Recent comments

  • Couple That Was Lost In Grand Canyon National Park Had Good Survival Plan   6 years 25 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 25 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 25 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 25 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 25 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 25 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 25 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 25 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 25 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 25 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 25 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 25 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,

  • Congressman Accuses Sec. Kempthorne of Pandering to NRA on Gun Issue   6 years 25 weeks ago

    Anonymous writes:

    > Because of the threat of poaching, the presence of an assembled and loaded weapon is a reasonable threat ON ITS FACE.

    How about: "because of the threat of murder, rape and assault an assembled and loaded weapon is a reasonable defense ON ITS FACE"?

    > This is a real reason there have been no successful challenges to the existing regulation

    I think the challenge to the regulation, as well as the Supreme Court challenge to the Washington, D.C. (aka gun-free nirvana) gun ban will succeed

    > Perhaps you are unfamiliar with idiots with guns, and appeal to reason, implying no one with a handgun would threaten wildlife.

    Perhaps you are unfamiliar with idiots with cars, and appeal to reason implying no one with an automobile would harm innocent bystanders

    > I saw a guy kill a king salmon with a pistol.

    I saw a guy kill my friend with a tractor trailer truck

    > People expect that that nature of the park experience is that no visitor is packing.

    Geez, You're head is in the clouds. I expect the nature of park experience is that no visitor is killing women on the same trail my wife and I hike.

    Put things into perspective and prove you've been harmed by the presence of a citizen carrying a firearm for self defense instead of espousing suppositional paranoia and prejudice.

  • Congressman Accuses Sec. Kempthorne of Pandering to NRA on Gun Issue   6 years 25 weeks ago

    Dear Fred:

    Because of the threat of poaching, the presence of an assembled and loaded weapon is a reasonable threat ON ITS FACE. This is a real reason there have been no successful challenges to the existing regulation on Second Amendment grounds. All judges and reasonable people would agree this is exactly the kind of reasonable regulation the Constitution is talking about.

    Perhaps you are unfamiliar with idiots with guns, and appeal to reason, implying no one with a handgun would threaten wildlife. Would that that were so ! I saw a guy kill a king salmon with a pistol. I saw a guy shoot at a brown bear -- if you can believe how dumb this guy was -- with a revolver. There is a farmer who farms near here who has a cow that was shot by another moron with a 32.

    People expect that that nature of the park experience is that no visitor is packing. If one is, bust them as a legitimate threat to the special rules applying to parks. Your right of revolution will not be compromised by either choosing to enter a park with no working firearm, or by choosing not to go.

  • National Park Service Director Bomar Scheduled to Meet With Mountain Bike Community   6 years 25 weeks ago

    First of all, I am not a mountian biker. I wasn't born with the coordination needed to ride a regular bike on flat concrete, let alone a mountain bike on a rugged trail. However, I have done a lot of hiking over the years with mountain bikers in the National Forests of Colorado and I am happy to report that we've never had any sort of problem with mountain bikers. They have been very respectful, we've never felt as though we were going to be run over, and contrary to popular belief, they do actually stop to take pictures of awesome views and wildlife. They stick to the trail, don't make their own "short cuts" which is the primary cause of that erosion, and really have seemed to enjoy their time in nature. Because of my personal experience with the bikers, I am all for adding in a few bike trails through the National Parks. There are a surprisingly large amount of people who would prefer to see the parks by bike and I am all for people getting to experience our Park System. I would also be willing to wager that the bike clubs would help sponser the building of trails if the National Park system would allow such trails to be constructed, which would greatly help the burden of the cost to the N.P.S. I think it's an idea that at least should be explored.

  • Congressman Accuses Sec. Kempthorne of Pandering to NRA on Gun Issue   6 years 25 weeks ago

    > Ya know, we could bat this back and forth for years and we wouldn't see eye to eye.

    Art did a good job of presenting the factual Texas data. Thanks, Art.

    I ‘ll admit you’re probably right, Kurt, and I give you credit for enduring this discussion. But my intent wasn’t to persuade someone to buy a gun or convert them, it was to point out 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.

    > I must admit your lack of tolerance for regulations is kinda disconcerting. How do you decide which laws or regulations are worth obeying?

    It’s easy. It’s when some bureaucrat writes regulations that violate my Constitutional rights. That’s why I set out to change the national park and the state park regulation. I think I’ve had a modicum of success in proving my point to date.

    > you asked for someone to provide evidence of a concealed weapons permit holder who's broken the law, and now you've retreated to asking for
    > proof of a crime "other than a bureaucratic infraction."

    I haven’t retreated. I’ve still not gotten an answer. I want proof of a permit holder committing a gun crime against another citizen. And, yes, it’s a bureaucratic infraction that denies my constitutional right. Sit in the back of the bus until you understand this ;^)

    > Now, you say you'll pay the fine if caught, but will you also turn over your handgun?

    Well, I guess since I will have, at that point, had to defend my life that’s the least of my worries. You’ve heard the saying, “better to be judged by 12 than carried by 6.” There’s no room for compromise when it comes to self-defense. I can buy another handgun but I can’t buy another me, or another wife or child. I told you before, I was close enough to a nasty situation in Cumberland Gap that I saw the light and realized gun control laws are downright stupid. I'm lucky enough to be here telling you about it.

    > I also think you're jumping to conclusions by lumping everyone who opposes concealed carry in the parks as anti-gun.

    That’s a red herring. Why should I defend my right to self defense under the Constitution then turn around and say it’s conditional within artificial geographic bureaucratic boundaries. If you are someone who sees the logic behind taking responsibility for you own welfare and safety you don’t say self defense is valid in point A and then somehow be opposed to it in point B. All of you seat belt advocates can say it’s mandatory on highway 81 but not on highway 95. Where’s the difference?

    It’s relatively apparent that most of those posting are anti-gun because they all use the same old Brady/VPC mythology rhetoric . If they own guns maybe they’re the Obama “sportsmen and hunters” who have nothing to worry about. ;^) If they oppose concealed carry in parks they, well, probably don’t carry a gun for self defense. You can’t be ambivalent in this situation.

    > I just don't think there's justification to go armed every time you leave the house.

    Maybe you live in a really safe neighborhood. Maybe you’re lucky. Do you cancel your homeowners insurance, health insurance or car insurance under capricious circumstances? It’s my Constitutionally guaranteed right, hence my justification. Whether you employ the means to defend yourself is your decision. If guns are so superfluous why do cops need guns?

    > In 1998, more than 30,000 men, women, and children were killed with firearms in the United States.

    Jeez, talk about old stats. I don’t understand why you would post this data after I’ve posted the most recent government data. And your still guilty of the doing same thing all the anti gun gangs do: “[people] were killed with firearms.” Inanimate objects don’t cause actions. “40,000 people were killed by cars…” X people were killed by alcohol.” People do the killing, driving and drinking. Yours is just a rehash of the gun banner spin machine. I provide links to more recent data compiled by the government not anti gun groups with an agenda and with detailed explanations of the death circumstances. As I said, more than half, and closer to 75%, of the homicides are crime-related and involve criminal acts. I guess the criminals weren’t up on that law that murder is illegal.

    As hungry as the media are to report such spectacular news, I still haven’t seen any reports of a concealed carry permit holder committing one of these murders. Interestingly, the media overwhelmingly ignore any occasion where a concealed carry permit holder has actually prevented a crime or saved a life.

    > Gunfire kills more teenagers than all natural causes combined

    No, teens committing crimes generally kill other adult teens. The anti gun gangs spin the data to make it seem like (a) it’s the guns doing the action and (b) all of the teenagers were innocents just minding their own business. In most cases this is gang and drug activity.

    > in 1999, nearly half of all murder victims were killed by someone they knew such as a friend or family member rather than a stranger.

    That’s generally the case because drug deals gone bad involve acquaintances - albeit criminal acquaintances. Criminal against criminal crimes are quite prevalent. Yes some innocent people are killed by others but not by concealed carry permit holders. What does the more recent data indicate? here's another link to FBI data. http://www.ojjdp.ncjrs.gov/ojstatbb/ezashr/

    To reiterate, you don't need to shoot someone to stop a crime. Just showing the criminal you have one is sufficient deterrent. More than a million times each year.

    You did read the DOJ study that recognized that gun control laws are essentially useless and futile because (drum roll!) criminals don’t obey the law, right? That’s why these folks continue to rob, rape, kill and sell drugs. They don’t care about laws. Citizens who go through the hassle of getting a permit are somewhat less inclined to do so for the purpose of criminal intent.

    > Of course, this is really an exercise in futility because -- and please correct me if I'm wrong -- if the regulations remain unchanged gun owners like
    > you will still flaunt the "questionably legal" regulations.

    If bureaucrats write regulations without my consent or involving a democratic process and that violate the Constitution why should I or anyone else? If a comfy overpaid bureaucrat denies me the means to defend my life and refuses to provide me with a bodyguard why on earth should I abide by this regulation? And whether I or any other gun permit holder choose to prioritize the Constitution over a bureaucratic regulation I guarantee you’ll never be aware of it. Unless you break the law and try to attack me.

    Getting back to the original issue, though, I’d still like to hear about macho, NRA-brainwashed, testosterone-infused (I know, that’s redundant) permit holders packing heat who might poach, just shoot wildlife maliciously, damage property or threaten park visitors. That is what we’ve been talking about, right?

    The perception of those who don’t like guns is seems to be that when the regulation is changed all of these heat-packers will somehow swarm the parks whooping and hollering and forever destroy the pristine visitor experience of those genteel, sophisticated, experienced park veterans who choose to not carry a gun.

    I’ve not read anything here from anyone who has indicated how they have been affected adversely by someone lawfully carrying a concealed handgun outside the parks (no one has complained yet about the criminals outside or inside the parks).

    And I’ve still not seen anyone legitimately explain how this regulation change will result any differently from what has taken place in the 40 states that have enacted right-to-carry legislation.

    Or how it will differ from the experience in national forests where, by golly, there are also big predatory critters, scenery, visitors and regulations on what and when you can hunt and what you can or can’t do to property?

    If a criminal sees two people and knows one has a gun and the other doesn’t, guess who he’s going after. This is enhanced for the criminal by stupid, gun-free victim zones. You don’t hear of crimes in national forests to the extent that take place in national parks. And more citizens are packin’ heat in the forests. Why aren’t national forest visitors chiming in here to add their horrible experiences with concealed carry permit holders?

    Yes, it does come down to a love guns/hate guns issue of emotions. Unfortunately too many people continue to leave the facts at the door and run with trendy politically correct groupthink fueled by emotionally misleading propaganda from the anti gun grops.

    The main facts constantly being ignored are that in the hands of responsible citizens guns save lives, and permit holders are among the most responsible citizens. When the regulation is changed the only thing you’ll notice is less crime. Because the criminals will have to work harder to determine if their victim will shoot them. Ask criminals in jail what they fear most. Answer: armed citizens.

  • Traveler's View: Concealed Weapons Have No Place In Our National Park System   6 years 25 weeks ago

    Bill says,

    > 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...

    Based on media biases, since I never see anything about citizens defending themselves more than a million times each year outside of the parks I don't expect to see it when it actually does happen within the parks. All I see is the continuous commission of crimes within the park system. Why aren't you out there preventing some of these crimes, Bill? Oh, that's right, the courts absolved you of any responsibility by declaring "law enforcement" have no obligation to protect. You only have to investigate the victims when the crimes have occurred. That's reassuring to the victims.

    You still haven't answered my question which is at the hear of this issue: whether concealed carry permit holders have or will cause problems. Even the lowest estimate of defensive gun use is somewhere around 500,000 per year. That's a lot of people who weren't victimized by a criminal - because you weren't there to protect them - by utilizing a firearm.

  • Battle Mounts Over Off-Road Vehicles at Cape Hatteras National Seashore   6 years 25 weeks ago

    I don't think people realize that you CAN NOT access most beaches without a ORV. The picture above showing bumper to bumper vehicles also was done on a holiday and not pictured is the roped off area south of Cape Point for birds. That's why all the cars are so congested! Just feels like lies. I've been going to OBX for years and I see more people caring for the enviroment than destroying the dunes and beaches. Was there last week and merchants are reporting 40-50% decrease in business. Was also told property values are down 30%. Where is a happy medium?

  • Electric Map Going Away at Gettysburg National Military Park   6 years 25 weeks ago

    My Grandfather took me to see this map when I was a little boy. I learned more about Civil War history with that one visit than I did in all my years of public school. It's "disappearance" would truly be a tragic loss.

  • Electric Map Going Away at Gettysburg National Military Park   6 years 25 weeks ago

    I visited G'burg today and went in the new Visitors Center. There is *no equivalent* to the Electric Map there. It does a terrible job at providing a tactical perspective of the battle, something for which the Electric Map was perfect. The new Center is something like 20 times as big as the old one, yet they couldn't find room for the Electric Map? Unbelievable.

  • Congressman Accuses Sec. Kempthorne of Pandering to NRA on Gun Issue   6 years 25 weeks ago

    It's true to point out that we could argue about this for years. It would be a much better use of this valuable space to dissuade people's irrational fears of fellow Park visitors who might be armed. There have been more than 9,400 comments posted about the proposed firearm regulation change. It's probably safe to say that the rule change will take place. I think it would be incredibly sad if some folks stopped visiting our beautiful Parks because they think that they are in some newly-created "fear factory".

    Most people fear something because they don't know anything about it. Can't we use this space to inform people about the complete irrationality of their fears? They have nothing to fear from me or any of my fellow CCW-holding brethren. They will actually be safer now then they were before, in spite of many, many "facts" to the contrary.

  • Groups Sue Cape Hatteras National Seashore Over ORV Traffic   6 years 25 weeks ago

    Anonymous (from 10/21),
    You have clearly never stepped foot on Hatteras or Ocracoke Island. If you had, you would understand how utterly asinine and inaccurate your characterization of ORV activity there is.

    Now to your "get your fat butts out of your toy ORVs" comment (you are quite the gifted and creative writer by the way). What would you have me tell my disabled daughter who can only dream of traversing the thick sand of Outer Banks beaches on foot?

  • Traveler's View: Concealed Weapons Have No Place In Our National Park System   6 years 25 weeks ago

    Rick - you say, "I'll say this until you are blue in the face: give me one example of a citizen with a concealed carry permit who has committed a violent crime in your sacred national park system - or any place in our country."

    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...

    Bill Wade
    Chair, Executive Council
    Coalition of National Park Service Retirees

  • Congressman Accuses Sec. Kempthorne of Pandering to NRA on Gun Issue   6 years 25 weeks ago

    Kurt,

    The statistics used by the Texas Concealed Handgun Instructors Association are drawn directly from the Texas Department of Public Safety Concealed Handgun Licensing Section and put into the proper context as measured against the age appropriate population of Texas. The instructors are DPS qualified and work closely with the Texas DPS.

    The Texas DPS maintains it's own website which anyone can visit:(http://www.txdps.state.tx.us/administration/crime_records/chl/convrates.htm)

    Rather than simply taking dictation from gun control organizations, you might want to visit the websites of the actual state agencies and review the statistics concerning CHL holders. Unless of course you believe that the state and federal governments are part of some "grand conspiracy" to hide the wanton criminality of CHL holders.

    The FBI also gathers statistics comparing crime rates between states with liberal CCW laws and those with more restrictive gun laws. Not surprisingly your side does not fair well. "The FBI, drawing from data it has collected and published in the Uniform Crime Reports, concludes that "violent crime rates are highest overall in states with laws severely limiting or prohibiting the carrying of concealed firearms for self-defense." Particularly, the FBI notes that the total violent crime rate is 26 percent higher in the states with restrictive CCW laws than in the less restrictive states. Likewise, homicide rates are 49 percent higher, and robbery 58 percent higher, in more conservative states. The only reasonable conclusion is that liberal CCW laws help to reduce the overall crime rate, and particularly to reduce the frequency of violent crime."

    "The FBI estimates that each year, Americans use firearms for self-defense more than 2.1 million times; by contrast, there are about 579,000 violent crimes committed annually with guns, of which 70 percent are committed by 7 percent of criminals, including repeat offenders, who pay no attention to gun laws anyway. Furthermore, 99.9 percent of self-defense firearm uses do not result in fatalities. Of incarcerated felons surveyed by the Justice Department, 34 percent were driven away, wounded, or captured by armed citizens, and 40 percent decided against committing a crime for fear that a potential victim was armed."

    It is a common tactic of those whose arguments are not supported by the evidence to use false or misleading statistical claims. When called out, these people claim that everyone manipulates data and as a result no one's evidence can be trusted. This technique has the effect of putting the legitimate evidence under a cloud suspicion and diminishing the impact that evidence has in the debate.

    As I said before, it is perverse to concentrate so much passion against people who are, by all accounts, law abiding citizens willing to submit to criminal background checks and safety training just to exercise a right guaranteed them under our Constitution.

  • Congressman Accuses Sec. Kempthorne of Pandering to NRA on Gun Issue   6 years 25 weeks ago

    Blair just doesn't get it:

    > the point is, why would one need to carry a handgun in a National Park?

    Why do you have fire insurance? Are you planing for you house to burn down? Why do you have car insurance? Are you planning to be in a car crash? Why do you have health care? Are you planing to be sick? Life is kinda fickle and we choose to be prepared. At least some of us do.

    We are talking about concealed handguns in the possessions of citizens lawfully exercising their rights. There's a saying, "don't take a knife to a gun fight" If I knew I would need a firearm to defend my life I guarantee you I would be carrying at least my AR-15 instead of a SIG handgun. My handgun is my little life insurance policy. It doesn't come out of the holster until the appropriate time as defined by law.

    As for that guy in Houston OK, maybe you got me there. You provided one example of a citizen doing something wrong. I didn't object to removing the scum but the law provides for consequences under those conditions. The research also proves as many as a million times a year citizens lawfully use firearms to defend themselves. I think I'm still ahead of you.

    You also make my point, concealed carry permit holders don't poach and vandalize while carrying and don't murder. I'm glad you feel safe, however. If you feel so lucky, though - well do you? Then why don't you forego your homeowners insurance, car insurance and health care? Murderers, rapists and thieves commit their acts of social indiscretion with a variety of weapons. Most of which are classified as lethal and the victim is entitled under law to respond to that assault with deadly force. Having a concealed handgun is the same as pulling out your insurance card.

    If you are ultimately the victim du jour then you and your clean conscience can go to meet your maker knowing you held to your convictions. I've chosen to even the playing field a bit and am not willing to go quietly. I've come too close to being there.

    Also, I don't know if the aforementioned shooter in Texas had a concealed carry permit. He was just the neighbor who happened to be armed and sick and tired of people being victimized by thugs. Oh yeah. And where were the cops in all this? Uuuhhh, I guess they were enforcing laws elsewhere in the town and not situated at that location protecting someone's life or valuables.