Senate Loads Credit Card Bill With Amendment to Allow Loaded Weapons in National Parks

The U.S. Senate, which struggles mightily with topics such as health care, education, and balanced budgets, had no troubles Tuesday amending a credit card bill of all things with a measure to allow concealed weapons to be toted about national parks and wildlife refuges.

On an easy vote of 67-29 the senators tacked on the amendment, sponsored by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Oklahoma, to a bill concerning how many fees credit card companies can charge you. If opponents to concealed carry in national parks are right, the senators might not have realized what they were doing.

"Senator Coburn’s amendment to the Credit Cardholders Bill of Rights Act of 2009 would allow individuals to openly carry rifles, shotguns, and semi-automatic weapons in national parks if the firearm is in compliance with State law," the National Parks Conservation Association, Coalition of National Park Service Retirees, Association of National Park Rangers, and the U.S. Park Rangers Lodge, Fraternal Order of Police, said in a letter sent to the Senate prior to the vote.

"As a result, individuals could attend ranger-led hikes and campfire programs with their rifles at Yellowstone National Park, Shenandoah National Park, Grand Canyon National Park, and other national park treasures across the country."

In passing the amendment, it perhaps could be said that the senators viewed themselves as being above the law. Earlier this year a federal judge blocked a somewhat similar gun regulation from remaining in effect, saying the Interior Department had failed to conduct the obligatory National Environmental Policy Act reviews before approving the regulation. The irony, of course, is that Congress passed NEPA, and now the Senate is thumbing its collective nose at it.

The measure has a way to go before it can become law. The credit-card legislation needs to pass the Senate and gain approval in the House of Representatives, and then President Obama must sign it into law.

Here's how the senators voted on the amendment:

Alabama

Sessions (R) Yes; Shelby (R) Yes.

Alaska

Begich (D) Yes; Murkowski (R) Yes.

Arizona

Kyl (R) Yes; McCain (R) Yes.

Arkansas

Lincoln (D) Yes; Pryor (D) Yes.

California

Boxer (D) No; Feinstein (D) No.

Colorado

Bennet (D) Yes; Udall (D) Yes.

Connecticut

Dodd (D) No; Lieberman (I) No.

Delaware

Carper (D) No; Kaufman (D) No.

Florida

Martinez (R) Yes; Nelson (D) Yes.

Georgia

Chambliss (R) Yes; Isakson (R) Yes.

Hawaii

Akaka (D) No; Inouye (D) No.

Idaho

Crapo (R) Yes; Risch (R) Yes.

Illinois

Burris (D) No; Durbin (D) No.

Indiana

Bayh (D) Yes; Lugar (R) Yes.

Iowa

Grassley (R) Yes; Harkin (D) No.

Kansas

Brownback (R) Yes; Roberts (R) Yes.

Kentucky

Bunning (R) Yes; McConnell (R) Yes.

Louisiana

Landrieu (D) Yes; Vitter (R) Yes.

Maine

Collins (R) Yes; Snowe (R) Yes.

Maryland

Cardin (D) No; Mikulski (D) Not Voting.

Massachusetts

Kennedy (D) Not Voting; Kerry (D) No.

Michigan

Levin (D) No; Stabenow (D) No.

Minnesota

Klobuchar (D) Yes.

Mississippi

Cochran (R) Yes; Wicker (R) Yes.

Missouri

Bond (R) Yes; McCaskill (D) No.

Montana

Baucus (D) Yes; Tester (D) Yes.

Nebraska

Johanns (R) Yes; Nelson (D) Yes.

Nevada

Ensign (R) Yes; Reid (D) Yes.

New Hampshire

Gregg (R) Yes; Shaheen (D) Yes.

New Jersey

Lautenberg (D) No; Menendez (D) No.

New Mexico

Bingaman (D) No; Udall (D) No.

New York

Gillibrand (D) No; Schumer (D) No.

North Carolina

Burr (R) Yes; Hagan (D) Yes.

North Dakota

Conrad (D) Yes; Dorgan (D) Yes.

Ohio

Brown (D) No; Voinovich (R) Yes.

Oklahoma

Coburn (R) Yes; Inhofe (R) Yes.

Oregon

Merkley (D) Yes; Wyden (D) Yes.

Pennsylvania

Casey (D) Yes; Specter (D) Yes.

Rhode Island

Reed (D) No; Whitehouse (D) No.

South Carolina

DeMint (R) Yes; Graham (R) Yes.

South Dakota

Johnson (D) No; Thune (R) Yes.

Tennessee

Alexander (R) No; Corker (R) Yes.

Texas

Cornyn (R) Yes; Hutchison (R) Yes.

Utah

Bennett (R) Yes; Hatch (R) Yes.

Vermont

Leahy (D) Yes; Sanders (I) Yes.

Virginia

Warner (D) Yes; Webb (D) Yes.

Washington

Cantwell (D) No; Murray (D) No.

West Virginia

Byrd (D) Yes; Rockefeller (D) Not Voting.

Wisconsin

Feingold (D) Yes; Kohl (D) Yes.

Wyoming

Barrasso (R) Yes; Enzi (R) Yes.

Comments

It's about time the legislaters passed this. As a retired Law Enforcement officer of 27 years I know how much safer your family will be. You cannot always count on a Ranger or Park official being around when needed. Especially with todays economy and budget cuts. Carrying a rifle on a ranger led hike or campfire is ridiculous. It's about carrying a handgun the same as many people do in a responsible way in just about every state in America now.

Well, I certainly WON'T feel as safe on hikes now............I will face the dangers of nature over the dangers of man anytime !

I hate the fact that a congressman can slip a totally unrelated item into a bill that is going to almost surely pass. It is time this was changed.

Just what we need: a bunch of violence-predisposed people carrying guns in our national parks, which historically are among the safest places in the entire country. Facts clearly indicate there is no need for this. As the previous person wrote, I will feel much less safe if this becomes law. I have no problem with responsible gun owners. But the reality is I am far, far more likely to encounter an IRRESPONSIBLE gun owner (of whom there are legion, based on the daily stories of previously "law-abiding citizens" who decided to shoot someone for no reason) than I am to encounter a bear or other danger requiring a firearm. There simply aren't many cases where you'd need a gun in a national park, and I'd much rather take my chances with the wildlife than shoot-first-ask-questions-later gun lovers. If the good Senator Coburn is so eager to have the entire nation armed at all times, when is he going to push a law that allows tourists to carry guns into the Senate?

The park I visit the most has a lot of children's programs and school programs. Imagine the scene: a group of children are attending a school program in the park and standing next to them are people with rifles and shotguns. Do Senators really want this?

The most ignorant statement I've read in a while: ""As a result, individuals could attend ranger-led hikes and campfire programs with their rifles at Yellowstone National Park, Shenandoah National Park, Grand Canyon National Park, and other national park treasures across the country."

You will find very few conceal carry permit holders displaying a weapon and will never see a rifle. Folks, I would be more concerned with the non-conceal carry people that already carry firearm's into national parks. Suicidal people and wanted felons are a fine example of the non-conceal gun toters that already flock to our national park.

I hate the fact that a congressman can slip a totally unrelated item into a bill that is going to almost surely pass. It is time this was changed.

That is unless it is something you approve of, like money for acquiring park land that has been tacked onto a highway bill. It seems that outrage at the appropriations system is reserved for what we disapprove of, but when this same corrupt and inept process produces results we like many tend to exclaim that "well a win is a win even if it had to get done through the backdoor of an unrelated bill". The ends suddenly seem to justify the means when you're winning.

The loathsome pirates in DC love nothing better than to divide and conquer us by using their ill-gotten booty to keep us fighting each other over who gets a slice of what. That's democracy in action. The Founding Fathers didn't define this sort of government as mob rule for nothing.

Why is that an ignorant statement? Why wouldn't people with rifles carry them on programs? People with rifles are common (and legal) in national forests and BLM land - many that border national parks. Now, they can simply continue to bring them into the park and on hikes, trails, campfire programs, and the like. I understand that not everyone who owns a gun is a nut, but at least now, if someone shows up at a children's program with a gun, the NPS can take action to protect children. If this law passes, the person with the rifle at the program is doing nothing wrong until he starts firing. Then it's too late.

John Lison

I volunteer with the NPS and I have spent the last two summers and am now in a NPS campground. I keep my own weapon unloaded and locked up in my RV even though only my dog is there when I'm not. I just cannot imagine why anyone would feel so threatened so as to want a loaded gun in a National Park. But I am feeling threatened if some of the nuts that are out there are allowed to carry CONCEALED weapons into the Parks. If the NRA and gunfreaks have to have weapons I hope that they will amend this bill to require the weapons be carried prominently and on display, maybe with big signs that say something like" I'm scared of the squirrels and bears so I carry a 44 magnum" Steer clear of me!

If some bozo shows up at one of my talks, armed to the hilt , I'm gone. I'm a volunteer and don't intend to be a willing target of these nutcases. Let them shoot each other in some secluded spot of the Park. I don't want criticism of my fireside talks puncuateted by lead if somebody doesn't like what I say.

Then I wonder about the effect on all those darling kids who come to our Parks and upon whose faces I regularly see smiles of great wonderment and delight at our Parks when they spot a Rambo wannabe trooping around with a AK-47 (modified to be legal of course). Give it a rest gun guys. Call off the dogs and let this dog die the death it deserves.

Sorry John, but nuts are ALREADY carrying concealed weapons in parks. What's being missed here is that we are talking about "concealed carry". The over inflated comments about carrying rifles on hikes is a joke. I wonder how many relatives of the students killed in the University of Virginia shootings had wished that concealed carry permits were allowed on campus.

Come on and use common sense. The most common reason to carry a rifle slung is for hunting or predator control and that is not allowed on NPS land. Most people do not want to carry extra weight without a good cause. There is a big differnce between a handgun and a rifle. For those who carry concealed for defense regulary will carry concealed everywher becase that is habit. carrying a ridle unless in battle i snot a habit for people in the US. The big reason that the military went to carbines is weight. A rif;e will wigh more and a pain to carry all the time.

The only reason I could see for a person to carry a rifle is to cause PSH in all the other nambies for pure shock value. That is rude and but gets irrestible the more we hear that CCW holders are criminaly minded as an JIm D said that CCW holders are violantly disposed without any evidence. Just pure slander.

Don't overlook the fact that more than a few national parks are surrounded by national forests, where hunting is allowed. If indeed Sen. Coburn's amendment would allow the carrying of rifles in parks, would hunters look to some park campgrounds as base camps they could use for heading off into sections of national forest that are not otherwise easily reached?

Anonymous -

Though it is true that the original rule spoke ONLY to "concealed" carry, Senator Coburn's amendment makes NO SUCH DISTINCTION according to the version I read this morning. It is simply "carry."

It is amazing that Senators are above the law when they are the lawmakers and that is what they were doing. I understand disagreement with the law change but to declare they are acting above the law is silly. A judge does not make law. The judge was going by the law and if the lawmakers agree that that is not the policy they wanted they can change the law.

I agree that less law is better and a lot of laws are poorly written. But I have been for allowing unrestricted carry for all non criminals, that means open carry if a person chooses to do so.

The Bush administration went with the lesser regulation change to restrict only to CCW holders but that scared NPS hysterics and they may get a totally non rstricted aw instead.

Beside why does a department had the ability to regulate a constitutional right? If this restricion was challenegd on 2a grounds the federal government could lose any ability to regulate guns on federal lands. That get back to "shall not infringe " language which is very strong.

Actually Kurt, that is good point. If I was planning a hunting trip I may choose to camp in adjoining NPS campground and travel with the rifles to the National Forest.

Good, because the wackos have already been carrying guns everywhere for decades. Now this will even up the odds for the law abiding people. A majority of state have passed Concealed or Carry laws, so whats the difference in carrying in a park... none... Glad they passed it.

There's a string of points in some anonymous posts that bear repetition and clarification.

The Coburn amendment allows -open- carry in national parks, consistent with state law. This differs from the CFR change regarding -concealed- carry which was previously promulgated and then enjoined.

Can we please stop blaming the Bush administration and start blaming Congress, now that 27 Senate democrats (and Sanders) voted for the amendment?

This amendment does not change regulations on the firing or brandishing of weapons. Nor does it allow firearms to be carried into federal buildings.

This amendment, if the bill passes and the language survives conference, would align national parks and wildlife refuges with the laws of the states where they are located. If concealed carry is not permitted in the state, it won't be permitted in the park. If open carry is not permitted in the state, open carry won't be permitted in the park.

Some states ban open carry altogether. (Including, surprisingly, Texas.) Some states require some degree of licensing for open carry. Some, mostly in the west, allow open carry freely, and you (assuming you're not a convicted felon or otherwise disqualified) can walk down the street with a brace of dueling pistols or a samurai sword if you want to.

The coalition of lobby groups quoted in Kurt's article carefully chose parks in open-carry states. Accurate, but incomplete. Under current laws, Visitors could not openly carry at programs in Big Bend, Everglades, or Congaree, or at Independence NHP, or Gateway and Golden Gate NRAs. Under this amendment, states would still have the ability to restrict carry in parks, national or otherwise.

Ever been to Las Vegas? In Nevada you can openly carry a gun on your hip. Ever seen anyone do it? Probably not. The same regulation prevails in Arizona, where I grew up. In the 25-odd years I lived there, I saw someone openly wearing a pistol no more than 2 or 3 times. The only time anyone does so is to make a political point--they do it, because they can.

Rifles are kinda heavy. Nobody is going to bring an AR-15 on the wildflower walk. Nobody is going to backpack into Grand Canyon with a .30-06--well... I take that back. Nobody is going to do it twice.

And for the last Anon post, I'd highly recommend against it. I believe it's still illegal, and unwise, to transport game across a park boundary.

I've been reading the comments and I haven't seen the main reason for baning guns in parks. It wasn't really to keep visitors safe (a criminal is hardly going to care that guns aren't allowed) but to keep the animals safe. Now that more and more people are disconnected from the natural world, the fear of predators could possibly lead to people shooting them out of fear. I have seen people beating snakes to death with hiking poles. It wouldn't take much to have someone pulling out the handgun to shoot it. Then that could become an issue to the people. A stray bullet could easily strike someone on the trail with the snake muderer.

Illegal guns are also the only way many law enforcement officers can collar someone suspected of poaching. They may not find any proof of the animal being taken, but they can find the weapons. Guns have no place in our National Parks and certainly won't make them safer. As for the Constitution, that was written before hand guns were around when people did need guns for food and to fight off the British. We certainly don't need to hunt to survive and (hopefully) no one is shooting the British.

Absurd that a judge can summarily stop a rule based on some ridiculous argument about studying the environment! I carry a weapon in the park, rule or no rule. I earned the right to carry and I will. There is no increase in danger from me to you Betty H and Jim D.

The original rule change allowing for persons allowed concealed carry to enter the parks was a better compromise than this new rule allowing anyone! CCW or CCP folks are checked out. They are typically well versed in firearm use and safety.

The judge now forced the hand of the gun lobby and made things even worse.

Way to go judge.

This comment was edited to remove a gratuitous remark.

I echo the sentiments RangerLady posted in her first paragraph. It's the overreaction to an animal "threat" that will be the biggest misuse of firearms in the park.

But this is also valid: plenty of people already carry, legally or no, in the NPS. The sparsity of rangers can't police the NPS adequately.

I've long gotten over the gun issue on both sides. Harsher restrictions on legal gun ownership won't solve the gun violence problem, and having a gun is worthless when it comes to protecting you from crime. Both sides of that debate are barking at the moon. The only thing that will decrease crime and gun violence is clamping down on the illegal gun trade (which would require clamping down on private gun sales, gun shows, and disreputable dealers, something not in scope of this particular bill).

Bottom line: I won't be any more or less afraid with legal-carry in parks, and I won't visit the parks more or less because of this rule.

-====================================================

My travels through the National Park System: americaincontext.com

Another law-abiding citizen, Jim G. "I carry a weapon in a park, rule or no rule." Way to go, Jim G. Ignore the rules you don't like and obey the ones you do.

Rick Smith

Does anybody know what the crime rate involving weapons of people who are licensed for conceal carry is? I do. It's 0. At the time I was issued my CCW, the Sheriff told me that he was processing 10 requests a day. That's a lot of people in my county that have the right to carry, and yet strangely, none of us has shot the other. I've carried a pocket knife with me every day since I was in 4th grade, I'm 45 now and I've still never stabbed anybody. I don't carry because I'm afraid. I carry because it's my right as a law abiding citizen. I'm a 3rd degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do and I've never even been in a brawl. Why do people think that because you're prepared, that you are spoiling for a fight? Just because you have fire extinguishers in your home, do you set your drapes on fire? The problem with Jim G. is that he told you that he carries all the time. If you met Jim in one of our National Park Areas, you would most likely think he was a nice, normal guy, and then go on about your business no worse for the experience. And no RangerLady, we're not still shooting the British, but if it becomes neccessary again, at least I will have that capability. People have this idea that nobody attacks the U.S. because of our military, and while that may be true to an extent, as a former military member, I can tell you that other countries are more afraid of our citizens because we ALL have the right to keep and bear arms. Keep America AND our parks free.

The arguement against lawful carry of guns in NPS seems to wind down that it makes it easier to catch poachers.

That is insufficient reason to restrict a constitutional right. I refuse to give up a right so rangers can assume anyone with a gun is a poacher. Catch the poachers the old fashion way with investigation and facts. Catch them with the game.

The other arguremt is just hysterical fear of people with guns. The reality is that outside the parks people carry guns lawfully and crossing a border does not turn a law abiding person into a raving lunatic and killer or people and animals.

This is the same old tired argument that blood will run in the streets that states heard when they allowed CCW. None of those fears had any validity. Surprise!, most people do not wish to kill over minor arguments. Perhaps we are better than those who fear citizens.

I visited The Grand Canyon two weeks ago. I have my CCW license but I did not take my gun into the park because it was not legal to do so. Do you think that rapists, murderers and robbers care about if it is illegal to carry a gun in the National Parks? No, they like knowing that their prey is unarmed. I am a 40 year old woman that has taken the training and passed a test to get to have the right to carry a concealed gun. If you passed me in the park or on the street you would not even know that I was carrying a gun, neither would someone wanting to do harm to me. Wouldn't it be better for a criminal to have to wonder if someone was armed? I did not go "off the beaten path" because I did not feel safe doing so. The Grand Canyon National Park is a very large area. There is no way a Park Ranger could be there to protect me everywhere I wanted to go. There were places that I wanted to go but did not want to take a chance on being a victim. You people that are so opposed to guns need to wake up and realize the Park Rangers and Police are not going to be there to protect you, they are usually there to write the report of what happened.

Ruth--

I feel badly for you if you don't feel safe any place without your weapon. How do you survive in airports, federal buildings, and other places where you cannot carry? I do admire one thing, however, that you said. You left your weapon at home because you knew it was not legal to carry in Grand Canyon. Good for you! Most other CCW licensees who post on this blog, while claiming they are law-abiding, break the law by at least claiming they carry in parks.

Rick Smith

Way to go, Mr. Smith. Ignore the constitutional amendments you don't like and support the ones you do.

Oh you bleeding heart liberal look at the facts.

You really don't believe that criminals are going to let a law stop them from carrying guns do you ? Of course not, so the only people who have not carried were those who were law abiding. Seems kind of backwards doesn't it.

Keep an open mind, but don't open it so much that your brain has fallen out.

Lets see... Bill of Rights #1 Freedom of Speech... lets take that one away too. Oh, it is already underway by the current administration.

I regularly visit Yellowstone and fish remote areas like Slough Creek, where grizzley bears are common. Having my .45 long colt revolver is a practical backup for when the critter is determined to get me.

It just amazes me that the city people who visit the national parks think the animals are all cute and tame, while any person who carries a sidearm is some kind of homicidal maniac.

Frank C--

There are certain issues about which rational people disagree. The interpretation of the 2nd amendment is one such issue. I think that one can disagree with your interpretation of that amendment and still not be accused of "ignoring the constitutional amendments that you don't like..."

It's been extraordinarily difficult to have rational discussions about the guns-in-parks on this blog because people are so polarized about the issue. The flame throwers on the right and left drown out the voices who are seeking a consensus opinion. If you just look at the last two posts, you will see phrases like "knee-jerk liberals" and the dreaded "city folk." That's not a way to carry on a discussion.

I am not inclined to do much more posting on this subject.

Rick Smith

Mr. Smith:

I agree that the name calling is unfortunate and even unnecessary. It's a huge turn off to see those phrases, and as a Second Amendment supporter (as the Founders framed it and understood it), I feel it detracts from the main point.

However, when an individual feels cornered, he sometimes resorts to attacking rather than debating. When I feel my civil liberties are threatened, my first instinct is to attack or condemn the threat to my civil liberty. It is out of a defense of freedom that these ill-advised attacks are made.

I also limit my discussion on this thread (which generates tons of comments) because of its vituperative nature.

We could completely end the discussion and constitutionally ban firearms in national parks if we'd only remove them from the federal government's ownership and management. I'm sure the Nature Conservancy has no problems banning should it so desire.

Food for thought.

Having read the various emails about this issue it comes down to the fact that Colburn put the amendment into the Credit Card bill and worded the amendment to include any and all firearms, not just CCW or CCP. In my opinion the amendment will not stand on its own to public debate and Colburn did not want to wait for the Environmental Impact Study to be completed because I think it will come back as being against this position of loaded firearms in the NPS where they are mostly disallowed. Some firearms are allowed in certain NPS area's in Alaska that have high concentration of grizzly bears. Ruth stated she was afraid to go off the beaten path at the Grand Canyon because she didn't feel safe and was afraid of being a victim. Thank you for obeying the laws as they currently are and leaving your firearm/weapon outside of the park. The others who thumb their noses at the laws they disagree with and "carry anyway" are no different then the other rule breakers they are afraid of because "those" rule breakers are "rapists, murderers and robbers". You, the person carrying in the park because you disagree with the law are a rule breaker as well and if caught and convicted will be just as guilty as any other criminal. You broke the law and now you are lumped into the same category as other law breakers. I am not sure what level of crime this would be categorized as but it is still breaking the law.

The law was inacted not to take away someones second amendment, but to protect the wildlife in the NP's from poachers, and people carring firearms/weapons who don't respect the wildlife for what they are; wild. Is the fact that you can not carry in or around a state or federal court houses, state or federal congressional buildings, I think Post offices, airports and other areas and buildings that our Legislatures have found that those utilizing these places are too at risk for CCW, CCP or any other form of carry; I think the Second Amendment is being trampled on by this legislation but I don't here the NRA, ACLU, or anybody else screaming that it is so unfair that these places should be excluded from the Second Amendment. I think it is reasonable that certain places can be excluded and the NPS is one of them.

I have hiked and backpacked most of the NP's in the western US located in the lower 48 and have never felt threatened by anybody on the beaten path or off it. I have been down wind of grizzly bears in Yellowstone and Glacier NP's and surpised them and could not get my pepper spray out quick enough. The idea that I could get my sidearm out, aim it at a charging bear and take it down is foreign to me. The pepper spray works wonderfully, and you don't have to be a Marksman 1st Class, Sharpshooter, Expert or have recent military training and be used to something charging at you or shooting at you to be effective. Shooting at targets is far different then shooting at something with its ears back, low to the ground and approaching at 30 mph.

I have more problems in the back country hiking and backpacking in the NFS areas with dogs not being leashed and charging me then anything else. Some hae been really big dogs that because certain breeds have certain reputations have scared the #^&* out of me. But, I choose to leave my firearm/weapon at home in Las Vegas because it just weighs more then what I care to have to carry in the backcountry.

Jim C., I agree that is it your choice not to carry while in the backcountry however it should be everyone’s choice to make.

I take exception to you making rule breakers of a stupid rule as essentially the same as a murderer or rapist. There is a big difference between a person who break some rule like traffic speeds and a murderer. If our laws were more targeted at the real threats rather than people who are not a threat to others then these issues would not arise. It is time to stop targeting people who are basically law abiding and have no felonious intentions toward others. It is easy to make criminals just make so many laws that it is impossible not to break them.

Do you really want to say that a CCW person who never exposes their gun is as bad as a murderer?

This is a tough one, and I can fully understand both sides of the debate here. I spend most of my time in the Utah desert where I feel perfectly safe, some of that on NPS land, but most on BLM and state lands. I have never been threatened by people or animals there, have never felt threatened by unsavory characters in the bush, other than while I was searching for missing fugitives, who in the end had all committed suicide (that is, after the 1998 incident of the murder of a Cortez, Colorado police officer). I have never been worried about random people shooting at me in Parks, on BLM, or state lands. Consequently my sidearm does not leave the locked box in my truck.

I have carried it in the mountains in Colorado, but only in areas where I had been confronted (nearly attacked) by a pack of wild dogs that had been in the area for years. I felt comfortable having it there.

Those are my experiences.

Final comments- to paraphrase the obvious cliche- the problem is not the guns, but the people. I would never consider bringing my rifle to an evening campfire talk. I am sure there are folks out there who would, and those are are the ones I would worry about. There is my "con".

"Pro"- did anyone hear the report this week on NPR regarding Mexican drug organisations/ Cartels using our National Parks for marijuana growing operations? The part about the grad student doing research in the Sierras who ran for his life from a gun-toting drug garden tender who may have been planning to kill him?? I think this worries me more than the guy at the campfire.

Rick Smith,

I understand your desire not to further engage on this subject. But I wonder if your consensus view is just your view rather than people who want guns laws to be liberalized. Perhaps the compromise has to be done by the gun rights side.

I often see that many people who try to get more laws to restrict abilities to own, buy and use guns are always saying the approach to just to compromise. But the compromise is always one sided.

This time the gun rights people did compromise on gun carry in NPS by restricting it to CCW but that was not good enough to the anti gun groups and those that brought the suit.

So now you have a new position that open and concealed carry to be allowed by any as long as it is allowable by the local state law. Coburn’s amendment prevents the NPS or the DOI from promulgating and enforcing any gun regulation as it infringes the 2A.
After the entire vote were 67 to 29. It is the consensus of the Senate that this should be allowed so consensus was reached. So your objection has been satisfied.

Now on this site I do not agree that consensus has been reached. It seems that those of us who want more liberal gun laws will not agree with those of you that want to increase or maintain gun restrictions. The comments are fairly balanced.

I am willing to listen on what position you are willing to compromise to meet our goal of allowing visitors to carry guns in NPS. Perhaps you are not willing to compromise, if so why should the gun rights people compromise? We already compromised on the 1968 act and the NICS background check.

Anonymous, some would argue that the old rule, which allowed gun owners to transport firearms through the parks as long as they were dismantled and stowed out of reach, was a compromise.

I'm not sure how doing away with that rule and allowing concealed carry or open carry is a compromise. What compromise are gun owners making under either of those approaches? That they agree to conceal a weapon versus strapping it onto their hip or thigh or slinging it over their shoulder?

And, perhaps, that's the problem. What compromise can there be that will satisfy both sides of this issue? What one sees as reasonable, the other sees as outrageous.

Kurt that is the point. The goal of the gun rights activists is to eliminate the areas where lawful people can exercise their 2A rights. There is no real rational reason such as the limitation in courts to prevent carry in NPS especially as that is allowed under the prevailing state rules on other federal lands such as National Forests.

Considering that this is a basic right under the constitution that has been restricted severely since the 1950’s many want to get rid of unnecessary restrictions. So why don’t we go back to pre 1968 laws on guns in this country then? Because what done is done and we have to deal with the existing laws and restrictions and request change through normal channels.

The Supreme Court affirmed that the 2A is an individual right and that amendment includes “carry”. The decision was especially against the federal government and NPS is federal government land. So the right as argued in the Coburn amendment is being infringed by restrictions on carry in NPS lands.

Many people still do not agree that it is a right and have not come to terms with that. They still have an animus against guns and focus their attention on restricting the ability of the law abiding since the criminals do not abide by the law. Underlying their animus is a fear that people can not be trusted with carrying a hand gun without going manic and attacking other people. That fear has an element of truth since there are violent people who do and have killed others with a gun. But the simple defense is with every bad man with a gun is stopped by a good person with a gun. The gun is just the tool. I would rather trust the public with the ability to carry in NPS as anywhere. The more people that carry for lawful purpose will be available to stop a crazy that attacks others.

So the goal is to regain the ability to carry on the person a handgun, in this instance. That goal is not compatible with those who do not want people to have that ability. The location is the NPS but logically the location is irrelevant, If people have that right and per the Supreme Court they do, it is logical they can carry anywhere, NPS or not.

So the argument by many who are commenting for compromise is that those who had their rights upheld should not be able to exercise that right. Those people do not agree that the public have the tight to own, keep and bear arms. There is not area of compromise and gun rights people have practically compromised their rights away in the past and will not do it easily any longer.

The recent gun law past was to agree that mental instability issue on NICS checks could be added due to the tragedy at VT. The gun rights people were concerned about unintended consequences but agreed to the law. That was a compromise.

The rule change to allow only CCW holders was a compromise but that was not acceptable to National Parks Conservation Association so they used the environmental study requirement to frustrate that compromise. Since they did not want to compromise, the Coburn amendment will prohibit the DOI any authority to regulate guns beyond the prevailing state law. Allowing the state laws to be in effect is a compromise since it could be no restriction on gun regulation on federal land at all.

The red herring is poaching and that is not a valid reason to restrict a constitutional right. The underlying issue is do we trust our fellow Americans with guns or not? I do. I am not a fearful person as some have said here of those who wish to carry guns for precaution against the unexpected, rather those who argue against are fearful of there fellow Americans. I find that funny because there are always tools to use for violence and the gun is just a very effective tool. Cars kill others, but we do not assume that despite accidents and the rare crazy person that people will not want to harm another with their car. There is no difference with a gun; other that is will not be used as much as a car. Only for defense and sport shooting.

So will those who argue against the ability to carry a gun in NPS accept that we have that right? Not apparently by the comments of these civil people on your blog.

RAH, I think there are more concerns than "a fear that people can not be trusted with carrying a hand gun without going manic and attacking other people," and I'm not so sure that is a valid fear in this discussion.

Some other concerns that come to mind:

* Accidents happen no matter how careful folks think they are (this applies, of course, to more than just the gun issue)

* In family settings such as campgrounds with lots of kids running around playing, guns are not a good ingredient to the setting. And while I'd agree that far and away the majority of gun owners are responsible, there are always some who aren't. Just as there are careful motorists, and those who aren't.

* Alcohol and weapons don't mix, and in many campgrounds adults relax in the evening with a drink. Again, this is not to say responsible gun owners will mix these two, but irresponsible ones might.

* In responding to an altercation, how will a park ranger know whether someone brandishing a weapon is trying to protect themselves, or is a threat?

* Poaching and spur-of-the-moment shooting of wildlife is a concern.

As has been pointed out many, many times before on the Traveler, crime is not a substantive issue in the national parks. I wonder if there really is a need to have a weapon in a campground, let alone the backcountry?

I wonder if there really is a need to have a weapon in a campground, let alone the backcountry?

Would this question be asked of the right to hand out pamphlets on federal land, such as the National Mall? Is there a "need" for free speech? When it comes to constitutionally protected civil liberties, necessity is irrelevant. Inalienable rights should prevail.

Poaching and spur-of-the-moment shooting of wildlife is a concern.

It might be a concern for some, but I challenge anyone to produce any empirical study with even a slight correlation between CCW permit holders and poaching.

Poaching and target practice are illegal and will remain illegal. Shouting "fire" in a theater has been listed by others as a concern, but does it follow that no one should be allowed the right to exercise speech because a small minority might abuse it?

In responding to an altercation, how will a park ranger know whether someone brandishing a weapon is trying to protect themselves, or is a threat?

How do law enforcement officers in non-NPS areas manage to deal with similar situations?

Just as there are careful motorists, and those who aren't.

So should we ban driving all together because there are some who are careless? Or should we err on the side of freedom and prosecute those who irresponsibly break the law?

If inalienable rights prevail, why can't you walk into Sen. Coburn's office with a concealed weapon?

One thing to keep in mind is that under the Coburn amendment the prevailing state weapons laws would apply, so if passed into law national parks would be open not just to CCWs, but in many cases (in the West, at least) anyone who owns a firearm, whether it's a pistol or a rifle.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't the standards for owning and carrying a rifle a bit less stringent than those for a CCW?

And it's not apples to apples to compare NPS lands with BLM or FS lands when it comes to visitation and how rangers on those landscapes deal with weapons. NPS lands draw more visitors, to a smaller landscape, thus more crowding and conflicts, than either BLM or FS lands.

Accidents happen. I agree that accidents happen and I accept that risk. Accidents happen from a variety of causes yet we do not prohibit anything that may cause an accident. More children drown than by accidental gunfire. That is not a sufficient reason to prohibit a constitutional right.

Gun owners have children and even many children in their homes and those children do not suffer unduly from injury from guns. Gun owners are aware and take precautions. That risk or concern is just as possible in homes and playgrounds where other gun owners can and do carry. Plus in a campground I have never had kids from another campsite go through my belongings and that seem an extremely minor risk. Gun owners are more concerned from theft and take a lot of precautions of someone handling a weapon. We know that a gun can kill and do not let another handle a weapon without precautions. We certainly want to keep any expensive guns from being stolen so they are either on the owner or very well stored like current law allows. Current law allows guns to be stored at campsites and I never heard anything of a problem.

· Alcohol and guns do not mix. The main reason people say this is that alcohol lowers the inhibitions and yet people drink and rarely attack others with or without guns. Now young impulsive people can and do risky behavior especially while drunk. If they indulge in that behavior then the regular punishments apply. People also drink at home where guns are and I do not hear of a gun slaughters that happens. Again this is a stretch. Again the underlying fear is that the gun owner will not be responsible and I have yet to hear evidence that supports that contention.

· In the case of overt gun use how can a ranger tell the difference is easy? The ranger tells all parties to lower the guns. This is the same method police use when they run into non-uniform police and guns are in play. You treat all the gun holders the same and tell them to lower and drop a gun. After the ranger gets the stories he can then arrest or let go as he determines.

Poaching is still disallowed. I have said before that in order to arrest on poaching you need the true evidence not the assumption that everyone with a gun is a poacher. My rights are not to be violated to make a poaching arrest easier. As to the inclination of pistol holders to shoot game in a park I do not see that as a reasonable assumption. Most game is hunted with rifles and poaching happens in National Forrest lands also and the rangers there do not have the ability to assume a group of hunters is taking game out of season. So they will often check for dead game. No reason that NPS ranger can’t do the same thing.

A right to carry a gun is not predicted on need. You do not need the right of free speech or freedom to worship as you choose but you still have it. Crime may not be an issue but regrettably when it occurs it is generally unexpected. Why not be prepared if you choose. Same as any other risk.

A previous commenter mentions a NPR show about a person who was risk from Illegal “weed” farms on NPS land. That is a true issue and some parks are not as safe as others.

You present concerns that are not major problems or have any evidence in other areas where carry is practiced as an issue.

The major problem is wither reckless, irresponsible of felonious use of a firearm. Those are the same risks that are present off NPS land where carry is allowed and it is not a problem. If they occur then you prosecute as well as any other law that is broken. Prohibiting lawful exercising of rights because it might be a problem, that is a travesty of the concept of freedom. We don’t tape people mouths shut when they go into a theater to prevent them from shouting fire. They are punished after the fact. We do not prevent the press from printing stories before they are printed and some stories have violates national security laws but the government generally pleads and the courts do not take kindly to pre print prohibition

The right to self protection is even more needed in areas of our nation in which there is less protection from criminals and animals that might attack humans. This law was a step in the right direction.

It is everybody's choice to carry or not in the backcountry except in NP's.

I did a quick search and could only figure out that if caught in a NP and not following the existing law concerning firearms and weapons then the individual is subject to fines, possible loss of permit, possible loss of weapon, and possible confinement. So it sounds to me that it depends on the circumstances in which the person is caught and how they interact with the ranger who catches them. The point I was making is to respect the laws of the land. Including the stupid ones. I don't agree with them all, but I follow them and try to change them through the appropriate channels. Yes, I do have a lead foot and have paid for it on occasion.

The point I was making is to respect the laws of the land. Including the stupid ones.

Wow.

Statements like these from jim.hiker show how a government is able to exterminate millions of people using the "laws of the land" like the Nuremberg Laws.

@Frank C: Well, it did take a while, but finally you made it. Thank you for proving Godwin's Law again. This thread can be closed now.

MRC, I agree. So instead I could point to the Volstead or Patriot Act as a way of mitigating against the dreaded effects of Godwin's Law. There are plenty of unjust and tyrannical edicts to go around right here in the land of the free and the home of the brave before needing to invoke our German, Russian or Chinese brethren in the fine art of repressing human liberty. Our rulers are quite capable in this arena.

No need for imports on this issue.

Our current un-Constitutional wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan qualifies the U.S. government as the number one outlaw in the world at the present time.

Thanks for the reality check MRC. Who needs the Nazis when you've got the current band of pirates in DC to hold up to scrutiny? Torture, counterfeiting (the printing press of the Federal Reserve), bloody aggression against civilian populations, lying, cheating and all other sorts of thuggery----yes we've got it all.

Who needs Himmler when you've got Dick Cheney?

Beamis your comment is really off topic. You will get a lot of arguement about the wars being unconstitutional. Since this site is about NPS and the topic is loosening gun carry in the NPS.

Keep on topic.

In Virginia a CCW person can walk in the State house with a weapon and visit his representative.

Coburn may allow that in his home state. But in DC there is still a gun ban and carry ban in effect. Senator Webb ran into that problem with his assistant getting caught with a gun in his briefcase.

The difference is that in DC they do not trust the public with carrying weapons. In Virginia they do. OC and CCW is allowed in Virginia and they have less crime than DC. I am not implying that guns are the reason that Virginia has less crime. More to do with demographics but DC guns laws do not help

Anon---I was merely responding to the Godwin's Law comment (which you did not see fit to brand as "off topic"). Tangential thinking and commenting is what an open forum is all about.

Actually I thought Frank C was on topic since it was in response to our supposed duty to follow all stupid laws and he pointed out the logical extension of that policy of obedience. Where Beamis went off topic is brining up our foreign policy which is irrelevant to this topic.

The point is not that all people obey all laws stupid or not. We don't. Most of us speed and that is against the law. I do not carry or store in the NPS since where I live, that is difficult. Plus I did not care to have extra weight when I used to backpack. Howver one of my party did carry a 45 in the backpack in post 1976 and we had no idea that was illegal at the time.

It is irrational to prohibit carry in NPS when it is pefectly legal is the adjoining state. Most of the opposing arguement are about lack of need which is not a requirement to execise a constitutional right. Also worry about poaching which would still be prohibited so that is a false arguement.

I wish that people would accept that the 2A means people can have, carry and use guns. That means most any place not only in few locations.

"It is irrational to prohibit carry in NPS when it is pefectly legal is the adjoining state."

So is it irrational to prohibit carry in Wisconsin because it adjoins states that permit carry? Is it irrational for different states with CCW to have different requirements for CCW?

Yes, Rationally the 2A allows the right to keep and bear arms. Most states have similar language. Many states allow OC and 38 states allows CCW or LTC. The 2A particularly says the federal government may not infringe that right. Prohibiting carry in public lands such as NPS is infringing that right. Read the Coburn amendment it specifically refers to the 2A language to justify the amendment that DOI has no authority to promulgate or enforce gun laws. That means gun restrictions in NPS. That is because the 2A is not incorporated throughout the states except in the states covered by the 9th Circuit Ct, which just recently decreed that the 2A is incorporated. Those states are Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, Ca, Nevada and Arizona. Of all those states the only state that had restricted OC and CCW was CA. All the other states allow OC and CCW in the 9th Circuit Ct.

So for instance in Virginia that allows OC and CCW there should be no restriction by NPS only state law would apply to visitors in Shenandoah.

If the person come from West Virginia the same applies since their laws are the same as Virginia. Maryland however has LTC but not OC so only those who possess a LTC could carry on NPS lands in Md like Assateague NP.

DC, which has the monuments and mall, has restrictions on carry so far and those restrictions would apply on NPS run parks in DC. So there would not be CCW or OC in DC on the monument grounds.

States cannot impose their laws on adjoining states that violate the federalism nature of our Republic.

The federal government cannot either on the states they can only say what applies on federal land. The BLM and National Forests use the states laws to abide on guns on those federal areas. Only NPS and Wilderness Areas seems to have this massive urge to ban guns carry whether open or concealed.

They had the option for CCW and they fought that and manage to get it suspended so now they may suffer open and loaded carry of handguns and long arms.