Recent comments

  • At 55 and Counting, Wright Brothers National Memorial Enjoys Its Monumental Facelift   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Copy of the NPS Press Release detailing the 105th Anniversary Celebration Itinerary:

    (Wish I could make it for the flyovers alone. There's some really cool aircraft in that lineup!)

    dap

    National Park Service News Release
    Release Date: December 8, 2008
    Contact: Wright Brothers National Memorial
    Phone: (252) 441-7430

    Wright Brothers’ First Flight Achievement to be Celebrated on December 17
    105th Anniversary Event Scheduled at Wright Brothers National Memorial

    On Wednesday, December 17, 2008 the First Flight Society and the National Park Service will continue the tradition of honoring the accomplishments of Wilbur and Orville Wright at the 105th anniversary celebration of the first heavier-than-air powered flight. The event will take place at Wright Brothers National Memorial; park entrance fees will be waived for the day.

    The observance will launch at 8:30 a.m. with a short wreath-laying ceremony at the exact spot where the famous first flight occurred. In this event, the Wright brothers and the witnesses of the first flight will be honored by the National Park Service and the descendents of the witnesses. This program segment will start at the Wright Brothers Visitor Center.

    The formal program begins at 9 a.m. in the First Flight Pavilion, preceded with a patriotic musical prelude by the Northeastern High School Band from Elizabeth City, NC. Nags Head and First Flight Elementary School students participating in the Wright Flight academic achievement program will lead the Pledge of Allegiance. Dr. Tom Crouch, Senior Curator at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum will introduce this year’s distinguished guest speaker - James May, President and COE of the Air Transport Association. Mr. May will provide a tribute to Herb Kelleher, the 2008 Paul E. Garber Shrine Inductee. Mr. Kelleher is the founder and former chairman and CEO of Southwest Airlines. For the past 11 years Fortune Magazine has listed Southwest Airlines as number five among America’s top ten most admired corporations.

    The annual aircraft fly-by will commence at 10:35 a.m. - the documented exact moment of the Wrights’ first flight. The military fly-by tribute is scheduled to include: F-18 Hornets from the U.S. Navy Oceana Air Station; F-15E Strike Eagles from Seymour Johnson Air Force Base; V-22 Ospreys from the U.S. Marine Corp New River Air Station; Black Hawk helicopters from Fort Bragg U.S. Army Base; and C-130 Hercules and JJ-60 Jay Hawk helicopters from the U.S. Coast Guard Elizabeth City Air Station. The C-54 Candy Bomber will conclude the fly-by.

    The park’s museum exhibits and activities throughout the day will provide an atmosphere of enjoyable learning about one of the greatest inventions of the 20th century. The visitor center will open at 8 a.m. Scheduled programs include: Flight Room Talk at 12 p.m., 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.; First Flight Tour at 1 p.m.; Wright Flight, a kite-building program for children, at 11 a.m. Children are also invited to participate in the park’s Junior Ranger program. The Wright Monument will be open for climbing from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

    For more information, call the National Park Service at (252) 441-7430.

    -NPS-

  • Interior Officials Release Rule Change to Allow National Park Visitors to Arm Themselves   5 years 36 weeks ago

    I find all these responses very biased and so off the point it is unbelieveable. The point is, if the state in which the national land is located has concealed weapon law(s) then state law applies. Why then can't someone who is legally licensed to carry a weapon in a car, in an RV, walking on the street, having a picnic in a local or state park not be permitted to carry a gun in a Nationall Park? If states believe a citizen can legally carry a gun on state property then why all the uproar about carrying a a gun in a National Park? If a state feels concealed gun laws are inappropriate then they can change them.

    For all you who are against guns, gun ownership, and a fear that everyone now entering a National Park are at a significantly higher risk of being killed or maimed get a life! Better yet, don't go the parks and that will make more room for us who do not have the fear that you do. I can now see a new money making scheme for the National Parks...they can sell life/accident insurance for those who fear for their lives when entering a National Park!

    By the way...this is the same policy that has been followed by the BLM and USFS and things seem to be going well there.

  • The Green Blood of the Coalition of NPS Retirees   5 years 36 weeks ago

    These silly retorts to the excellent article by Rick Smith have been refuted many times, with facts, on this website before.

    No one who has seen the way the NRA works on Capitol Hill believes the NRA is not a political organization. An extreme, but very effective organization. Friends and foes of the NRA alike have marveled that some of the most effective and coersive legislative practices including those practices effectively manipulating its constituency, were invented and refined by the NRA, and those practices have become models of destructive political behavior far and wide. It is not an accident that the pressure to put this ridiculous concealed weapons thing in effect was aimed at and went into effect in an election year. No one who maintains anything different is a straightforward observer.

    It is ridiculous to maintain the Second Amendment requires concealed carry, if the same regulations can also exclude places like government buildings. If assembled guns can be excluded in government buildings, they can by the same logic be excluded in parks.

    Maintaining, as some of these silly responders to Mr. Smith do, that "law abiding" weapon-packers does not complicate the job of enforcing the law against bad actors or reckless people demonstrates a failure to understand practical issues of law enforcement, and the difficult standard now imposed on the park rangers. Previously, you had probable cause to question or search any individual who was discovered to be carrying a concealed weapon. Now, it is unlikely you would pursue or even monitor a suspected carrier of concealed weapons. That means in fact that more damage to wildlife will occur. Rationalizing this as for the safety of the weapons carrier is the silliest argument of all.

    The mainstream of the United States wants the parks protected to a high degree. The mainstream of the United States trusts park rangers like Mr. Smith. The mainstream believes, when rangers say a standard of protection is required for a National Park, that it is required. The constant nonsense by NRA advocates to the contrary does not alter this.

    There was a time, in my lifetime, when the NRA was a respectable organization, not a political organization, dedicated to wildlife habitat and safe hunting. In those days, the people in the NRA were allies with environmental groups and big supporters of law enforcement officials. Now, it is an organization who's staff needs to make politicians jump before elections to demonstrate to the dues-paying membership that this staff should keep getting their salaries. Clearly, the Republicans who signed the Senate petition hoped for any smokescreen to shield them from the voters anger at their disgraceful support of George Bush for 8 whole years. Politics is the only thing this weapons-in-parks thing is about.

    Thank God America still has patriotic organizations like the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees who believe in the great Traditions of the United States, rather than the crop of vicious political organizations that keep Americans divided and paranoid, only to keep their staff employed.

  • Interior Officials Release Rule Change to Allow National Park Visitors to Arm Themselves   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Capt:
    The Natural Laws of Life? As in the Book of Genesis? As in Laws derived from personal idiosyncratic interpretation of the Bible?
    I thought we were talking about the United Sates of America, in which separation of Church and State is one of the guiding principles our society is built upon.

    Anonymous National Park Ranger:
    Thank you for your years of service. I'm glad that, in all the years I have been visiting National Parks, I personally have never encountered ANY "predator". Of course, I visit the parks in a very conscious and aware manner; doing so I feel has kept me safe, without ever feeling the need to carry any method of personal defense. And if I am to be the sudden victim of attack, I doubt there is anything I could use in defense that would have PREVENTED the attack.

    No doubt this is one of those issues that is deeply felt by most citizens. And I suspect this will remain one of those issues central to our Democracy that will never be finally decided to every citizens' satisfaction. I like every poster here wishes only the best outcome of every legislative decision made by the administration.

  • Moton Field Ceremony Highlights Grand Opening of the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site   5 years 36 weeks ago

    There is a lot of very detailed information about Tuskegee Army Airfield at
    this site. The property is privately owned. I don’t know whether there are any plans to incorporate any element of the site into the park.

  • Interior Officials Release Rule Change to Allow National Park Visitors to Arm Themselves   5 years 36 weeks ago

    I spent almost 20 years as a National Park Ranger in the Protection Division. I can not imagine going into a National Park Service Area and not having a firearm to protect myself and my family.
    I have seen too much to believe that the Rangers can always be there to protect me and mine from the predators that are in the parks, both two and four legged....
    For those who say that "Blood will Run in the Parks" it already is, just read the morning report...
    .
    I applaud the common sense ruling by Interior

  • Interior Officials Release Rule Change to Allow National Park Visitors to Arm Themselves   5 years 36 weeks ago

    How many people carry a concealed weapons permit? I can't quote that statistic but I am sure some better informed blogger than me can. That's who we are talking about. It is a very small percentage of the population. Those who illegally carry weapons into a national park will continue to do so, just as they have always done. Now, a small fraction of the population can legally carry a weapon into the park. Those with permits are not the ones assaulting park rangers. And, as quoted in Kurt's article, U.S. Park rangers are some of the most assaulted federal law enforcement officers in the country. If someone is brazen enough to assault a law enforcemnt official in a National Park, why do some of the bloggers pretend as though it couldn't happen to your average park visitor? Do you think concealed weapons permit holders are the ones assaulting park rangers?

    From all of debate, one would think we are going to see throngs of armed park visitors. Let's keep it in perspective. Those with permits are trained, conscientious individuals issued a permit for a specific reason. And, as said earlier, those carrying concealed weapons carry them because of professional responsibilities and/or due to human threat. I seriously doubt many permits have been requested to protect against bear attacks in the back country. Nor do people bother to get concealed weapon permit to randomly and malicously shoot wildlife.

    As far as the Bush administration actions go, why not now? He has a few weeks to take care of unfinished business. He needs to get some of it done.

  • The Green Blood of the Coalition of NPS Retirees   5 years 36 weeks ago

    "Once again, political leaders in the Bush administration have ignored the preferences of the American public by succumbing to political pressure, in this case generated by the National Rifle Association," said Bill Wade, president of the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees.
    What source does Mr. Wade use for the preferences comment? The NRA represents 4.5 million + law abiding citizens from across the US. They are not a political organization.
    "This regulation will put visitors, employees and precious resources of the National Park System at risk".
    This comment is so absurd that it must be a joke. Visitors are already at risk from robbers, rapist and gang-bangers by being unarmed and unable to defend themselves.

  • What are the Odds?!   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Bob -

    Thanks for sharing a wonderful story!

  • Interior Officials Release Rule Change to Allow National Park Visitors to Arm Themselves   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Toothdoctor makes an excellent point above on the risks of relying on a handgun for defense against a bear attack - although the risk of such attacks is extremely rare. I commend toothdoctor's excellent analysis of the "wildlife threat" and a proper response.

    This point is so important to the safety of anyone visiting parks in bear country that I'll repeat below information I posted on a separate thread on Traveler on the subject of guns. (I'll ask for the indulgence of any of you who have read the other thread as well.)

    If you're really concerned about a bear attack, here are two suggestions: (1) educate yourself about proper outdoor behavior to avoid most problems with bears in the first place; (2) keep your handgun in a safe place and carry and know how to use bear pepper spray for the rare cases when defensive measures are needed.

    An excellent summary of the subject is found in a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service article, "Bear Spray vs. Bullets - Which Offers Better Protection?" The full text is found at this link, but here's an excerpt:

    "When it comes to self defense against grizzly bears, the answer is not as obvious as it may seem. In fact, experienced hunters are surprised to find that despite the use of firearms against a charging bear, they were attacked and badly hurt. Evidence of human-bear encounters even suggests that shooting a bear can escalate the seriousness of an attack, while encounters where firearms are not used are less likely to result in injury or death of the human or the bear. While firearms can kill a bear, can a bullet kill quickly enough -- and can the shooter be accurate enough -- to prevent a dangerous, even fatal, attack?"

    "The question is not one of marksmanship or clear thinking in the face of a growling bear, for even a skilled marksman with steady nerves may have a slim chance of deterring a bear attack with a gun. Law enforcement agents for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have experience that supports this reality -- based on their investigations of human-bear encounters since 1992, persons encountering grizzlies and defending themselves with firearms suffer injury about 50% of the time. During the same period, persons defending themselves with pepper spray escaped injury most of the time, and those that were injured experienced shorter duration attacks and less severe injuries....a person’s chance of incurring serious injury from a charging grizzly doubles when bullets are fired versus when bear spray is used." [Emphasis added is mine.]

    "Awareness of bear behavior is the key to mitigating potential danger. Detecting signs of a bear and avoiding interaction, or understanding defensive bear behaviors, like bluff charges, are the best ways of escaping injury."

    If this rule change for guns holds up, it would be both tragic and ironic if it leads to people being killed or injured in an extremely rare bear attack, simply because they used a handgun in a situation where it is not the safe or appropriate response.

    I realize I won't change the minds of people who are concerned about all those supposed "2-legged" predators in parks, but I sincerely hope those who are determined to carry a weapon will educate themselves about the proper response to a bear attack. Those concealable handguns are not the best answer in those cases!

  • Interior Officials Release Rule Change to Allow National Park Visitors to Arm Themselves   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Warren Z

    Where in what I posted above did I even slightly refer to the Second Amendment ? Or to any Law written by the hand of Man ?
    I wrote only of inherent inalienable rights granted at birth by the Natural Laws of Life.

    To a trained person the elbow or heel of the palm can be just as deadly as any fire arm made. Keep in mind there is only ONE level of dead. Shall we outlaw Elbows ? Hands ? Feet ? Knuckles ?

    I do not use or need any legal writings or hocus pocus to justify my carrying Any Means of self defense that I so chose. If I chose to defend myself with an all metal ball point pen in my hand, a Colt .45 semi-automatic pistol or with the jawbone of an Ass then that is my choice isn't it ?

    How does my choice of defense tool even touch your life at all ?
    Where did you get the idea that you have all the answers and that we should all believe the way you think is correct ?

    When did the Bill of Rights become a listing of Rights allowed by Government rather than the listing of restrictions ON Government that it was written to be ?

    I do not need the Second Amendment to hide behind. I Will defend my life as I see fit your opinions and laws notwithstanding.

    Take some Personal Responsibility, Sirrah.

  • Moton Field Ceremony Highlights Grand Opening of the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Congrat's on the Park-Site Grand Openning in October, it is truly a remarkable thing in today's environment. My question centers - on what will ever happen to restoring not only Moton Field back to its "primary days" but what about "the place where it really happen" in the restoration of Tuskegee Army Air Field (which I believe was about 10 miles North/Northwest of Moton Field). Restoring Moton Field is a "good first step" but until TAAF is re-claimed and restored, TAI's real history will not be able to be re-told in its true accuracy in Pres. Franklin Rosevelt & Gen Hap Arnold's "Noble Experiment" and the fame our Tuskegee Airman really deserve will only be partially told ??? !!!

    Again a great beginning but much more is required in bringing back the Tuskegee Airman to their real "former glory" by restoring not only Moton Field but the real TAI training facility at the old but not forgotten TAAF...

  • Interior Officials Release Rule Change to Allow National Park Visitors to Arm Themselves   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Warren Z said, "Again I am asking: will someone that supports this new rule please tell me why they are not happy with the Bush administration for waiting until the final hour to publish this rule?"

    Actually, this rule change has been a LONG time coming, and it is LONG overdue. There has been a LOT of foot-dragging. I quote this tiny tidbit of information. Please note the date (2003):

    "Starting in 2003, NRA staff began meeting with officials at the U.S. Department of the Interior to change this regulation and allow state law to govern the carrying and transportation of firearms in national parks and wildlife refuges -- as it does in national forests and on BLM lands."

  • Interior Officials Release Rule Change to Allow National Park Visitors to Arm Themselves   5 years 36 weeks ago

    I do not know if this argument has already been brought up, either here or in another post, and I apologize if it has, but I fear that this policy change may result in an increased risk to the average person. I am not saying that every Park visitor is now going to be carrying a gun, but I would think it is safe to assume that the incidence is going to go up; and with that perceived increase in a sense of security, we will see an increased amount of visitors venturing into the backcountry, many of whom don't have any right being there, because of either a lack of basic backcountry knowledge or skill.

    Now before I get hammered for being some kind of rugged elitist, I want to state that I count myself in the aforementioned group of people that shouldn't be out there. I'm very 'Bear Aware', but have no practical experience, and I know my limits. But anymore it seems that I'm in the minority in that regards. I fear that people will view their firearms as a tool to keep themselves out of harms way, much like many do with their cell phones (a topic for another post), and put themselves into situations where they shouldn't have been in the first place.

    I will admit that a gun would help protect the wielder from many a small or mid-sized animal that one would happen to run afoul of while hiking/camping, due to any number of reasons. But these small or mid-sized animals don't really pose much of a threat to people. When startled, if not cornered, they will run the other way. It's the larger animals that you need to be concerned with, such as a black/brown bear or mountain lion. And since I'm talking about the average person, who would most likely not be carrying a high powered rifle or comparable weapon, but something smaller that would not pack the requisite stopping power, I feel that they will have unnecessarily put themselves in harms way. I'll let you figure out how the confrontation would end.

    All that being said, I'm as tired as the next guy of the federal government continuously interceding and limiting the number of ways that we can hurt ourselves. I grew up with way less legislative restriction and regulation and I turned out just fine. But I can't see any reason to have changed the old law in this case, of having the firearm separated and cased. If you wanted or needed your firearm, you still had it at your disposal. But that's it too. When visiting a National Park you shouldn't need a firearm to begin with. If you don't have the background, then you stay in the frontcountry and you'll be fine. If you have the know-how and venture into the backcountry, then again you should be fine.

    Maybe you will find this as too simplified view, but this is a simple world that we live in. That is until politics and political views get in the way. Or at least it should be.

  • Interior Officials Release Rule Change to Allow National Park Visitors to Arm Themselves   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Capt:

    The Second Amendment states:
    "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

    militia: noun
    - a military force that is raised form the civil population to supplement a regular army in an emergency.
    - a military force that engages in rebel or terrorist activities, typically in opposition to a regular army.
    - all able-bodied civilians eligible by law for military service.

    SO... personal arms are necessary in the event that a civilian militia is needed to SUPPLEMENT a REGULAR ARMY in an EMERGENCY,
    OR... personal arms are necessary if the INTENT is to gather and create TERRORIST opposition to an ARMY,
    OR... personal arms may be seen as a definer of the able-bodied, READY FOR MILITARY SERVICE if called,
    AND... the government needs us to use our personal Arms.

    In the framework of the Amendment itself, our right to keep and bear Arms is given IN THE EVENT that a civilian militia becomes necessary. It DOES NOT provide us the right to form our own individual one-man militias, always at the ready for any perceived threat to our own PERSONAL safety.
    Every definition of the word "militia" within the framework of the way the Second Amendment is worded relates specifically to assisting an established Army. When have you EVER in all your visits to a National Park been called upon to, on the spot, defend the State, i.e. The United States of America, against an army invading the park you are visiting at the time? For that matter, when ever in your life have you ever been called upon to use your personal Arms to, on the spot, defend your country?

    How, in any way, does the Second Amendment, and the dictionary definition of the word "militia", give us the right to carry our loaded Arms wherever we please? IT DOES NOT.
    The Second Amendment does not refer to 21st century fears of two-legged predators lurking behind every tree and boulder, waiting to give us an opportunity to defend ourselves against attacks on our PERSONAL safety. It refers to our ability to assist the established Army if called upon to do so.

  • Interior Officials Release Rule Change to Allow National Park Visitors to Arm Themselves   5 years 36 weeks ago

    (Note to those readers who do not like big words: you will not like this post, there are some big words in here.)

    Frank,

    There are already parks where personal vehicles are not allowed. That being one of the rules of entry, visitors respect that.
    It would be interesting to hear statistics on how many personal rights advocates per year insist on driving their cars where they are not allowed. Might we find a loaded concealed weapon or two in their vehicles as well?
    The NPS could restrict cars from every park and I wouldn't care, as long as some provision for access was available to visitors. In fact, from a resource protection perspective a ban on personal motorized vehicles might be a very good thing.

    You see Frank, I put my trust in the decision makers of the NPS when I feel they are making decisions consistent with their mission. And I, like you, voice my concerns when I think the rules are unnecessary or restrictive in some way. But I balance my personal rights against the greater mission and needs of the greater good when making those personal choices.
    Large organizations, private and public, do not threaten me. Rules that might restrict my actions in some way do not automatically make the rule makers tyrants in my eyes. But that's just how I personally view the world.

    Why, if I am opposed to carrying loaded personal weapons in National Parks, am I anti-Second Amendment?

    When it comes right down to the nitty gritty Frank, I am not anti anything. Sure, I do enjoy the debating aspect of an issue like this. But will I ever personally own and carry a loaded hand gun? Probably not. Do I really care if you do? No.
    I just don't feel the need to question the NPS on it's ban on personal firearms because I can see the larger picture and respect the decision making process they used when making the decision.

    In relation to interpreting The Bill of Rights and The Constitution I believe that contemporary circumstances and needs must be part of the discussion and decision making process. I do not think our founding fathers expected interpretation of these great documents to forever remain within a 19th century perspective.
    But the debate will forever be muddled by that nasty little prefatory clause at the beginning of the Second Amendment: "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State..."
    I get confused by this statement, because individual visitors carrying their own personal loaded weapons, wherever and whenever they please, looks to me like thousands of one-person militias marching around all over the place in search of a tyrant to battle.
    Is your intent that they will all get together and create one big militia inside the Parks? Why is the militia meeting in a National Park? I just don't understand...

    The NPS wisely stays away from this muddy debate as well, focusing on the resource protection aspect of the issue which the DOI and the Bush administration chose to ignore when writing the rule. And there is no denying that the administration chose this course of action in a last ditch effort to appease the NRA and other organizations that could possibly increase the Republican vote in the next election.

    Again I am asking: will someone that supports this new rule please tell me why they are not happy with the Bush administration for waiting until the final hour to publish this rule? Why does no one find this suspect?
    To me the silence on this question smacks of the naughty boy in the back of the class, shooting spitballs, but getting away with it because the teacher never catches him. But that's just me.

  • NPS Retirees Oppose Carrying Guns in National Parks   5 years 36 weeks ago

    WOW! I did not know the thousands of local,state and federal agent's and police officers,who usually have more than one firearm in the home,have such high rates of shooting accidents, suicides and homicides in thier homes. Being raised in the home of a peace officer,I am suprised that my family and I are still around in light of the Brady info.

  • Interior Officials Release Rule Change to Allow National Park Visitors to Arm Themselves   5 years 36 weeks ago

    The inalienable right to defend one's self is inherent to All Living Things humans included.
    Would you outlaw a kittens claws until it has demonstrated it's restraint in their use ?
    Would you outlaw the thorns on an Acacia tree until it reaches the age of maturity ?
    How far will you let your fear of " fill in the blank " run your life ?
    Why do you think your fears give you the right to try to run everyone's life ?

    The fact that We the People LET our elected officials violate the "Law of the Land" without consequences is how we find ourselves in the ridiculous situation we are in today.
    Those who suggest that removing all of the [unconstitutional BTW] gun laws would result in a general blood bath are simply publicly stating that they Do Not Trust Any Other Human Being.
    We don't need outside terrorists we have our own trying to foist their fears off on all of the population.

    "Remove guns and we will all be safe." Hooey.
    Do you actually think it is a coincidence that nearly all of the mass shootings we have had have happened in "Gun Free Zones" ?
    Do you not realize that "professional criminals" do not follow any laws let alone the illegal "gun laws" ?

    I would like to see Open Carry become as common place as shoes in restaurants.

  • Hikers, Bikers and National Parks   5 years 36 weeks ago

    The mountain biker in me want to respond one way, however the preservationist and organic act stickler in me is pulling in a very different direction.

    To me there is very little argument about the purpose of National Parks. They are museums of the natural world. They protect the unique, the important, and the fragile. Most importantly they provide an avenue for the people of this and other countries to experience parks. Yet that must be done in a way that will forever maintains the quality of both the physical resources and the natural experience. In actuality, that is indeed impossible, as any interaction changes (sometimes only very subtly) a resource or experience.

    In my mind those rules should be one way (perhaps the most important way) that new activities are measured and judged. Those that pass the test should move on the be judged in other ways.

    In some ways, mtn biking in parks can pass that test. It gives visitors a powerful experience of the natural resource, however it does so in a way that impacts the resource in new ways. Further, it has the power to impact the experience of others. Managers do not need additional conflict and they don't need to stress their limited budgets to repair additional trail impacts (they have a hard time keeping up as it is).

    To me this means that unless mtn biking is done only on resources that are highly resistant or resilient to impacts and where either time or place separate bikers from hikers and horseback riders, permitting bikes in parks will lead to problems.

    Finally, how would this impact parks that are managing backcountry as though it were wilderness (sometimes where wilderness is considered to be only yards off main roads or developed areas)? Maybe it would spur on the wilderness movement in parks. Maybe, it would put a great deal of power in the hands of IMBA, making it harder for a park to manage its own land (just look at Yellowstone... its winter use is managed and influenced by an outside group).

  • Interior Officials Release Rule Change to Allow National Park Visitors to Arm Themselves   5 years 36 weeks ago

    This isn't about the perception of personal safety; it's about the Constitution. I won't repeat those arguments here again, but think the following rewording of Kurt's argument is equally, if oppositely, important:

    And really, is this a wildlife safety issue? As noted elsewhere in my comments, the NPS does not keep nationwide statistics on poaching.

    Some perspective:

    * Millions of animals are killed each year by automobiles.

    * Some animals hit and killed by automobiles are endangered species.

    * 45,000 people die a year from automobile accidents.

    In light of that, will the anti-Second Amendment crowd refuse to drive cars in national parks?

  • Interior Officials Release Rule Change to Allow National Park Visitors to Arm Themselves   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Slant numbers and use big words to confuse, but if your life comes down to being accousted on the trail or in your camp by a two or four footed animal(s), it doesn't make any difference, there is not ranger. Period! Bottom line!!! They are there to take a report and in my case the next day. I understand that. Incidentally, no need to shoot any wildlife unless they are rabid! It happens. About 8 times a year and rarely results in human death because someone has a gun. These aren't all nat'l park incidents. I read a lot and don't record everything.

    Lot of crime in nat'l parks though. Don't won't the publc to know of course. I go to our nat'l parks to get away, but not to be victimized. Never mind the people that have no idea wha is going on around them. I'm a medical professional and carry a 22 pound first aid bag. My radio & pistol pouch is much lighter. I migh save your life!!!

  • Interior Officials Release Rule Change to Allow National Park Visitors to Arm Themselves   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Rick:

    This current administration is masterful at manipulating legalese to justify it's own agenda. What a shame that you can't see through the DOI's wordy smokescreen. Or perhaps you don't mind how manipulative the Bush administration has become in it's final days because you happen to agree with this particular decision.

    Again I ask, if this new rule is so necessary, why did the administration wait until late in it's own game to push it through? Because they know that the vast majority of elected officials and the general public don't want it and would not support it. Forgive me if I'm mistaken, but doesn't majority opinion rule in a democracy?

    If this tangential extrapolation of the Second Amendment is so necessary, why did our Commander-In-Chief and his political appointees at the DOI publish this rule change in such a cowardly way? They published it on a Friday, when most folks turn off the news, during the last month of their reign of power, when the country is now focused on the incoming administration.

    Why aren't the supporters of this rule change asking the Bush administration why it waited so long to make this change???
    I guess when we win the game, asking how honestly we come by our spoils sometimes shines too harsh a light on the process...

    Why not let trained professionals handle "the criminals who are everywhere" and keep our personal guns at home?
    I have been visiting national, state, and town parks my entire life. I have visited historic sites in small towns, and large urban parks in the largest cities in our country. And not once have I ever fallen victim to "the criminals who are everywhere".
    (But I have been the victim of violent crime, right outside my own home, not in a national park... more on that later...)
    It's interesting that the only "criminals" I have ever been aware of are visitors who have chosen to ignore established resource protection and safety rules because they felt their "personal rights" were in some way being violated if they couldn't walk wherever they wanted to walk, or do whatever they wanted to do, regardless of the fact that they implicitly agreed to said regulations when they entered the parks' boundaries.
    I've seen visitors ignore posted warnings and go off trail into environmentally fragile areas. I've seen campers bring alcohol into campgrounds that do not allow it. I've seen other violations of established rules and regulations...
    and EVERY time I've seen those people questioned by rangers or law enforcement they become argumentative and self-righteous about their actions. Could you just imagine if one of those people had a loaded gun? I shudder to think about the possibilities if the visitor with the loaded gun is having a bad week, suffering some stress, had a little too much to drink... and decides his gun is the best way to resolve the situation between himself and the ranger. I go to parks to get away from that level of human possibility...
    Rather than waiting for the day you feel it necessary to defend yourself with your loaded firearm, why not become a law enforcement professional yourself and handle the folks "who are actually committing the crimes" in a lawful and professional manner?
    And if you are unhappy with the current level of trained law enforcement within our National Parks, then I would suggest you lobby your elected officials to increase the budget of what has become the most woefully underfunded Federal agency.
    A larger law enforcement budget that pays trained professionals to handle the marauding swarms of criminals that have apparently overrun our National Parks seems like a good way to handle the perceived safety problem. I trust law enforcement. Why don't you?

    Have you ever been the victim of a violent crime? As I mentioned earlier I have. It occurred on the street right outside my own home. Before the crime I never once expected police to be everywhere every moment of the day to protect me, and after the crime I've never once felt that a loaded handgun would have made the situation any different.
    Most acts of violence, whether they be random or pre-meditated, are over in seconds, barely enough time to think about defending oneself. Having a loaded gun at the ready wouldn't really be more effective in defending oneself in that split-second of happening than using a fist, or the rocks underfoot on the trail, or a tree branch, or just running away. So I ask you: is carrying a loaded gun about self-defense, the perception of personal safety, or an unconscious hope that someday one might get to righteously use the loaded weapon he so proudly carries?

    Most folks in favor of this rule change seem to only want to discuss the personal rights aspect of the issue. Fine. (I understand the argument: I personally feel that every citizen should exercise their right to vote lest it be taken away from us.)
    For the record, just because I don't believe personal weapons are necessary when visiting a National Park does not mean I am against our legal right to own a gun. But our right to own a gun does not logically imply we have the right to take it wherever we want to, whenever we want to. ANY other belief to the contrary starts us down the slippery slope of anarchy. Is that what we're after here?

    If not being allowed to carry a loaded weapon on my person at all times means I will not fully enjoy my time spent in a National Park because I just can't stop thinking about how my personal rights are being violated, perhaps I should examine why I feel the need to take a loaded weapon into the parks in the first place.
    While we figure this out for ourselves, let's keep our guns at home where they belong.

  • Interior Officials Release Rule Change to Allow National Park Visitors to Arm Themselves   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Rick, I've been wondering where you've been lurking! I'm kinda disappointed with your comment, as I thought I did a fairly good job of sticking to the middle of the road on reporting Interior's decision.

    Now, I'm not an attorney, so I can't give you 100 percent, iron-clad feedback to your questions, but there are a couple openings that I think park advocates will try to take in challenging this. One is that the rule came out less than 60 days out from the change in administrations, so the Obama administration -- if it were so inclined, and I don't know if it is, despite what Fred believes -- might simply try to quash this rule.

    The outgoing Bush administration might think it doesn't need that 60-day window, as it doesn't believe there's a $100 million impact related to this decision and so 30 days notice is good enough.

    What might prove more important, though, and what the park advocates might concentrate on, is suing on the grounds that Interior didn't follow NEPA in promulgating this rule. If they do, and they're successful, the rule will very likely die a slow, withering death. Until the political power shifts once again.

    I think relying simply on what DOI's legal staff has concluded is a waste of time, particularly when you consider how the Justice Department has operated in recent years. And don't forget, it was a bit more than eight years ago when DOI's legal staff concluded that snowmobiles should be phased out of Yellowstone, and you know where that got us.

    As for your contention that "the anti-gun comments here are still the stereotypical, bigoted, disparaging, emotional/hysterical, illogical, personal opinions," come on, read some of the pro-gun opinions. Some are off the wall. As for the Heller decision, correct me if I'm wrong (as I know you will), but didn't that opinion hold that the 2nd amendment most definitely applies to you in your home, but the federal government has the right to institute reasonable controls elsewhere in society?

    If that is the correct interpretation (and I think it is), what would be your reaction if the next administration instituted such controls in the national parks? That's it's unconstitutional? That you'll pack wherever you please?

    As for how the bulk of the comments came down, my information is from NPCA, the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees, Association for National Park Rangers, and the Park Ranger Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police. But I understand if you quibble with their counts. But then, it doesn't really matter, does it? After all, a majority of the 300,000+ comments filed in the Yellowstone snowmobile matter were for phasing out snowmobiles, and Interior officials ignored those comments as well (and went against what science recommended), so it seems that under the Bush administration democracy doesn't matter when it comes to public lands management.

    And really, is this a personal safety issue? As noted above, according to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report, there were 1.65 violent crimes per 100,000 national park visitors in 2006. 1.65, Rick.

    Some perspective:

    * The U.S. murder rate is 5.9 per 100,000

    * In 2007 more than 41,000 died in traffic accidents in the United States

    * 36,000 Americans die from the flu annually

    * 112,000 die from obesity

    In light of that, will concealed weapons owners refuse to drive cars? Line up for flu shots? Go on a diet? Kinda seems the safest place they could be would be a national park.

    So much vitriol is spewed -- much of it anonymously, which is somewhat curious -- on this issue. Don't we have better things to invest our time, emotion, and efforts on?

  • Interior Officials Release Rule Change to Allow National Park Visitors to Arm Themselves   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Good blog! Been following this subject and glad common sense prevailed. Concealed weapons pemit holders are trained and have undergone a thorough background check. Obviously some of the writers here are just plain ignorant. I didn't say stupid, just ignorant. Remember, when seconds count ........ the ranger is just a phone call away. Oh yeah, your cell phone may not work, huh? Try prayer or Smith & Wesson.

  • Interior Officials Release Rule Change to Allow National Park Visitors to Arm Themselves   5 years 37 weeks ago

    Kurt said,

    "Despite the potential affect on national park wildlife and resources, the administration did not conduct an environmental review as required by law, and some believe that opens the door for a lawsuit to halt the rule change:

    Tell me how your claim is more legally relevant than what Interior (legal staff) has concluded:

    "...we have analyzed the final rule under NEPA and concluded that (i) the action is subject to a categorical exclusion under 43 C.F.R. § 46.210 since the final regulation is in the nature of a legal change to existing regulations, and (ii) no "extraordinary circumstances" exist which would prevent the proposed action from being classified as categorically excluded. !d. This decision is fully described in our decision 17
    document dated November 18, 2008, which is available to the public at http://www.doi.gov/."

    I'm not surprised that the anti gun comments here are still the stereotypical, bigoted, disparaging, emotional/hysterical, illogical, personal opinions that completely ignore fact, Constitutional law (see Supreme Court Heller decision), 40 states' successful right-to-carry legislation and, essentially, have absolutely no merit or basis in truth.

    Read the Interior Department documents that Lone Hiker has provided the link to above.

    Kurt, you claim, "The administration received almost 140,000 comments, the vast majority of which opposed the proposal to allow loaded guns in national parks." Could you please provide data to support this?

    Again, why don't any of the smug, holier-than-thou anti-gun posts express a single similar hissy fit concerning the criminals who are everywhere and who are actually committing the crimes?

    Rick