Recent comments

  • Endangered Species Day, What Have We Lost, What Might We Lose In the National Parks?   5 years 19 weeks ago

    Nice post, unfortunately in a lot of cases the habitat provided by the parks isn't itself adequate to ensure their survival. There's more to "habitat" than the immediate area in which species lives, you have to consider the air they breathe and the water they drink, plus the shallowness of the gene pool.

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    My travels through the National Park System: americaincontext.com

  • Judge Blocks Wal-Mart SuperCenter From Opening Near Joshua Tree National Park   5 years 19 weeks ago

    I don't know if the government will take greenhouse gases into consideration with road paving or any of the other "stimulus" projects, but it's certainly an interesting point you raise, Frank.

    Where do we as a society decide to make trade-offs? What is considered appropriate, what is not? Should we accept double standards? Is providing public access to a national park of higher priority than a department store?

    This is the sort of thing that not only needs to be balanced across the economic/organizational spectrum, but explored if we are to slow climate change or, if you disagree that humans are a key driver in that, simply minimize our environmental impacts.

    But another factor is the economics -- can we afford to mitigate everything? Trying to do so upfront can add substantial costs to a project, but then, so too can court battles. Where should the line be drawn?

  • Endangered Species Day, What Have We Lost, What Might We Lose In the National Parks?   5 years 19 weeks ago

    Hello Kurt,

    Thank you for the great post - your message is exactly what Endangered Species Day is all about - becoming aware of what there is to lose if we don't strive to further protect our ecosystems both far away and locally.

    Best,
    Gina

  • Judge Blocks Wal-Mart SuperCenter From Opening Near Joshua Tree National Park   5 years 19 weeks ago

    Joshua Tree National Park just got over $5 million to repave roads. Has the National Park Service "adequately consider[ed] its greenhouse-gas impacts"? I think not.

    More governmental double standards.

    This is right out of Atlas Shrugged.

  • Senate Loads Credit Card Bill With Amendment to Allow Loaded Weapons in National Parks   5 years 19 weeks ago

    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

  • Judge Blocks Wal-Mart SuperCenter From Opening Near Joshua Tree National Park   5 years 19 weeks ago

    Wal-Mart is getting too big for their britches.

  • Senate Loads Credit Card Bill With Amendment to Allow Loaded Weapons in National Parks   5 years 19 weeks ago

    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.

  • Judge Blocks Wal-Mart SuperCenter From Opening Near Joshua Tree National Park   5 years 19 weeks ago

    And you wonder why California is going broke? How many employees does walmart have in California? How much in Taxes does Walmart and it's employees pay? Your "GREEN" jobs is b.s. We can,t get a solar plant up here in California City because of environmental b.s. If we want to put up wind turbines in Tehachapi you fight us. The only reason you fight us is because you keep these stupid lawsuits tied up in courts in order to give yourself a a steady paycheck. Once you bled all the money you can from any company that wants to build in California you move on to the next "cause" . You don,t give a rats a## about the environment or people trying to scratch out a living in this ... state .
    signed,
    sick and tired

  • Senate Loads Credit Card Bill With Amendment to Allow Loaded Weapons in National Parks   5 years 19 weeks ago

    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?

  • Senate Loads Credit Card Bill With Amendment to Allow Loaded Weapons in National Parks   5 years 19 weeks ago

    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?

  • Endangered Species Day, What Have We Lost, What Might We Lose In the National Parks?   5 years 19 weeks ago

    Kurt and Jim, I totally agree. Our national parks are safe havens for a wide variety of plants and animals. Unfortunately, sometimes these safe havens are not large enough and pristine enough to do a better job BUT they preserve more than most realize. Thank goodness we have them because a look around shows how development has destroyed so very much of our precious wild lands and their bounty !

  • Interior Secretary Salazar Urged to Protect Valley Forge National Historical Park   5 years 19 weeks ago

    Thanks for the clarification.

  • Senate Loads Credit Card Bill With Amendment to Allow Loaded Weapons in National Parks   5 years 19 weeks ago

    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.

  • Upon Further Review - Wacky Question of the Week   5 years 19 weeks ago

    I worked for a bit at the California State Capitol as a tour guide with California State Parks. Due to the high volume of people and the nature of politics, I got a lot of head scratcher questions. Some of my favorites: "What is this building anyway?" "Does the Governor live in the Basement?" "Where's the President's Office?" "Is this the White House?" (All questions asked by adults, mind you.) Then there were some that I got on a regular basis: "Do these stairs work?" "What time is the 3 o'clock tour?" "Can I go outside?" "How do I get out of the building?" People apparently leave their minds at home when they're on vacation.

  • Interior Secretary Salazar Urged to Protect Valley Forge National Historical Park   5 years 19 weeks ago

    In a nutshell, the objections revolve around where the complex is to be built -- on land with historic significance to the Continental Army. Plus, some years ago there was agreement between the NPS and the predecessors of ARC to locate a museum in another section of the park, one already developed, closer to a visitor center.

  • Interior Secretary Salazar Urged to Protect Valley Forge National Historical Park   5 years 19 weeks ago

    If the proposed development is a museum why is that bad? Is it just becasue it is done by a private owner or because they fail to get approval from NPS?

  • Senate Loads Credit Card Bill With Amendment to Allow Loaded Weapons in National Parks   5 years 19 weeks ago

    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.

  • Endangered Species Day, What Have We Lost, What Might We Lose In the National Parks?   5 years 19 weeks ago

    A good reminder about one of the important reasons we have national parks. Protected areas for a wide variety of plants and animals are increasingly valuable in today's world.

  • Senate Loads Credit Card Bill With Amendment to Allow Loaded Weapons in National Parks   5 years 19 weeks ago

    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.

  • Senate Loads Credit Card Bill With Amendment to Allow Loaded Weapons in National Parks   5 years 19 weeks ago

    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.

  • Senate Loads Credit Card Bill With Amendment to Allow Loaded Weapons in National Parks   5 years 19 weeks ago

    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?

  • Senate Loads Credit Card Bill With Amendment to Allow Loaded Weapons in National Parks   5 years 19 weeks ago

    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.

  • Senate Loads Credit Card Bill With Amendment to Allow Loaded Weapons in National Parks   5 years 19 weeks ago

    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.

  • Updated: Brian O'Neill, Golden Gate National Recreation Area Superintendent, Dies Following Heart Surgery   5 years 19 weeks ago

    He cared about his country and did something about it ,God Bless Him

  • Senate Loads Credit Card Bill With Amendment to Allow Loaded Weapons in National Parks   5 years 19 weeks ago

    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