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House Seals Deal To Allow Wide Range of Firearms into The National Park System

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Thanks to a brilliant tactical move, gun rights advocates are a step closer to arming themselves in national parks and national wildlife refuges across the country following a U.S. House of Representatives' vote on a credit card bill.

By attaching the gun legislation to the widely popular bill that would redefine the ground rules for credit card companies, Congress essentially made the firearms provision bulletproof. The House passed the measure, which earlier this week cleared the Senate, on a vote of 279-147 Wednesday, and sent it on to President Obama, who is expected to sign the legislation into law this weekend.

Condemnation of Congress's move came quickly from park advocacy groups.

Theresa Pierno, Executive Vice President, National Parks Conservation Association

“We are disappointed in the members of the House and Senate who allowed this amendment to pass, as well as in President Obama. By not taking a stand to prevent this change, they have sacrificed public safety and national park resources in favor of the political agenda of the National Rifle Association. This amendment had no hearing or review, and will increase the risk of poaching, vandalism of historic park treasures, and threats to park visitors and staff.”

“These are special protected places, where millions of American families and international visitors can view magnificent animals and majestic landscapes and experience our nation’s history, including sites where lives were lost to preserve our American ideals.

“The Reagan Administration’s regulation requiring simply requires that guns carried into these iconic places be unloaded and put away is a time-tested, limited and reasonable restriction to carry out an important and legitimate goal of protecting and respecting our national parks, monuments and battlefields. It is a tremendously sad day that it has been thrown out by political leaders from whom we expect more.”

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

“Passage of this legislation that would allow firearms of all kinds in national parks is an absolute travesty. There is simply no need for it, given the extremely low risks that visitors face in national parks compared with everywhere else.

"Legislators who voted for this amendment now have to live with the fact that they have, in fact, increased the risk to visitors and employees, as well as the risk to wildlife and some cultural resources. Moreover, they've just contributed to diminishing the specialness of this country's National Park System. We hope the American people register their disappointment in the actions of these legislators.”

Scot McElveen, President, Association of National Park Rangers

“Members of the ANPR respect the will of Congress and their authority to pass laws, but we believe this is a fundamental reversal from what preceding Congresses created the National Park System for. Park wildlife, including some rare or endangered species, will face increased threats by visitors with firearms who engage in impulse or opportunistic shooting.”

John Waterman, President, U.S. Park Rangers Lodge, Fraternal Order of Police

“One should ask, what do guns have to do with credit cards? We are disappointed that Congress chose to disregard the safety of U.S. Park Rangers, the most assaulted federal officers, and forgo the environmental process set up to assure the protection of our national parks. If signed by President Obama, this will clearly be a change in his rhetoric towards taking better care of our environment and protecting federal employees."

Comments

Re: Kurt Repanshek.

Frank, I knew you wouldn't disappoint me. So let me walk you through my thinking.

I had not intended to get into this one but some of your comments just demand a response. So…

Whether firearms are needed in the park, openly carried or concealed, is a non issue. NPS must comply with the laws of the land. This is about individual rights and has nothing do with crime or what’s her name not feeling safe or the ranger doesn’t like it. Open carry, concealed carry, or no carry- just a simple choice requiring no further justification. Whatever crime statistics or however many people don’t like it, not withstanding. Any other opinion now has no meaning.

This new law is nothing special, anymore than the recent Supreme Court ruling, District of Columbia Et al. v. Heller (2009). There are many previous Supreme Court rulings relating to this issue. Just to citing the most notable ones-

U.S. v. Cruikshank (1876) was the first Second Amendment case to reach the Supreme Court. The Court recognized that the right to arms is an individual right. The Court said in Cruikshank v. U.S. that the Second Amendment protects a right which existed even before the Constitution was written. The right to arms "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."

By the way, they said the same thing about the First Amendment, the Court considered these rights pre-existing, thus they are not granted by the Constitution. Even if removed from the Constitution these rights will still exist!

Beard v. U.S. (1895) The court approved the common-law rule that a person "may repel force by force" in self-defense, and concluded that, when attacked, a person "was entitled to stand his ground and meet any attack made upon him with a deadly weapon, in such a way and with such force" as needed to prevent "great bodily injury or death."

Warren v. District of Columbia, 444 A.2d 1(1981 ) The Police And Personal Protection Police are under no legal obligation to provide protection for any individual. Courts have ruled the police have an obligation only to society as a whole.

U.S. V. Verdugo-Urquidez (1990) The Supreme Court observed in U.S. v. Verdugo-Urquidez (1990) "`the people` seems to have been a term of art employed in select parts of the Constitution. The Preamble declares that the Constitution is ordained and established by `the People of the United States.` The Second Amendment protects `the right of the people to keep and bear Arms,` and the Ninth and Tenth Amendments provide that certain rights and powers are retained by and reserved to `the people.`"

Perpich v. Dept. of Defense, (1990). The National Guard is subject to absolute federal control When federalized, it is not part of the militia. At other times, it is the "organized militia." At all times, the "unorganized militia" consists of other able-bodied males of age and certain other citizens.

For those of you who do not know what the militia truly is see the US Code, Title 10, Subtitle A, Part 1, Chapter 13, Section 311.

U.S. v. Emerson (2001), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit said the Second Amendment protects an individual right to arms, with "limited, narrowly tailored specific exceptions . . . not inconsistent with the right of Americans generally to individually keep and bear their private arms as historically understood in this country."

On at least two occasions in recent years the U.S. Supreme Court has invoked the Tenth Amendment to strike down federal "gun control" schemes, suggesting strong limitations on the authority of the federal government to restrict the possession and use of arms. Congress has no enumerated power to restrict the right to arms, and therefore has regulated firearms through its interstate commerce and taxing powers only.

In the Gun Control Act (1968) and Firearms Owners' Protection Act (1986), Congress stated that it did not intend to "place any undue or unnecessary Federal restrictions or burdens on law-abiding citizens with respect to the acquisition, possession, or use of firearms appropriate to . . . personal protection, or any other lawful activity."

I believe that covers whether or not I can have a weapon fairly well.

As for the concealed carry part. Your stats are from 2004, they have gone up considerably so I wouldn’t make book on that double digit statement. Unfortunately there is no federal CCW at this time. In order to get the stats you will need to visit the web page of each state police organization and look in the CCW section to get both the number of licenses and the crime rate for CCW holders for states with CCW. Then you can compare that against the FBI UCR for the state as a whole. You’ll find that the crime rate for CCW holders is insignificant by comparison.

Currently 46 states and the District of Columbia have CCW. Alaska and Vermont allow open or concealed carry only requiring that you be able to legally own a firearm. Illinois and Wisconsin are the only non CCW states. 36 states are “shall issue states.” In the past 25 years at least 20 states enacted their CCW status by popular referendum, so at least 51 percent of the voters in those states voted in favor of CCW. 16 states enacted their CCW by state congressional act. That’s the majority of voters and represented voters in 36 states. I believe that’s enough voters to get an Amendment added to the Constitution.

As for the VPR Cal study, I believe that’s already been suitably disposed of, but I’ll try to run through quickly.

Up front the study does not track age groups or socioeconomic groups. Comparing 691 people form Sacramento County, a relatively densely populated area over a period of 3 year to 965 people spread over the state, including very sparsely populated areas, over a period of 2 years. Note that to extrapolate numbers here that is approximately equally weighted. Therefore we could say that CCW holders in Sacramento County are more prone to violent crimes that the rest of the state by a factor of 3. That being said, here’s an interesting thought. If you accidentally ran over a pedestrian as you were rushing to get into the park and he later died then that would be a violent crime. Negligent homicide or vehicular manslaughter, although for NPS reporting purposes that comes under the heading of murder. Or if you and I met for drinks inside the Beltway later and during the course of our heated discussions you struck me with a beer bottle that would be a violent crime also, aggravated assault. Point- no firearm is required. So, let take a look at the numbers.

A projected violent crime rate of 291 per 100,000 man-years for 691 people over a period of 3 years. If I did the math correctly that would mean that extrapolated out 1 of these people would need to commit a violent crime of some type each year for next 345 years. Why not a 144 years? Because that person will have his CCW revoked and each year there will be 1 less person. Once they reach 300 years of age I’m thinking they re going to be pretty sedate, not causing much trouble anymore. So, how else could we get there?

How about this, how many violent crimes would need to be committed annually by 691 over a period of 3 years to extrapolate out to 291 per 100,000 man-years. Answer 2 per year. That would be a crime rate of 0.3 per cent annually… so this group of 691 people, while more prone to violent crime than the rest of the state at 0.1 per cent, statistically is still many times below the crime rate percentage of the state as a whole. I think I know why this study is “Statistically Insignificant” but check my math anyway, I did it rather quickly.

I prefer more meaningful studies without as much of an agenda. The type that states the methodology, contains their empirical data and analyses the potential for errors and flawed assumptions using multiple models. These are some very good sources, National Crime Victimization Survey, the Uniform Crime Reports, and the National Incident-Based Reporting System and the National Violent Death Reporting System. The National Crime Victimization Survey is an ongoing annual survey conducted by the Department of Justice that collects information from nearly 100,000 non-institutionalized adults from more 50,000 households every year. It is the largest and oldest of the crime studies. I have found over the years that cherry picking intell gets people hurt badly. You asked about other and bigger studies, take a look at these- I trust you will not consider these as cherry picking-

National Research Council, "Firearms and Violence: A Critical Review," National Academies Press, 2005 , http://books.nap.edu/books/0309091241/html/index.html

Roth, Koper, et al., Impact Evaluation of the Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act of 1994, March 13, 1997, www.urban.org/url.cfm?ID=406797

Reedy and Koper, "Impact of handgun types on gun assault outcomes: a comparison of gun assaults involving semiautomatic pistols and revolvers," Injury Prevention 2003, http://ip.bmjjournals.com/cgi/reprint/9/2/151

Koper et al., Report to the National Institute of Justice, An Updated Assessment of the Federal Assault Weapons Ban: Impacts on Gun Markets and Gun Violence, 1994-2003, June 2004, www.sas.upenn.edu/jerrylee/jlc-new/Research/Koper_aw_final.pdf

Wm. J. Krouse, Congressional Research Service Report for Congress, "Semiautomatic Assault Weapons Ban," Dec. 16, 2004; Library of Congress, Report for Congress: Firearms Regulations in Various Foreign Countries, May 1998, LL98-3, 97-2010; Task Force on Community Preventive Service, "First Reports Evaluating the Effectiveness of Strategies for Preventing Violence: Firearms Laws," Morbidity and Mortaility Weekly Report, Oct. 3, 2003, www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/rr5214a2.htm

BATFE, Annual Firearm Manufacturers and Export Reports, www.atf.gov/firearms/stats/index.htm.

BATFE estimated 215 million guns in 1999 (Crime Gun Trace Reports, 1999, National Report, Nov. 2000, p. ix , www.atf.gov/firearms/ycgii/1999/index.htm)

The National Academy of Sciences estimated 258 million (National Research Council, Firearms and Violence: A Critical Review, National Academies Press, 2005). The Bureau of Justice Statistics reports 72 million approved new and used firearm transactions by firearm dealers through the National Instant Check System between 1999-2007 ("Background Checks for Firearm Transfers, 2007," www.ojp.usdoj.gov./bjs/pub/html/bcft/2007/table/bcft07st01.htm

FBI http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/cius2007/data/table_04.html

Bureau of Justice Statistics, http://bjsdata.ojp.usdoj.gov/dataonline/. RTC comparison based on data in the FBI table.

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be." ---Thomas Jefferson, 1816.

And now I’m done with both of these topics!


Reasonable restrictions in Heller were felons such as the restriction that were listed back in the 1700's .Carry was defined in Heller and the NPS regulations did violate the keep part of the 2A. Heller recognized a preexisting right to keep and bear arms. Bear meant to carry , the Heller Supreme Ct decision actually explored that definition and how many time keep and carry were listed regarding arms in the colonial times.

I suggest you read the Heller decesion carefully again. Reasonable does not mean to ban firearms as DC did regarding handguns. Plus NF and BLM allows handguns according to state law.

As a citizien I have the right to own and use arms for lawful purposes. If I can not carry a handgun then I can not use one for lawful pupose of self defense, That violate the purpose of the 2A. Now this decision did not get into the arguement for or against carry handgins in DC.The first step had to be declared that DC was in violation since they banned handguns and it was impossible to even register a handgun.

Mr Heller did not request to carry but just the right to posess a handgun and to be able to register a handgun, That is why the registration was left in place since Heller did not argue against the registration. Many states do not have registration and that has not been declared allowed or not alllowed under the 2A. The are new cases against the registration that may or may not get to the Supreme Ct.

Besides It is the law that NPS has to allow lawful carry as per the state laws. Tha law was signed on Friday by the President. It was voted in by a majority of the Senate and House. This will not effect any Dc parks since currently lawful carry by citizens except police is still banned. Also guns are not allowed in facilities under another regulation. At this time that is not being contested.


If 281 fugitives choose to hide out in the USPP areas makes you wonder how many fugitives may be hiding out in the other areas, doesn’t it?

No, it doesn't. USPP officers are based primarily, if not entirely, in the Washington metropolitan area, where the largest contingent of Park Police is located; in Gateway National Recreation Area in New York City; and in Golden Gate National Recreation Area in the city of San Francisco, California. These are all large metropolitan areas with crime rates far more significant than exist in other areas where the NPS operates.

In more than a few instances these officers go outside NPS units to assist local authorities:

* Members are frequently detailed to local and Federal task forces created to combat specific types of crimes.

* Operating primarily in the District of Columbia and 10 surrounding counties in Maryland and Virginia, this Unit targets the heads of mid-level street distribution organizations and wholesalers. The Unit also targets prostitution, open-air drug markets, and assists investigations in drug-related homicide cases.

* Since 1985 the U.S. Park Police has been involved in the seizure and forfeiture of assets that have facilitated the illegal trafficking of drugs, represented the proceeds of such activity, are involved in any number of money-laundering violations, or are a combination of all three. In 1991, the U.S. Park Police became the only U.S. Department of the Interior entity to be recognized by the Department of Justice as a "Department Component" in its Asset Forfeiture Program.

Even if the fugitives are arrested within NPS units in these cities, the settings are entirely unrelated to those found in Yellowstone, Yosemite, the Grand Canyon, Great Smoky Mountains, Acadia, etc, etc, etc.

To imply that the entire National Park System has crime rates equivalent to those found in New York City, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C., and to drop a murder tally on the national parks without noting that in more than a few cases these murders 1) occurred outside the park in which the bodies were dumped, 2) involved domestic disputes, or 3) were murder-suicides, seems to be little more than fear-mongering.

And please don't misunderstand: I'm not saying crimes are not committed in national parks. And I think the data you offer merits further investigation. But it also needs to be placed in its proper context.


Re: Kurt Repanshek.

you failed to complete the sentence from the report, which added that those numbers were compiled from "crimes committed on park lands and adjacent areas and captured 281 fugitives and wanted persons. (my emphasis).

I left the statements incomplete and provided the link simply because I assume any interested party will take the time to review. That being said there was no reason for me to continue the point. However, since you feel the need to further examine them let us see what meaning we can put to them.

1) If these numbers are correct then NPS is making essentially true and supportable statements used in their FY accountability report that is taken into consideration by congressional budget committees, otherwise… big trouble!
2) FBI, DEA, US Marshall et al do not handle speeding tickets or disorderly conduct. Therefore arrests made by NPS personnel included all of the non Part 1 crimes also, so no direct correlation to clearing rates.
3) NPS only reports felonies that were not turned over to other jurisdictional authorities to be investigated and reported by that jurisdictional authority.
4) Operations are in some very metropolitan areas as well as rural areas. Therefore the breakdown of felonies versus non felonies will be very close to the general area. The FBI Unified Crime Report statistical rates should be applicable for any given city, state, or regional area across the country. More especially considering the shear depth of these records.
5) NPS reported officially they handled a total of 5,992 felonies including a 24 murders and 299 aggravated assaults. Since the park rangers handled 4,400; 15; and 299 that means USPP had 1,592 felonies including 9 murders and 141 aggravated assaults in additional to the fugitives and wanted persons.

If 281 fugitives choose to hide out in the USPP areas makes you wonder how many fugitives may be hiding out in the other areas, doesn’t it?

Given that the Office of the Inspector General’s annual reports from 1981 to current addressing this issue conclude that the NPS stats are under reported what we are really engaged in here? Answer, an exercise to approximate the degree and since the IG say that USPP has been making significant progress in the last few years I am only going to do the bigger number here. Plus, we can assume the park rangers didn’t “go to town” to find crime.

Re.: “park rangers reported more than 74,000 offenses with 20,000 arrests in 1996, you dropped the following sentence that noted that of those totals, 4,400 were felonies, "including 15 murders and 158 aggravated assaults."

Based on 74,000 offenses that would statistically imply 27,000 felonies of which NPS handled 4,400 leaving 22,600 felonies reported and investigated by FBI et al. NPS did not report and turned over to other agencies an estimated 22,600 felonies. If these felonies have any direct relation to the NPS supplied ratios 15/4400 and 158/4400 would imply that NPS turned over to other agencies felonies including 77 murders and 811 aggravated assaults for deposition by those agencies. That data would then be collected into the UCR for the region and not show up in official NPS felony statistic, showing up only in the accountability reports at budget time. This tells me that someone at NPS is tasked with keeping these other data strictly for non crime related purposes... maybe funding requests? Sure would like to see that file.

Based on the foregoing the effective crime rate would be off for Part 1 crimes, or felonies if you prefer, by a factor of about 9. Using the highly touted crime index number of 1.65 and DOI’s last report of 14.5… 14.5/1.65 equals 8.78. Well, I am satisfied with my analysis here as being reasonably accurate.

The other question here is “How understated are the meager data NPS has presented?” Based on the IG report USPP is working on it and making progress. However, their Part 1 crime rate is increasing when the rest of the country’s crime rate is decreasing. See DOJ/FBI “ Preliminary Semiannual Crime Report”, http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/2008prelim/table_1.html#top, for 2008. That begs a simple question- how can that be?

Whether off by a little or a lot the point that is important here is this. Loud noise and emotional ploys rarely get funded or anything else except blow off as an irritant. NPS current budget is 2.5 billion dollars. Their ongoing costs are 2.1 billion and operating cost is 400 million. Anyone heard of a report by The Ranger Lodge titled "The Ten Most Dangerous National Parks." If you looked at some of the budget reports you would have realized that the budget committee has taken away 30 plus million dollars from the NPS operating budget one year because of this very type of nonsense. On the other hand some individual parks (see that Ranger Lodge report for clues) received several million dollars additional funding just for security and law enforcement that year. Those parks did not have to divert other park operating funds to security and LE as some parks had to do.

With this pending law going into effect in nine months now would be a great time to get this new administration, congress, and the states behind putting NPS on FBI UCR properly. A simple executive order is all it would take. NPS crime stats should be handled just like the rest of the country. We would know the answers to all the discussed questions. When it comes budget time LE funds, assets, and resources could be allocated where they are needed. Park managers would not need to divert other program funds to security and LE efforts in their parks. That’s a win-win situation.

This new law is a done deal! If we can get some people over their own rhetoric of a 1.65 crime rate and no problem mentality this could be good all the way round. I have covered this with the officials I know and made my case there. I have other things on my agenda I’d like to see accomplished in my lifetime. Therefore, I am done with this topic here. If interested or concerned enough, there are other email addresses that can be written to. So, what are you going to do now?


RAH -
The existing NPS regulations could be viewed as reasonable restrictions on the right to bear arms. You can argue that it was in violation of the 2nd Amendment, but that was never proven in court. Heller, while an extremely important case, was not on point regarding the NPS regulation. In fact, if you read the decision, the Supreme Court notes that some reasonable restrictions are constitutional. You may believe that the department or the agency should have shared your perspective on this issue, but that is a far cry from them declaring themselves sovreign and not subject to the Constitution.

In regards to the implementation of the new law, there is little choice in the matter, since the law itself says: "This Act and the amendments made by this Act shall become effective 9 months after the date of enactment of this Act, except as otherwise specifically provided in this Act." Since there was no specific provision for an earlier enactment of Section 512, dealing with guns in parks and refuges, it is effective in 9 months, as directed by Congress. It is not up to the agency or the Department.

You offer no evidence for the assertion that "NPS has been reluctant to instigate the change, thinking they were special". You might be able to cite a chronology of events to support the former, but I would challenge you to prove the phrase "thinking they were special".

Your arguments would be better supported by better facts, logic, and spelling.


The NPS had a regulation restricting carry in violation of the 2nd amendment. They were active in trying to avoid the change in regulations and they are now delaying implementation for 9 months. So yes, I believe that most of the NPS believes they have sovereign rights to create their own regulations and it did not matter that it violated the consitution. They are part of DOI under the executive branch and have to abide by Constitution restrictions like all other agencies. Once Heller was decided in the affirmnative all agencies should have started thinking about the consequences of regulations that restrict the 2A. NPS regulations have been under review because of the problems that CCW holders had in crossing NPS roads and territory oy commutterspn their way to work. Since more people are exercisingtheir 2A rights, any regulation that contravenes that right should be rethought. NPS has been reluctant to instigate the change, thinking they were special. NPS lands are special but the regulations are not There is no reason to restrict the rights of American within NPS lands and that includes carry of handguns.

All the arguemnents have been red herrings. Poaching, vandalism, rckles shooting are all still prohibited.
Now residents will have the right retored to carry in the backcountry or carry concealed if they have a permit.


A lot people just don't get it. There's no excpetion to gun rights in the 2nd Amendment. It doesn't say "you an own or carry a gun everywhere except on NPS land." You left-wing nuts think you can ignore the law whenever it suits your fancy. Newsflash: these wild lands were tamed and explored by people with guns. Guns are what kept (and still keep) people from getting killed from wild animals and criminals. Amount of crime in parks, etc is all a red herring. This about the law and NPS rules violated the law. If you think you are Jet Li or some sort of wizard and can defend yourself from grizzlies and killers with a twig, have at it. The rest of will return to common sense, which is the law of the land.


RAH, just to set the record straight, the NPS has not acted like a "sovereign entity" on this issue. It does what Congress or the administration tells it to do.


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