Recent comments

  • House Seals Deal To Allow Wide Range of Firearms into The National Park System   5 years 30 weeks ago

    "How did this country ever get into this mindset?"

    We didn't "get" into this mindset. Being armed is a pillar of freedom and a natural right.

    Jefferson states it best:

    A strong body makes the mind strong. As to the species of exercises, I advise the gun. While this gives moderate exercise to the body, it gives boldness, enterprise and independence to the mind. Games played with the ball, and others of that nature, are too violent for the body and stamp no character on the mind. Let your gun therefore be your constant companion of your walks.

    One loves to possess arms, though they hope never to have occasion for them.

    We established however some, although not all its [self-government] important principles . The constitutions of most of our States assert, that all power is inherent in the people; that they may exercise it by themselves, in all cases to which they think themselves competent, (as in electing their functionaries executive and legislative, and deciding by a jury of themselves, in all judiciary cases in which any fact is involved,) or they may act by representatives, freely and equally chosen; that it is their right and duty to be at all times armed;

    No freeman shall ever be debarred the use of arms.

  • House Seals Deal To Allow Wide Range of Firearms into The National Park System   5 years 30 weeks ago

    I think many would respond that free countries remain free in part to it's citizens having the liberty to arm themselves. Where did this country get this mindset? The Revolutionary War would be a good starting point.

  • House Seals Deal To Allow Wide Range of Firearms into The National Park System   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Rangertoo asked:

    "Will guns be allowed in the Statue of Liberty, Independence Hall, and the Liberty Bell? If not, what law will stop them?"

    Specifically? 18 USC § 930. It is still unlawful to carry a firearm in a federal building, with the usual exceptions (law enforcement, military, &c.). The new law overrules federal regulations, but not other federal laws. In the outdoor spaces of Independence NHP, the laws of Pennsylvania and Philadelphia will prevail, so you'll need a license to carry. The rules in New York City are especially restrictive, and I suspect that the ferries to Liberty Island are still restricted.

    Jim wrote:

    "Therein lies one of the misconceptions about the previous regulation. It did not prohibit anyone bringing a legally possessed firearm into a park, so there was no need to "skip visiting" any park. Visitors carrying a weapon that was legal outside the boundary of that park simply had to unload it and secure it in the trunk of the vehicle or similar secure location while they were in the park. The system worked well for years for the vast majority of park visitors, but of course that's now a moot point."

    Some people carry guns in their cars, holstered, out of immediate reach, and otherwise in accordance with state laws. The regulation as it existed required that anyone who intends to do so consistently stop before entering a park, unload, and stow the gun and ammo seperately. Then, after passing through the park, to stop again and put it all back together. It's not just a matter of time and inconvenience, but also subtlety. The point is to have it if you need it, but not to go making a big production of it. A responsible gun owner doesn't want to stand in a parking lot, in a gateway community, loading, unloading, stowing, and retrieving a gun.

    And then there's the matter of law enforcement discretion. The old regulation required that a gun be rendered "inoperable." That's usually interpreted as "in the trunk." But not all vehicles have trunks, some have trunks that are readily accessible from inside the cab, and not everyone enters the parks by car. (Imagine walking the Pacific Crest Trail! Personally, I wouldn't want the extra weight, but I'm happy to grant my countrymen their own discretion.) The fact is, the regulation says 'inoperable.' So to be in full compliance, in some cases we required visitors to field strip firearms, which goes back to that subtlety thing I was talking about. (Not to mention that my .38 doesn't break down that easily.)

    No doubt, none of these arguments impress you. That's not the point. "The system worked well for years for the vast majority of park visitors..." Sorry Jim, but "the smallest minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights cannot claim to be defenders of minorities." If we governed strictly by what worked best for the majority, well, I wouldn't want anything to do with that country.

    Wrote Mike D,

    "I just wish the pro-gun people would at least acknowledge for once that some people feel more safe with less guns around. Their argument should therefore be: "I know you feel less safe and you fear for the safety of yourself, wildlife, and other natural resources in national parks, and worry that some people are not responsible enough to carry firearms, be it legal or not, but I nonetheless feel that it's more important that I be able to carry my gun so that I can feel safe."

    Sorry, Mike, but I can't make that statement, because "feeling safe" has nothing to do with it for me. What I can say is this: I know you feel less safe and you fear for the safety of yourself, wildlife, and other natural resources in national parks, and worry that some people are not responsible enough to carry firearms, be it legal or not, but I nonetheless affirm that the rule of law is paramount if we are to be a civilized people, and that the Constitution explicitly forbids the Congress to infringe the right of the people to keep and bear arms. Moreover, I believe that American citizens are free men, who should be guided by their own judgment.

    Now comes the straw-man argument that, since I believe gun rights should not be infringed, I must think that kindergarteners should be allowed to go armed in class. Of course not, so stow it. I do believe that gun laws, like restrictions on freedom of speech, should be kept to the barest minimum possible. That's exactly what the Coburn amendment did--eliminated an unnecessary restriction on a constitutional right.

    Wrote Frank C:

    "Resistance to sudden violence, for the preservation not only of my person, my limbs, and life, but of my property, is an indisputable right of nature which I have never surrendered to the public by the compact of society, and which perhaps, I could not surrender if I would." -- John Adams

    Nice quote. Very nice. Thanks, Frank.

  • House Seals Deal To Allow Wide Range of Firearms into The National Park System   5 years 30 weeks ago

    It's all just so sad that so many people feel they must arm themselves to be safe. Worse is the visceral, emotional attachment to firearms. How did this country ever get into this mindset? If we feel we must be armed at all times the criminals have already won - they have caused us to fear and cower in our own homes, stores, and now parks. Somehow, lots of other advanced, prosperous, free countries manage to live peaceably and safely without being armed to the teeth. Why can's we?

  • Missed Portage Leads to Death At Big South Fork National River And Recreation Area   5 years 30 weeks ago

    I worked last summer at Big South Fork, and hope to clear up a few points of confusion here. Before I do, however, please understand that I do not speak for the National Park Service - only for myself, as a private citizen, and that this is how I understand the situation at Angel Falls (it could have changed after I left the park, or I could be altogether mistaken).

    I often would meet park visitors who planning a trip from Leatherwood to Station Camp, and when asked about the lack of signage at Angel Falls, my standard response was that there used to be a sign many years ago, but that it continued to wash away in seasonal flooding. The sign was eventually never put back up because of liability issues (eg - if someone floated the river, expected to the sign but never saw it (for whatever reason), then NPS-BISO could be held liable for not keeping the sign there). Park staff keep a small photo album at the front desk of the main visitor center showing the Angel Falls area that is used when talking with folks about to float this part of the river. Just before you reach the portage, there is a large, long cliffline that is the traditional landmark for the portage. It is the only such exposed cliffs you will see between Leatherwood and Angel Falls. Park staff have always gladly made copies of the photo showing the cliffs for people who ask for one.

    As far as cell phones (and sometimes park radios) go, good luck getting a signal in the river gorge. Unless Verizon or someone else plops a cell tower in the river, chances are your cell phone will be useless.

    Angel Falls itself is a deathtrap except for in extremely low water conditions. It is a place that is beautiful to hike to and observe safely, but it has claimed even the most experienced of boaters.

    A death at Big South Fork is always a tragic event. It's something that affects everyone, including the closely-knit park staff, and my deepest sympathies go out to the families.

  • National Park Mystery Photo 3: It's All In the Patterns   5 years 30 weeks ago

    It's Devil's postpile in California.

  • House Seals Deal To Allow Wide Range of Firearms into The National Park System   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Irony. The defenders of the anti carry bias from NCPA has resulted in a broader bill that allows carry for all not from people that have had their backgrounds checked . The intial rule change was an attempt to address the fears of the public about making sure that responsible people only would be allowed and that the weapon would be concealed so not to scaree the public. Now that is different.

  • House Seals Deal To Allow Wide Range of Firearms into The National Park System   5 years 30 weeks ago

    This is completely nuts. It shows how far to the right the politics of this country has shifted that this kind of radical legislation can sail through the Congress with barely a whimper. However, it is revealing that the proponents of this legislation, led by ultra-reactionary Sen. Coburn, recognize that most American citizens would oppose it if it were exposed to the sunshine. So, they made sure there were no public hearings.

    They knew that public hearings would show:

    - The current regulations, put in place under the Reagan administration, have worked just fine.
    - There is no evidence that there is any need to change the regulations.
    - There are lots of reasons why this legislation is a really bad idea for wildlife, historic artifacts, visitors, and park staff.
    - All responsible groups involved in parks, public lands, and conservation oppose the legislation.
    - A long parade of respected citizens and organizations would line up to testify against this legislation.

    Instead, we had the kind of back room dealing that was the hallmark of the Bush administration and Republican Congress. Except this bill is even more radical than the Bush regulations. It is clearly a gift to extreme gun advocates in the Republican base, enabled by spineless Democrats who are afraid to stand up for our parks against the gun lobby. I am totally disgusted.

  • House Seals Deal To Allow Wide Range of Firearms into The National Park System   5 years 30 weeks ago

    This isn't getting as much attention, but I think this rule also applies to national wildlife refuges. That may be more alarming. I just wish the pro-gun people would at least acknowledge for once that some people feel more safe with less guns around. Their argument should therefore be: "I know you feel less safe and you fear for the safety of yourself, wildlife, and other natural resources in national parks, and worry that some people are not responsible enough to carry firearms, be it legal or not, but I nonetheless feel that it's more important that I be able to carry my gun so that I can feel safe." That would at least be a more honest argument. Instead they just talk about their rights and how they're responsible. Likewise anti-gun people should acknowledge that some people can safely use firearms, maybe even the vast majority. But all I ever hear about is rights and fears about criminals lurking in national parks but no statistics or responses about crimes that could have been prevented by allowing gun-toting visitors.

  • Interior Officials Release Rule Change to Allow National Park Visitors to Arm Themselves   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Peter -

    To follow up on Kurt's comment, a key problem with the Coburn Amendment doesn't have anything to do with CCW. The issue is the vastly expanded, immediate access to loaded rifles and shotguns in parks by those intent on breaking the law, along with the drunken idiots who are just out to "have a good time." The supposed restraining influence of a CCW permit doesn't apply in those cases.

    The previous regulations reduced the immediate availability of those loaded guns to criminals in parks, and the idiots who use firearms irresponsibly, because they at least had to keep them out of sight and out of immediate reach to avoid attracting attention. When they didn't, and when rangers spotted those weapons, they could take appropriate action without being forced to wait until shots were fired or another serious problem occurred.

    Under the new approach, that restraining influence over that small percentage of people who will act stupidly with guns has been lost, until they do something that may endanger others. When state law allows (and that's often the case) the criminals - along with the honest folks - are now free to keep those loaded rifles right there in the gun rack of their pickup truck during their visit to a park.

    Yes, I realize that's the norm outside the park in many states, so parks can now become just like the rest of the country. I'm glad that makes some people feel safer while visiting a park. I'm not one of them.

    Parks are not the same as the rest of the country for a lot of reasons. One of those is easy access to wildlife, including some prime specimens that plenty of people would like to see hanging on the wall of their den. The new law makes it much easier for that to occur.

    Here's a common scenario from my years of working in parks that illustrates my concern.

    It's midnight, and a meadow next to a park road is full of elk, including some trophy-quality bulls. Two good ol' boys are driving slowly down the deserted road through the meadow, and they're both holding a loaded, high-powered rifle in their lap. What might they be thinking? Perhaps they're just being prepared to defend themselves in case an evil person suddenly appears out of the dark and threatens them.

    If you believe that one, you're probably good a candidate for some financial advice from a guy named Madof.

    I'll repeat my suggestion made on a different post for an appropriate title for Coburn's amendment, because it goes far beyond allowing the carrying of handguns for self defense by CCW holders. A good title for this bill is the Poachers and Vandals Stimulus Act.

    I hope I'm wrong...but I'm not betting against it. Time will tell.

  • House Seals Deal To Allow Wide Range of Firearms into The National Park System   5 years 30 weeks ago

    "Resistance to sudden violence, for the preservation not only of my person, my limbs, and life, but of my property, is an indisputable right of nature which I have never surrendered to the public by the compact of society, and which perhaps, I could not surrender if I would." -- John Adams

  • House Seals Deal To Allow Wide Range of Firearms into The National Park System   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Re: Mr. Burnett
    Under the previous regulations, there were at least some controls to reduce the immediate availability of loaded guns, including rifles and shotguns, in parks. The idiots who use firearms irresponsibly at least had to keep them out of sight. When they didn't, and when rangers spotted those weapons, they could take appropriate action without being forced to wait until shots were fired.

    --

    I have worked law enforcement for the NPS and in a city in a state that allows open carry of a firearm. The notion that a Ranger has to wait until shots are fired to take appropriate action is an inaccurate statement. Your statement opens the door to reader visualizing gangs of armed thugs waving guns around in our parks, and the Ranger waiting until shots are fired until he / she takes action. Any law enforcement officer worth his salt, can at most any time, find a legal violation that prompts law enforcement contact and further investigation.

    In my experience, criminals generally don't like to highlight and draw attention to themselves to law enforcement or the general public. Criminals who bring weapons into parks after this bill is implemented, would have brought them into the parks before this bill was implemented. The difference now - law abiding park visitors have legal means to protect themselves.

    Personally, I am still on the fence with this issue. I find this bill appropriate for some parks, and not for others - which logically does not hold water. Ultimately I side with the law abiding citizen having the opportunity to protect him/herself.

  • House Seals Deal To Allow Wide Range of Firearms into The National Park System   5 years 30 weeks ago

    To answer Rangertoo , Why not? The point is that having a gun openly or concealed is not to be considered an indication of criminality. The person who uses a weapon to hurt, intimidate, steal has then comitted a criminal act. It is the people's criminal actions that are the problem, not they tool they use.

    Now decent folks can be armed and defend themselves. So if a vistor is seeing the Liberty Bell they can be armed either open as PA law allows or conceealed. Philly had a different authrority under the law so those partcular laws may apply. Washington Monument goes under DC law at the moment and carry is not allowed so that will not change until DC law is changed. DC is still fighting the ruling to allow posession of guns in DC the carry portion has not been raised in court yet.

    As to the appropiateness of gun carrying pulic in MLK home, well MLK carried a handgun most of the time. So does not seem inappropiate. I see no reason that those murdered should be sanctified that requires that others should be defencless also.
    VT fought a change in the law that would have allowed students who had CCW to be allowed that priviledge on campus, When it got shot down. VT said now their staff and students could feel safe. A couple months later Cho shot over 50 people and killed over 30. The perception of saftey from a rule barring CCW did not provide that reality There were students on that building that had CCW permits and professors also that were capbale of defending themselves but did not have the means when a killer stalk the halls. Instead the other classerooms tried to barricade doors and jump put window or play dead an allow more bullets to be pumped into their bodies.

    This change has not passed and Obama may not sign it. But more agree with my viewpoint than the antigun folks. That is reflected in the vote total in Senate and House

  • House Seals Deal To Allow Wide Range of Firearms into The National Park System   5 years 30 weeks ago

    This will raise threats to our employees significantly. When we consider the law and some of our units of the National Park Service some of us work in areas where open carry will be reported as a person with a gun and our staff will respond accordingly. Any time you have people pointing guns at each other, you raise the level for serious injury and or death. Visitors who choose to wear a weapon in the park based on state statute should make sure they are carrying it appropriately and that they are not brandishing it. For now I respectfullly reqeust NPS advocates do as much research as you can in all states and get that information to park service personnel as quick as possible. Information with the concealed carry came out slow and it was very confusing.

  • Winner of the Annual Harry Yount Award for Excellence in Rangering Announced   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Way to go Pete! Truely deserved!

  • House Seals Deal To Allow Wide Range of Firearms into The National Park System   5 years 30 weeks ago

    I wonder when the same logic that is now being used for concealed weapons will be extended to permit pets in the backcountry and on park trails?

    Just think, the political influence of the NRA is nothing compared to a hundred million worried about the vacation rights of the furry members of their family. Some might argue that the underactive wildlife could use the presence of a few domesticated personal trainers.

    I wonder how many potential park visitors don't go to parks because parks are not pet friendly? Maybe if State Parks and State Recreation Areas allow pets off the leash, so should National Parks?

  • National Park Mystery Photo 3: It's All In the Patterns   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Devil's Postpile it is. I thought for sure this one would be a puzzler for a long while.

    To see this perspective one needs to hike up onto the top of the "pile," where glaciers not only have sheared off the ends but polished them quite nicely.

    Congrats to DK, though he's probably right that those behind the previous two answers might have been thinking "postpile" when they wrote "tower."

  • National Park Mystery Photo 3: It's All In the Patterns   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Well, I admit that was a clue. I think they meant Devil's Postpile.

  • House Seals Deal To Allow Wide Range of Firearms into The National Park System   5 years 30 weeks ago

    You shold be outraged and so should all true Americans on both sides of this issue! We have seen this pattern of abuse of powers for a number of years now (maybe forever). We are NOT being represented and they will pass whatever they want whenever they want. It is particually frightning how many changes have been made in the last few months WITHOUT much input from the American voter.

    God Bless US!

  • National Park Mystery Photo 3: It's All In the Patterns   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Nope and nope.

  • National Park Mystery Photo 3: It's All In the Patterns   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Devils Tower.. its natural.

  • National Park Mystery Photo 3: It's All In the Patterns   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Devils Tower

  • Interior Officials Release Rule Change to Allow National Park Visitors to Arm Themselves   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Peter, you overlook the fact that there are numerous cases of "law-abiding" CCW holders who have been charged with crimes, that there are many cases of CCW holders whose weapons have been involved in accidental shootings (more than a few involving young children), and that the Coburn amendment goes beyond CCW in saying who can arm themselves in national parks.

    Indeed, anyone who has a firearm, whether it's covered by a CCW permit or a hunting license, will be able to tote a firearm in a national park. And you overlook the fact that different states have different standards that individuals must meet to obtain a CCW.

    And, as has been pointed out earlier, this rule change could actually embolden criminals, as they now will be able to openly carry weapons without fear of a ranger stopping to ask them what they're up to.

    Then, too, there are those who say they must have a firearm to defend themselves from wildlife. That type of comment indicates 1) how little these folks know about wildlife and encounters in the parks and 2) that they just might be a little trigger happy in the extremely small likelihood that they would actually see a wild animal during their visit.

    Sadly, I do not see passage of this amendment as societal progress.

  • Interior Officials Release Rule Change to Allow National Park Visitors to Arm Themselves   5 years 30 weeks ago

    I believe a citizen has a right to protect themselves whereever. As long as they are not prohibited from owning a firearm. The only people that would poach or violate the law are law violators and those people will carry guns illegally and will not adhere to the laws preventing guns in national parks. Your law abiding permit carrying citizen is not going to draw a weapon unless there is an immediate threat to human life. They are not going to risk their permit to carry by breaking any laws. Permit carriers are rarely involved in situations where they violate any laws intentionally. The argument that there would be more poaching or spontaneous shooting of animals is not by any means a valid argument. There does not seem to be any valid argument against carrying guns in national parks. All the arguments I have heard have to do with law abiding citizens breaking the law and risking their status as a permit holder. you have to remember that permit holders are screened and issued a permit because they are not law breakers. The issue of banning weapons in parks would only create a safe place for criminals to be able to commit crimes against law abiding citizens knowing they can go to these places with their illegal weapons and not meet much resistance since the law abiding citizen is likely not going to be able to defend themselves in these places against an armed law breaker. A law banning the carrying of firearms by law abiding citizens should have with it the right to sue the national parks and the government in the event something were to happen to a citizen in those places and they were not able to defend themselves due to the law.

  • House Seals Deal To Allow Wide Range of Firearms into The National Park System   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Perhaps someone can explain some things to me. Will guns be allowed in the Statue of Liberty, Independence Hall, and the Liberty Bell? If not, what law will stop them?

    How about the birthplace of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr.? Seems particularly wrong to have guns in the homes of our leaders who were violently killed by guns.

    How will the NPS deal with guns at Alcatraz and the St. Louis Arch? How about the Washington Monument and Federal Hall?

    Just wondering.