. We look to this because it has always been widely understood that the Second Amendment, like the First and Fourth Amendments, codified a pre-existing right. The very text of the Second Amendment implicitly recognizes the pre-existence of the right and declares only that it “shall not be infringed.” As we said in United States v. Cruikshank, 92 U. S. 542, 553 (1876), “[t]his is not a right granted by the Constitution. Neither is it in any manner dependent upon that instrument for its existence. The Second amendment declares that it shall not be infringed . . . .”

So, in part you are correct, given words (page 64 of the opinion) such as "In sum, we hold that the District’s ban on handgun possession IN THE HOME violates the Second Amendment, as does its prohibition against rendering any lawful firearm IN THE HOME operable for the purpose of immediate self-defense. But taking the opinion as a whole, and including the words from page 19, you seem to be kicking a dead horse here.

Hello All, I have been reading the comments on this subject here for some time now. I hope my comments here don't sound like a wise guy, that is not my intention. I am just trying to understand. I am not anti gun, I own guns myself. I do not hunt anymore, I just enjoy target shooting. Myself, I don't feel the need to carry a concealed weapon in a Nat. Park or elsewhere. I have lived in some remote areas of Montana, Idaho and Minnesota and carried weapons and today I wonder why. I wasn't hunting and have a pretty good head about me while camping where bears, wolves, moose and other animals make their home, and have come across some rather strange people out there. I have been in the backcountry of many Nat. Parks, yet, I have not felt "I wish I had a gun that no one can see". I have read many comments on both sides of this thing and I'm not here to jump in on either side. It just seems like stubborness on the part of the pro carriers. I really haven't heard a good argument other than It's my right. That answer is too easy for me. I see the Nat. Parks as places for friends and families to enjoy what good ol' Mother Nature has given us. Let the people who are hired to protect the parks carry the weapons if necessary. So help me understand the need or right to carry a concealed weapon in a place where there are people other than the carriers family or friends. Accidents do happen and it doesn't seem fair to the others who do not carry these weapons. OK, I did get a bit on one side of this, sorry for that, but Someone give me something to help change that. Thanks for listening.

Warren Z wrote: "My life wasn't threatened, though I did suffer bodily harm.
But you know what? I never once thought "I wish I'd had a gun..." The gang that surrounded and attacked me did so swiftly, even efficiently. The lead pipe they used to break my arm and lacerate my scalp almost knocked me unconscious..."

Wow. Hit in the head with a lead pipe? Your definition of "life threatening" must be decidedly different than mine. And speaking for myself, I don't believe I have a moral or legal obligation to suffer head injuries and a broken arm to ensure the comfort and economic success of criminals.

I certainly don't think you need to exercise your First Amendment right by spouting such inane drivel. Obviously , we need to close that loophole in the free speech laws. See how that works...?

Ted: Thanks. I hope you enjoyed your day on the trail. :)

Eric: As beautifully explained in the DC vs Heller opinion, the 2nd Amendment doesn't create a right, it only affirms & protects a preexisting natural right from infringement. As such there really is no reason to explain why one might want to exercise that right. It would be like asking someone to explain why they would want to have free speech on the Internet when they can already have free speech in the newspaper letters to the editor section. We all have a right to free speech, so why would we need to explain? Each person should be allowed to choose for themselves whether they want to exercise that right on the Internet or to abstain from such exercise.

Just as a small side tangent - someone earlier posed the thought that because there are restrictions on free speech such as a prohibition on shouting "FIRE!" in a crowded theater, it is therefore reasonable to have restrictions on firearms. There actually are restrictions on the use of firearms - I am prohibited from pulling it out of my holster & aiming it at someone, or even showing it to someone in an effort to intimidate, much less shooting it at someone, unless very specific criteria are met to fit the legal requirements of a justified shooting, such as self defense for example. There are also specific restrictions on where I'm not prohibited from firing my weapon other than in self defense - for example in town I'm not allowed to fire my gun, nor within specific distances to buildings or city boundaries, etc. The right to keep & bear arms however, is not to be infringed.

OK, back to the question you asked. Although no reason need be given as justification for exercising a right, I will indulge your question from my own point of view. Although I always wear my seat belt while driving it doesn't mean I'm scared that I'm going to crash my car every time I get behind the wheel. Although I have smoke, heat, and carbon monoxide detectors in my home I don't have trouble sleeping at night wondering if my house is going to catch fire. I pay for home, auto, life, and health insurance not because I'm scared that I'll need them. I do these things to be prepared, not because I'm paranoid. If anything, being prepared allows me to relax, which is quite the opposite of being scared.

To anyone who wonders why I would carry my gun in a National Park I ask the question why not? Is there some fortune teller who can tell me exactly on what day & in what location I would need my gun? If such a thing were possible I would simply avoid going to that location on that particular day, and never have a need to carry a tool I could use for self defense.

Bear attack survivor John Shorter was glad he had his gun. Bear attack survivor Joshua McKim was glad he had his gun (as was his sister). Rabid Mountain Lion attack survivor Paul Schalow was glad his uncle had his gun. In fact, having a gun in a moment of great need has mattered to many people.

I'm not trying to say that these attacks are highly likely. However I am trying to say that if you suddenly were to find yourself in need of a self defense tool against predators of either the 2 or 4 legged type, your need will be vast, and it will be immediate. There will be no time in the hour of need to go shopping. Like the parable of the 10 virgins - you either are prepared with what you need, or you are not. How the story ends depends on ones level of preparedness if and when the hour of need arises. You could say that I prepare for the worst, but hope for the best.

I carry a gun around town because it is easier than carrying a cop. I carry a gun in the National Forest (and as of today in National Parks as well) because it is easier than carrying a Forest Ranger. In town when seconds count the Police are only minutes away. While out in the wide open space of God's Beautiful Country a Forest Ranger is likely many miles away, long out of ear shot. Even if you happen to be lucky enough to get a signal on your cell phone 911 would likely have difficulty determining where you are & how to get help out to you. Out in God's Country when seconds count you'd be lucky to have help in hours, much less minutes.

So finally, if for no other reason, I carry a gun because I've accepted the fact that I alone am responsible for the safety of myself & my family, not the Police, and not the Forest Rangers. They are available as a crime deterrent, and even to gather evidence or seek out the criminals after the event of a crime, but there is absolutely no way they can be in all places at all times to ensure everyone's safety. We'd all need our own Secret Service agents to have that level of protection which of course would be absurd.

As far as your question about concealed vs open carry - right now National Parks still prohibit open carry - the rule changes only allow concealed carry. I would be very much in favor of allowing open carry as well as concealed carry, but I'm happy to at least finally have concealed carry as an option rather than no option at all. The 2nd Amendment doesn't specify that we can only bear arms in the open, nor that we can only bear them concealed. If they had intended it to be specific they would have made it so - for example, the right to keep and bear concealed arms shall not be infringed, or the other way around.

As far as the choice of open carry vs concealed - the primary issue with open carry would be the loss of tactical advantage against a criminal who first scopes a scene (who would then obviously either decide to look for easier targets or decide to shoot the armed folks before they attack the unarmed folks). The other lesser issue with open carry is that some people have an irrational fear of firearms - the very sight of firearms makes them break out into a cold sweat & dial 911. Concealed carry lets people with that type of phobia go about their lives without having to know that there are armed folks in their midst on a daily basis, which lack of knowledge helps them stay at ease while they sip their hot cup of Java.

I hope that I have been some level of assistance to you Eric, if nothing else to perhaps give you a little food for thought. Deciding whether or not to carry a gun is a very personal decision, one that each of us needs to make on our own for our own personal reasons. Have a great weekend :)

First of all free men and women have the right to keep and bear arms. Bear arms means exactly that, to carry on their person. There is no logical reason that National Parks should restrict that right as that lawful citizens are are not committing crimes in National Parks. The main impetus was against vandalism and poachers. CCW holders have a better record than even the police in not comitting crimes. There is no reason to suppose that CCW holders will suddenly feel required to shoot at animals or signs or even people. There are already laws against poaching and vandalism and shooting against people so a law restricting guns in parks is unecessary.

Furthermore, there are National Parks in the Southeast that many researchers are told not to visit due to the lawlessness and the drug labs. Large areas of Oregon and Washington National Parks have acreages of marijuana farms. Rangers are considered more at risk than FBI agents due to increase crime.

The main reason this regulation was changed is that many CCW people cross National Park land every day on the roads and unless they stop and unload and secure weapon and ammo they are committing a felony. Laws should not be created that make people who are othewise lawabiding commit a felony. The idea of laws is not to make lawabiding people to be criminals because of a regulation that is hard not to break going about their business innocently without ill intent.

So to all that are scared of this change in regulation it simply a step back to pre 1976 when carrying guns in National Parks were allowed. This simply make it easier for CCW holders to cross park lands in a car not to break a law inadvertantly.

There is no reason to presume that CCW holders will suddenly feel the urge to shoot in a National Park when they don't in the store or movie theater. This unreasonable fear that a gun has the ability to create homicidal urges in otherwise law abiding is ridiculous. Criminals are criminalbecasue the choose to break laws and those criminal will carry anyway like they do in cities. This allows the non criminals to also carry.

The only thing that stops a bad man with a gun is a good man with a gun whether a cop or a normal citizen.

RAH, it is better when you come to an argument that you are possessed with the facts. The regulation in place in 1976 was simply another of several change in existing regulations that had existed since the 1930's prohibiting loaded firearms in parks. One could fairly say that change weakened the existing regulations in place at the time - something you won't read in a NRA publication by the way.

Also, possessing a loaded firearm in a National Park area is not, nor has it ever been, a felony, unless some other aggravating factor wholly unrelated to the administration of the National Park service is involved.

It'll hurt the wildlife, it'll increase the danger. Where are the facts tio back these claims up? As usual anti-gun people make statements claiming that their opinions are facts. The actual facts are that incredibly few CCW permit holders ever do ANYTHING that violates any gun use laws. The extremely few times CCW permit holders (as in a small fraction of a percent) who lose their permits turn out to involve are cases of carrying a gun in a place (such as an airport) where guns are forbidden, not cases of actually doing anything wrong with a gun, and these cases are almost always a case of an error of some kind. But error or not, the permit gets revoked.
Anti-gun folks would have everyone believe that any idiot who wants to can carry a concealed weapon, and that all the people are somehow dangerous. If this is the case, why did violent crime, especially gun crime, not go up in states where "will issue" laws were passed, suddenly allowing thousands of honest citizens to carry firearms, over the past couple of decades?

Why did the shooter in Binghamton, NY block the rear door of the building before entering through the front? Because he was in NY State, which, excepting the 2 states that allow essentially NO citizen to carry a handgun, has the toughest handgun control laws in the country. In NY State you have to get a permit to even own a handgun, let alone to ever carry it anywhere. And because issuing a permit is left totally up to the discretion of the head of the police agency that has jurisdiction (he decides whether someone's reason is good enough or not, with no rules in the law for making that decision), permits are most often impossible to get unless you work as an armed guard. The guy locked everyone in the building because he knew for a fact that, unless an off duty police officer was visiting the place, he would be the only person in that building who was armed.

If there was some way to suddenly eliminate all of the firearms in the country, not even the police would have to be armed. But it is not possible to do that. The result is that gun "control" laws only control the use of guns by honest citizens. There are too many guns in circulation to keep them away from crooks by taking away all the guns honest folks have. There is no way to confiscate all of the guns in dishonest hands. And, unfortunately, no robber, murderer, or other persdonm planning on committing a felony worries for even one second about some piddly gun control violation.

Perhaps of the government started enforcing the existing laws, for example by prosecuting felons who attempt to buy guns, some gun "control" laws might have an effect. Unfortunately, the government for some reason does not bother doing things like that. I sure wish I knew why that is.

The reason most of use choose to conceal and carry guns is for self-protection. Like Uncle Lar notes above, violent crimes sadly DO occur in our national parks. If you don't want to carry a gun to protect yourself or your loved ones that is certainly your right. As for me, I hope I never have to use it, but I like having the "insurance policy" that my gun--and my training--provides me.