Recent comments

  • Traveler's View: Concealed Weapons Have No Place In Our National Park System   6 years 11 weeks ago

    So Fred, I'm curious. If the regulations were changed to allow "concealed" carry, how would you conceal your weapon during warm weather if it wasn't in your pack? Wouldn't a holster be out in the open and against regs? And what if you're just out and about in the park, not in the backcountry? Where/how do you carry a "concealed" weapon?

  • Traveler's View: Concealed Weapons Have No Place In Our National Park System   6 years 11 weeks ago

    How come everything is underlined??

  • Traveler's View: Concealed Weapons Have No Place In Our National Park System   6 years 11 weeks ago

    I can't speak for all CCW holders, but I DON'T carry my pistol in my backpack. What if I wanted to take it off while I took a break? Would I just set it on the ground and then wander over to look at that pretty flower? Not me, brother!! My pistol is somewhere on my person every second, or it's in the lockbox. There are several thousand different types of holsters on the market. I use two different types. One allows me to "present" quickly. The other one allows me to "present" VERY quickly.

    As far as being responsible, NO test can determine someone's future actions. Look at drunk drivers. If we could test them in advance of their unsafe act, would we issue them a driver's license?

    And I would gladly pay a fine if I had been able to prevent a crime. As one of our Rangers commented elsewhere in the NPT, if he found out I was carrying, he would take it and hold it until I left the Park. Reasonable, AND I would have the knowledge of having done the RIGHT thing even if it was against DOI regulations.

  • Alexander Hamilton's "Country Home" on the Move in New York City   6 years 11 weeks ago

    Dear Anonymous - The NPS does not manage New York City and has no responsibility for city corruption. Hamilton Grange is a national park.

  • Congressman Accuses Sec. Kempthorne of Pandering to NRA on Gun Issue   6 years 11 weeks ago

    most states' application process involves some questions about past mental health history

    Don't confuse or try and equate psychological evaluations with "some questions about past mental health". Any idiot can answer "some questions" about their past mental health history properly. An in-depth evaluation is a completely different animal, designed to test your stability and thought processes through a variety of similar, but unrelated qualifiers. It takes virtually a court-ordered trip to a padded cell to be denied an ownership permit, and even then there are numerous cited instances where these same "certifiable" lunatics legally purchased handguns and used them on the general public. An assessment on the other hand, is specifically designed to identify and eliminate those people who are trying to give the "right" awswer to a series of questions by approaching the topic from a variety of angles, testing to determine your thought processes, not your "right" answers. If the processes vary, they know you're full of crap, and just attempting to "ace" the test by concealing your true agenda. The quick and easy application process is not at all, in any way, an apples-to-apples comparison.

  • Congressman Accuses Sec. Kempthorne of Pandering to NRA on Gun Issue   6 years 11 weeks ago

    Anonymous,

    According to this report (which is eight years old, by the way), violent crimes by CCW permit holders in Texas increased every year from 1996 to 1999. Over that period, according to the study, there were 27 murders/non-negligent manslaughters, two forcible rapes, five robberies, 376 aggravated assaults, and 454 "other assaults."

    Rick previously had asked for proof "of a permit holder committing a gun crime against another citizen," and these statistics, produced for the Texas Concealed Handgun Association, certainly seem to provide that proof.

    Beyond the violent crime, these stats also show that non-violent crime by CCW permit holders in Texas also steadily increased year after year.

    Are the incident rates for the general population higher? Yes, but is that surprising in light of the greater pool of gun wielders? And interestingly, for the years cited some might say the murder rates aren't drastically different -- 5.2 per 100,000 for the general population and 4.0 per 100,000 for permit holders.

  • Artists' Paint Pots Area in Yellowstone National Park Temporarily Closed Due to Thin Surface Crust   6 years 11 weeks ago

    Being well prepared makes good sense to me, Bob. I do have a question about the snake bite kit, though. Here in South Carolina, where people are outdoorsy and snake bites are not just a theoretical hazard (we have four venomous species), medical authorities have told people very emphatically that they shouldn't fool around with snake bite kits. "Your snake bite kit is your car keys," is basically what we are told. I do realize that people can get dangerously bitten in remote areas where medical attention may be hours away. Are you saying that the snake bite kit is appropriate for that sort of situation?

  • Congressman Accuses Sec. Kempthorne of Pandering to NRA on Gun Issue   6 years 11 weeks ago

    Kurt:
    You need to actually read the report this information came from. The actual report is much different than the misinformation you are spreading. Read the study at: http://www.txchia.org/sturdevant.pdf

  • Traveler's View: Concealed Weapons Have No Place In Our National Park System   6 years 11 weeks ago

    Adding guns to the National Parks is complete contrary to the concept of the parks being a sanctuary. Guns kill, people with guns murder. Allowing guns in parks will only increase the likelyhood of some idiot killing the very animals protected by the sanctuary of the Natioanl Parks. It is time that the NRA woke up and realized that yes we do have gun rights, but not everywhere and not in all situations. Gun limits are not gun restrictions, just laws and guidelines to protect others from illegal gun use. NO! NO! NO to guns in the National Park. Do I need to be worried about a stray shot killing me as I hike Yellowstone, Crater Lake or Great Smokey?

  • Artists' Paint Pots Area in Yellowstone National Park Temporarily Closed Due to Thin Surface Crust   6 years 11 weeks ago

    It's awesome to see the Park Rangers on top of the situation so quickly. Preparedness is #1. I've been group group leader several times down into the Grand Canyon NP and tell my folks to be over prepared for the worst. Carry a first aid kit and snake bite kit which includes both a sling for injured bones and a burn kit for accidents just as this. Hopefully more Fed $$$ will become available to assist in the proper sustaining of these precious resources for both the environment as well as the public who wish to view them. Can't wait to get to Yellowstone, will be there for a week in June.

  • Congressman Accuses Sec. Kempthorne of Pandering to NRA on Gun Issue   6 years 11 weeks ago

    Anonymous pondered"

    > Don't you think Rick it might be wise to implement some kind of psychological testing before one can be issued a concealed (handgun) weapon?

    Except for Vermont, most states' application process involves some questions about past mental health history. Usually the disqualifier is whether the person was committed _unwillingly_ to mental health treatment. This is not the case when asking people who apply for drivers licenses and whether they have a drinking problem. More people are killed by drunk drivers than by mentally ill concealed carry permit holders.

    and later Rick Smith declares:

    > Many disagree with your assertion that carrying a weapon is guaranteed by the Constitution and therefore is an "American value."

    You can disagree that the Second Amendment guarantees a right to "keep and BEAR ARMS" but you're wrong. Article 1, Section 21 of the Pennsylvania constitution, which existed prior, made it perfectly clear, "The right of the citizens to bear arms in defence of themselves and the State shall not be questioned." The Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to do the same. And - you'll love this - it does, in principle, provide for possession of firearms like the M-16, M-4, SAW, or MP5 - any weapons typically carried by an individual into battle. To date, we have the Firearms Act of 1934 that regulates automatic firearms so you must pass a background check and pay a $200 fee to the Treasury Department for each automatic firearm you are registering. Since laws were changed in 1986 the availability of automatic firearms for public purchase has created ridiculous supply/demand price inflation. Typically, you'll pay approximately more than $12,000 or more for an M-16.

    I don't expect Rick Smith to be down at the Knob Creek machine gun shoot but I thought I'd throw that in to explain that as an American citizen you may own the same firearms the military uses because, the individual citizen is the militia - not the National Guard - as defined by the Constitution and fantasized by the gun banners.

    This little bit of trivia may not be an "American value" in your mind but it is fact. District of Columbia v. Heller will settle this decisively very soon and end the delusional and myopic claims of gun banners.

  • National Park Service Director Bomar Scheduled to Meet With Mountain Bike Community   6 years 11 weeks ago

    I am in my 40s and have been a bike rider since I was VERY little and a mountain biker since the mid 80s. I would have to agree with Marylander that most of us are very respectful of hikers, in truth most of us still hike on ocassion. There are places within National parks that I have dreams of returning to, yet haven't been able to because of time constraints. If I was able to ride my bike I would be able to triple my mileage for a given day and enjoy some of the places I enjoyed in my youth.
    The forum response is ludicrious, of course industry does support IMBA, but it is a user group. Who would work for a Mountain bike company without riding a mountain bike?? Have you looked at the supporters of the Sierra Club lately? I bet there is a backpack company listed. I will not deny that bikers do add wear and tear to trails, but I have been part of trail building workshops and when done properly trail design eliminates this problem.
    IMBA is truely a stewardship organization with an under-tapped work force to create, maintain and improve trails within the national parks system.

  • Congressman Accuses Sec. Kempthorne of Pandering to NRA on Gun Issue   6 years 11 weeks ago

    Rick,

    "Many disagree with your assertion that carrying a weapon is guaranteed by the Constitution ..." That's why men like Patrick Henry and Gouverneur Morris insisted that certain rights be spelled out in the "Bill of Rights", they knew that unless they were, people like you would deny them.

    Far from blinding me to the fact that "lots of us think differently", the NRA has alerted me, and millions of people just like me, to your intentions. We stand ready to defend our rights and, as the Democrat party has learned, it's a fight we intend to win.

    The fact that "lots of people" have different opinions is not what makes America great. What makes America great is that the founders realized that some people would work to undermine the liberties that God has granted each of us and they established a government designed to frustrate their efforts. I'm only too happy to frustrate yours.

  • Couple That Was Lost In Grand Canyon National Park Had Good Survival Plan   6 years 11 weeks ago

    I am so glad the two of you were found. Congrats!

  • Traveler's View: Concealed Weapons Have No Place In Our National Park System   6 years 11 weeks ago

    Jurjen,

    I think the statistics -- no matter whose you choose to use -- speak for themselves. The more guns in circulation, the more folks get shot, whether intentionally or accidentally, whether by criminals or by guns owned by any legal gun owner, whether they hold a CCW permit or not.

    Again, the point I've tried to make in this post and in comments to others is that the concern doesn't necessarily revolve around the "responsible" gun owner, but more so the irresponsible, of which statistics seem to indicate there are plenty.

    The official bestowing of a CCW permit doesn't necessarily carry with it all the wisdom, patience, and judgment that you and other gun proponents would have everyone believe. Wouldn't it seem reasonable that the fact that there are so many varying state laws pertaining to guns and what one must do to obtain a CCW permit (or for states to grant reciprocity) is evidence that there are many different views of who exactly is a competent gun owner?

    And through this entire debate no one has answered a question raised long ago: If "concealed carry" is allowed in the parks, where will you pack your weapon? If it's to be "concealed" and it's a warm-weather month, wouldn't that necessitate that the weapon be placed in a pack? And if that's the case, how quickly can you reach that weapon in time of need?

    As to your contention that a CCW holder wouldn't admit to averting a violent crime because they would themselves be admitted to committing a crime, well, other CCW holders have commented on this site either directly or through implication that they would willing pay a fine if their actions prevented a crime.

  • Congressman Accuses Sec. Kempthorne of Pandering to NRA on Gun Issue   6 years 11 weeks ago

    Art--

    Just so you will know. NRA values are not this American's values. And, I suspect, they're not a lot of Americans' values. Many disagree with your assertion that carrying a weapon is guaranteed by the Constitution and therefore is an "American value." Don't let NRA propaganda blind you to the fact that lots of us think differently. That's what makes America great. It's a pluralistic society and we don't have to all agree. But, I suspect that you won't agree with that either.

    Rick Smith

  • Traveler's View: Concealed Weapons Have No Place In Our National Park System   6 years 11 weeks ago

    Bill Wade wrote: I say, give me one example of a citizen with a concealed carry permit who has averted a violent crime in our sacred national park system...

    That smells suspiciously like shifting the burden of proof. Kurt has argued against proposed amendment to the CFR by asserting that there is a risk (and he implies it is a large one) of CCW permit holders using their weapons to commit unlawful acts. Without evidence, however, this is merely an unsupported assertion and to quote Christopher Hitchens, "what can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence." Statistics indicate that CCW permit holders are one-fifth (or less) as likely to commit a violent offense as the general population (and comparatively even less likely to commit a non-violent offense). Unless there is something unique about National Forests that would somehow cause a CCW permit holder to suddenly deviate from this pattern (and if there is, I'd like to know what), Kurt's fears do not appear to have much basis in reality.

    The main problem with demanding such an example, however, is that it is not likely to be documented. If a CCW permit holder averted a violent crime in a National Park without using a concealed carry firearm to do so, why would it be documented that the person in question was a CCW permit holder? The germane question, presumably, is whether there are documented examples of CCW permit holders using their concealed carry weapons to avert a violent crime. The rub is, of course, that concealed carry is currently illegal in National Parks; thus, an absence of such examples may simply be the result of CCW permit holders obeying the law. You simply can't reasonably assert that CCW permit holders wouldn't do any good because they have failed to do so thus far, when doing so would, at this point, require them to have broken the law first. And if such an example could be found, I have little doubt you'd gleefully seize upon the fact that CCW permit holder was carrying illegally in a National Park as evidence that all CCW permit holders are scofflaws. It's a "heads I win, tails you lose" scenario.

  • Congressman Accuses Sec. Kempthorne of Pandering to NRA on Gun Issue   6 years 11 weeks ago

    Anonymous,

    "Don't you think Rick it might be wise to implement some kind of psychological testing before one can be issued a concealed (handgun) weapon?"

    It would be only too easy to extend this logic to the First Amendment as well. The rantings of demagogues like Huey Long, Bull Connor, Al Sharpton and Louis Farrakhan have led in many cases to violence and death. Yet I have yet to here anyone call for "psychological testing" as a precondition to the exercise of the right to free speech.

    The price of freedom is insecurity. As Benjamin Franklin said, "Those Who Sacrifice Liberty For Security Deserve Neither". We must accept that a world where people are allowed the freedoms proclaimed in our Constitution will be inherently more unpredictable and less "safe". That world will also provide the greatest opportunity for individuals to realize the fullness of their God given potential.

    You reflect on the "psychological temperament" of our nation and find nothing affirmative. This can only be a symptom of either intellectual or moral bankruptcy. You joke about "having our little guns taken away". Perhaps you should spend some time reading the history of the last century, where governments committed the wholesale slaughter of their citizens after disarming them. It was only the resolve of this "stressed-out", "pill popping", "sleep deprived" nation that prevented the spread of a gun-controlled nightmare.

    As for the values of the NRA, they are Americas values. The right of a free people to organize and petition our government for redress of grievances. The right to defend both our person and our property and the right of our children to inherit a nation where all of the rights guaranteed their fathers and grandfathers are intact.

  • Congressman Accuses Sec. Kempthorne of Pandering to NRA on Gun Issue   6 years 11 weeks ago

    Hang on to your cutlery: [Ed. note: The link connects to an article about an incident in the UK described thusly: "The grandson of prominent anti-gun campaigner Pat Regan has been arrested on suspicion of stabbing her to death."]

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/west_yorkshire/7430668.stm

  • Traveler's View: Concealed Weapons Have No Place In Our National Park System   6 years 11 weeks ago

    Rangertoo wrote: Not all parks are wild natural areas. Do we really want guns in Lincoln's Home or at Kennedy Birthplace?

    Evidently, you haven't been paying attention to what this proposed amendment to the CFR would actually do, to wit permit concealed carry (and only concealed carry) by citizens in jurisdictions where they are licensed to do so. Lincoln's Home is in Illinois, where state law prohibits concealed carry entirely; Kennedy's Birthplace is in Massachusetts, where you need a Class B License To Carry to even own a handgun, and Class A LTCs (required to legally carry a handgun concealed) are about as rare and hens' teeth (and practically never issued to non-residents of the Commonwealth). In other words, you're objecting to the proposed amendment on the basis of something the proposed amendment wouldn't allow in the first place.

    Kurt wrote: Will it make it safer for rangers responding to drunken fights in campgrounds? [...] Will it be OK to knock down a couple shots of Jack Daniels and chase it with a beer at the Bear Pit Lounge in the Old Faithful Inn while you're packing?

    This kind of rhetoric is akin to the "argument" that we shouldn't legalize marijuana because that would remove all safeguards against motorists, surgeons, air traffic controllers, et al. performing their activities while stoned. This is, of course, nonsense. It is perfectly possible to legalize the possession and use of a substance in general, while prohibiting performing certain activities while being under its influence; we need look no further than alcohol. In my own state of Washington, it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle while "under the influence," i.e. having a BAC of 0.8% or over, or being affected by any drug. It is also illegal--except in one's home or place of business--for a person to be in possession of a firearm while "under the influence"; moreover, such an offense will result in the revocation of one's Concealed Pistol License and, if a court so orders, the forfeiture of all one's firearms. It's also illegal to possess a firearm in any establishment, or section of an establishment, declared by the state Liquor Control Board to be off-limits to persons aged under 21 (i.e. bars and bar areas of restaurants), regardless of whether one is actually consuming alcohol. The overwhelming majority of gun owners whom I know are well aware of this, and make sure their firearms are all securely locked away before they start on their first drink, and that includes people who don't live in Washington. The type of gun owner who would get drunk (and belligerent) while keeping a firearm readily accessible is the kind who is so irresponsible that he would probably ignore the current restrictions on firearms in National Parks anyway.

    Of course you may argue that making a certain act illegal does not physically prevent someone from committing it anyway. The fact that brandishing, aggravated assault and homicide are illegal cannot prevent someone with a firearm from using the weapon to commit such acts. By the same token, the existence of DUI laws cannot prevent someone with access to alcoholic beverages and a motor vehicle from driving while intoxicated. According to MADD, "over 1.46 million drivers were arrested in 2006 for driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics [...] an arrest rate of 1 for every 139 licensed drivers in the United States," and "in 2002, 2.3% of Americans 18 and older surveyed reported alcohol-impaired driving." While not wanting to downplay those figures, and acknowledging that the incidence of driving under the influence is almost certainly larger than those statistics reflect, the fact is that in spite of there being no way to physically prevent everyone from driving while intoxicated, the overwhelming majority of American motorists do not do so. Evidently, we can rely on the overwhelming majority of citizens to obey the law, even when they have the means and opportunity to break it.

    As things stand, persons licensed to carry a concealed handgun can legally do so in National Forests and on BLM-administered public lands. Thus, we should have data available from which we can predict the likelihood of CCW permit holders misbehaving in National Parks and Wildlife Refuges; that is, if there is a significant problem with CCW permit holders getting drunk, picking fights and pulling guns at campgrounds on these federally administered lands, there should presumably be some documentation to that effect. Indeed, we would hope (were this the case) that the USFS and BLM would be agitating to impose restrictions on firearms on the lands under their care similar to those that currently apply to National Parks and Wildlife Refuges, right? Personally, I have been unable to find any evidence that any of this is the case. While there have been some problems with people wielding and/or discharging firearms in National Forests and on BLM lands, these are often more a case of gross inconsideration rather than imminent threat to life or limb, and more to the point, there's no evidence that the gun owners involved were CCW permit holders wielding only concealable firearms.

    I'm willing to be proven wrong on this point: if you can present evidence that CCW holders frequently misbehave in a manner that forms a threat to life and limb of both wildlife and other humans in National Forests and on BLM-administered lands, I'm willing to concede that permitting state-licensed concealed carry in National Parks and Wildlife Refuges may present an unacceptable risk. But I don't think such evidence exists, not in the least place because acquiring a CCW permit typically involves submitting your fingerprints to the FBI (by way of your state or local law enforcement agency) for the purpose of conducting a criminal background check. I'll repeat that: if you have a CCW permit, you know your fingerprints are in a national criminal intelligence database, and in the event that you commit a criminal offense, you can be more readily identified by forensic research than the average citizen. As a result, people who consider themselves likely to violate the law (e.g. by being drunk and disorderly and committing assault, especially with a firearm) do not typically apply for CCW permits.

    Moreover, given that apparently drunken brawls do occur in National Parks, and that as a result people are hurt even in the absence of firearms, is this not a stronger argument for prohibiting alcohol in National Parks than for prohibiting firearms? Mind you, it's entirely likely that the people you can most reliably expect to follow a prohibition on alcohol (aside from non-drinkers) are the ones who don't get fighting drunk or litter empty containers in the first place.

    Kurt Wrote: Really, Mr. Secretary, this isn't a 2nd Amendment issue. No one is trying to deny folks the right to carry arms, [...]

    Actually, at least one person is, to wit yourself. At some point in your commentary you point out that current regulations permit the transportation of firearms--unloaded, inoperable and not readily accessible--so apparently you understand that there is a legal distinction between transporting a firearm and carrying one. In legal terms, to carry a firearm it must be operable and on one's person. So when you subsequently seem to fail to understand the distinction, are you being ignorant, or merely disingenuous?

    Kurt wrote: Mr. Secretary, many gun owners are quick to proclaim that they are as skilled and tested as Park Service law enforcement rangers when it comes to handling guns. Is that so?

    As I understand it, the intensive training program for law enforcement rangers is 18 weeks long. Then, once the ranger completes their basic law enforcement training at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center their next stop, after a short break at their home park, is to report to a field training park for an additional 10 weeks of mentored, hands-on experience.

    Sure, but that covers training in all the skills required to be a law enforcement officer, including classroom in instruction in local, state and federal law, interview techniques, search and seizure procedures, how to write reports and maintain evidence chain of custody, etc. etc. Only a small part of the 18 weeks of academy training is spent on instruction on firearms handling and justifiable use of force. Moreover, the margins of when use of force (deadly or otherwise) is justifiable are wider for law enforcement personnel than they are for private citizens. Private citizens are not expected to execute search and arrest warrants, or to rush towards the sound of gunfire, as law enforcement officers are. Unlike law enforcement officers, private citizens are legally justified in using deadly force only to forestall an imminent threat of death or grievous bodily harm to themselves or others as a result of unlawful activity. Because the criteria for justifiable use of deadly force by private citizens are so much narrower than for LEOs, less instruction is necessary. Nevertheless, many gun owners, especially those who opt to carry a concealed firearm in public, choose to voluntarily undergo more training than they are required to by statute, witness the roaring trade done by such private firearms training facilities as the Lethal Force Institute in New Hampshire, the Firearms Academy of Seattle in Washington, the Valhalla Training Center in Colorado, Thunder Ranch in Oregon and Gunsite in Arizona, to name a few of the major ones. All of these schools were founded by (current or former) law enforcement personnel, and/or have law enforcement personnel on their staff as instructors.

    It's worth noting that research indicates that shootings in which the shooter mistakenly, but without malicious intent, kills an innocent person ("I though he was drawing a gun but it turned out to be a wallet"-type scenarios) occur significantly more frequently with LEOs than they do with private citizens, both in absolute numbers and as a percentage of shooting incidents. This is not because police are reckless or incompetent, but reflects the fact that it is part of their job to seek out and confront people who may prove violent.

  • Congressman Accuses Sec. Kempthorne of Pandering to NRA on Gun Issue   6 years 11 weeks ago

    Don't you think Rick it might be wise to implement some kind of psychological testing before one can be issued a concealed (handgun) weapon?

    Knowing the psychological temperament of this nation, it's been well-documented we're a pretty stressed-out populace. We're heavy into poping pills for sleep deprivation, many levels of depression, bad economics and no decent health insurance. Let's face it, we're one stressed-out nation and you want more guns in the National Parks (and you worry about your little old hand gun being taken away). Parks are for restive peace and tranquility and not a place for the NRA to implode their values.

  • Congressman Accuses Sec. Kempthorne of Pandering to NRA on Gun Issue   6 years 11 weeks ago

    > The bottom line for me is that, in light of the relative lack of crime in national parks, and the odds of accidents happening and those accidents
    > becoming more dangerous when firearms are involved, I just don't see the need for park visitors to arm themselves

    With all due respect to you for the time, effort and thoughts you put into this website, Kurt. deciding not to carry a firearm is your personal decision. To do so is my Constitutional right. To denigrate someone (as many anti gun opinions are wont to be) for choosing to exercise that right is unacceptable. Especially when restrictions result in victims otherwise willing to defend themselves.

    > a Utah POLICE CHIEF WHO SHOT HIMSELF IN THE LEG WHILE TEACHING A CONCEALED WEAPONS TRAINING CLASS.

    there's an even funnier video of a cop with a SWAT T-Shirt proclaiming he's an expert when he shoots himself in the foot in front of a 5th grade class. He didn't check to see if the gun was unloaded. And there are numerous reports of cops leaving their guns in the bathroom and losing them.

    Good people do bad things, bad people do more bad things and good things are used for bad purposes. Just because someone yells fire in a theater doesn't warrant abrogation of your First Amendment rights. Just because people get drunk and drive means you must use only public transportation. Read some of John Lott's work for an even more detailed statistical analysis of the benefits of firearms. On balance, guns are used for good purposes far more often than not and the social benefit is far greater than people realize. The implied threat from concealed carry permit holders is greatly exaggerated.

  • Proposed Settlement Filed in Cape Hatteras National Seashore ORV Case   6 years 11 weeks ago


    I would call myself a bird watcher or at least a friend to birds.

    I have been a friend to birds since I was a kid. I keep a Petersons guide and binoculars in my sunroom and have copies of Audubon guides too. I keep a lifetime spotting record in my Petersons guide. I somtimes travel to and when younger and still able, hike into places just to spot the birds there. I have been thrilled to see pileatedted woodpeckers again in parts of Pennsylvania's forests where they had not been spotted in a long while. And I, though they are fairly common had not seen a rose breastrd grosbeak till a couple of years ago and was all excited to spot sevreal at one time. And I hope that it is true that the ivory billed woodpecker is not yet truly extinct!
    I even still have and reference "Wild Birds of Pennsylvania" that I got as a boy scout 40 years ago.
    We spend considerable money feeding and providing houses and nesting boxes for birds around our property.

    Point is, I like birds more that the average guy.

    That said, I must share my opinion that the Friends and Audubon Society are creating a disaster with their push to close outer banks beaches to both pedestrian and ORV traffic.
    The impact is already impacting the economy of the banks. But the judge having legislated from the bench has impacted people a thousand miles away. This is a larger issue than you realize and the anger it has created, continues to grow even as far away as Pittsburgh, PA and west where many people visit the banks several times a years every year.

    A lot of progress has been made toward habitat restoration and species protection in recent years. You need to win the hearts and minds of the people to be successful at this over the long term.

    But to ruin the business and economy of an entire region. to effectively close access to a public recreation resource as important as the Carolina beaches and disrupt the lives and vacations of many, in the name of protection for a couple of species which are not actually endangered just threatened, have viable populations elsewhere, and for which the OBX is at best a marginal habitat, will in the end be counter productive.

    Especially with all the half truths being passed on to the public via the media.

    According to the mass media, we would not encounter any significant beach closures whatsoever. When in reality we found the existing closures though in themselves are small, cut off access to the majority of the public land, even to those who just want to walk out there to see the birds and the ocean. In reality, access is cut off in particular to the most important parts of the beach for those folks who visit there. Most of the "open" public land is not accessible in any manner unless you can walk miles in soft sand.

    You are losing the balance between the needs of people and the needs of wildlife here.
    And you are losing the support of those with a somewhat less extreme environmental view, who make up the vast majority of Americans.

    I would call myself a bird watcher, but I like many also enjoy the beaches and I like to fish from time to time, and walk on wild beaches where birds outnumber people. The consent decree that the Audubon Society helped to foster cuts me off from that.
    You want to call the Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreation Area a national Park. In your minds a Park is a human exclusion area. Like humans are not part of nature too? To me "park" describes a place for the use of humans. Have you ever even been to the OBX? 75% of taxapyers will never see these wild beaches unless they can drive out on them. There are few places to park and miles of soft sand that is very difficult to walk on. Why will the average guy care about he fate of birds and turtles that they can never get out there to see? Only a very small percentage of Americans are backpackers and back country hikers. Very ew are willing or able to treck the miles across the sand to access what remains open but in reality is cut off. Make no mistake. It is pure BS to say that there are only a few miles of closures. The reality is that as a result of what is closed most of the shore that matters to humans is now cut off for vehicles, pedestrians or any other human use.

    After 30 years of visiting the OBX we are cancelling our vacation there this year. For me at least the local economy on the banks will lose the $2000 to $7000 we spend there each year (Depending on whether we camp or rent a house) We usually visit from Pittsburgh at least two weeks a year.
    I can not access the very things that attract me to this area, more importantly, I fear that there could be confrontations there this summer making me nervous to be there. I hope not. But peoples' jobs and livings and a way of life are at stake. An unstable situation at best and add the crush of angry vacationers who arrive to find that they can not access the public lands, it will be volatile to say the least.

    I believe that in then end, this will all create a terrible backlash, this could be the one that leads to more reversals in environmental policy. A shame because I believe with all my heart that no matter what, the Piping Plover will not be able to maintain any viable populations on the OBX. It is a marginal habitat for this a bird with adequate populations in other areas.
    That and we have now created an entire class of folks who actively wish that these birds would just go away, some of whom sadly may attempt to actively assist in that effort. Not just apathy for wildlife but antagonism, great!

    As an aside, reagarding the balance of the needs of people and the needs of wildlife, a friend, a retired law enforcement officer and avid outdoorsman, asks where is it that we draw the line environmentaly?

    If a cure for cancer for all time were to be found, but required the harvesting and possible extinction of a species, say the Piping Plover, would we allow this for the sake of humanity? I do not know the answer, do you?

  • Congressman Accuses Sec. Kempthorne of Pandering to NRA on Gun Issue   6 years 11 weeks ago

    Rick/Art,

    OK, you guys win. I might have a fighting chance if I dwelled on guns, gun laws, and crime stats as much as I do on parks, but I don't. Here are my parting thoughts:

    * You complain about "the vacuousness of the anti-gun arguments in this situation and the bigotry and prejudice many anti gun people have – especially the Brady and VPC organizations that pander to these prejudices." Why did these organizations form in the first place? Did they first conceive the idea that they hate guns and so needed to concoct an argument, as your views suggest, or was it because of gun violence in general, whether committed by criminals or guns owned by permit holders? In the case of the Brady group, didn't it arise out of the assassination attempt on President Reagan and the bullet press secretary James Brady took? And wasn't the gun used in that crime legally purchased in Texas?

    * "Interestingly, the media overwhelmingly ignore any occasion where a concealed carry permit holder has actually prevented a crime or saved a life." As a member of the media for my entire professional life, going on 30 years now, this is one of the most bizarre, ridiculous, and over-generalizing statements I've ever heard. Media -- particularly broadcast media -- love hero stories, Rick.

    * "I want proof of a permit holder committing a gun crime against another citizen." Rick: Those Texas statistics that Art points to and which you can find here show 140 cases of permit holders committing gun crimes against another citizen. True, it's but a small fraction of the overall crimes committed, but you just wanted proof of one instance, and these stats provide 140. And that's just one of 50 states.

    * "...in the hands of responsible citizens..." I think you've hit it on the head with this comment, Rick.

    "Responsible citizens." I'm going out on a limb here, but I don't think the concern is about guns in the hands of responsible citizens. Rather, it's about guns in the hands of those who aren't so responsible, who leave their weapons out in the open where youngsters can get them, who mix alcohol with guns, whose anger leads them to settle arguments violently, who figure they're far in the backcountry and so can take some pot shots at something. Too, there are a number of stories out there about groups concerned over their states' permitting procedures because they lack mental health reviews before issuing permits. If you look back over the nearly three years I've been generating the Traveler and examine the color and tenor of some of the comments I've been subjected to, you'd question whether those folks were responsible. My wife half-jokingly has suggested I enter the witness protection program.

    And then, Rick, sometimes accidents even happen to "responsible citizens." Proof of that? Read this story, which tells about a Utah POLICE CHIEF WHO SHOT HIMSELF IN THE LEG WHILE TEACHING A CONCEALED WEAPONS TRAINING CLASS.

    Rick, Art, Fred (who already knows, I think) and other concealed carry proponents, I'm not anti-gun. I've fired weapons before and have a good friend who just retired from the New Jersey State Police. He and I traveled often with him carrying, and it never bothered me. In fact, we've gone into the backcountry of Yellowstone and he's never felt the need to carry.

    The bottom line for me is that, in light of the relative lack of crime in national parks, and the odds of accidents happening and those accidents becoming more dangerous when firearms are involved, I just don't see the need for park visitors to arm themselves.

  • Couple That Was Lost In Grand Canyon National Park Had Good Survival Plan   6 years 11 weeks ago

    I am so impressrd with the resiliance of this couple ...in the 1950s Dad took us camping at the Canyon and on several Indian reservations where he had friends and he taught us pretty much the same things...always let someone know your plans and check in with them as soon as you return and let them find you,wandering around creates panic and decreases survival. his couple should be a lesson to us all,