The senate is expected at some point to vote on an excellent bill
"...combines nearly 60 separate proposals to expand wilderness protection in several Western states and establish the Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area in Illinois and Niagara Falls Heritage Area in New York state, among dozens of provisions
There's a controversial amendment sponsored by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla that would overturn a national park ban on firearms. The current law states that visitors, if they're transporting guns in national parks, have to keep them unloaded and "not easily accessible" like in a car trunk. Coburn's amendment would allow gun owners to carry loaded, accessible firearms into national parks and wildlife refuges just as you can carry anyplace else such as national forests and BLM land. This change is holding the bill up while the politicians grandstand and bloviate.
This subject is particularly interesting to me because I'm a shooter who carries weapons and the Mrs and I love to be in our park system as much as we can. So hell, this is my blog so I'll bloviate along with the rest of the bastards.
Aside from the fact this Coburn guy is a repug and is holding the bill up out of spite because he thinks it's full of pork, I'm all for his amendment. To me the only bad thing about it is that it could be a rider someplace else to get the larger bill passed. I don't care who sponsors something I see as a positive thing. McCain is even in on this which is the only time I've ever agreed with the guy on anything.
The usual pro 2nd amendment arguments apply - it doesn't address duck hunting but speaks to society prepared for tyranny, what part of "shall not be infringed" don't you understand, and all the rest. But national parks present a unique venue as a background to the debate.
Weapon ban enthusiasts want to see the parks as pristine , worry free environments where your experience would be sullied and threatened by gun carriers. Well, guess what? There are plenty of guns in national parks. The only people who don't carry there are law abiders who honor the restrictions. This is probably the most important point that anti gunners don't get time after time. Here's how the NYT
puts the argument:
"The Coburn amendment is another attempt by the gun lobby to extend laissez-faire gun rights to college campuses, churches and workplaces even as the nation suffers firearm fatalities and rampages that take 30,000 lives a year
Those campuses, churches and workplaces, just like our national parks, are gun free soft targets,
where you might as well put up a sign saying "open for unopposed crime here". All of the mass shootings have been in gun restriction zones, every damn one of them, and there's a reason for that. A wacko, or Cointelpro zombie or or criminal or whoever wants to shed blood won't target a police precinct or your local gun show, he'll feel safer about creating mayhem by going over to a McDonalds that has this posted on the door, won't he?
The national parks have changed drastically in the last couple of decades. There are basically two types of park environments now, each with it's own reason for lawful carry.
The vast majority of visitors congregate at the easiest to get to, most spectacular attractions like Yosemite Valley or the Smokies or the great lodges like at Yellowstone. These places are increasingly extremely crowded which means more trouble
with maladjusted individuals, as in more crime.
Assaults, rapes, robberies, theft, you name it, the parks are not immune just because they're pretty. These crowded places draw parasites because of easy pickings. It's insane to trust the overstressed and increasingly scarce park rangers because just like the robbery at the local deli, the cops will show up after the fact, not a comforting thought for the victims.
The other area is the place where few people go - the backcountry. Vast wilderness where frankly, you have no business being if you're not prepared for any contingency. You won't encounter too many miscreants away from the populated areas, but of course you might, with the added fun of no longer being at the top of the food chain. Trouble out there, unless you're one who carries a homing beacon and sat communications gear and GPS system, means you're a long way from any help you need. And it's not good to limit your options.
I've travelled extensively through the park system and the wide open spaces. Even worked for the US forest service and fought forest fires for a few years. There's a lot of beautiful country out west and in reality just a small chunk of it is designated as "national park". To unconstitutionally take away your right to defend yourself in that arbitrary space while "allowing" your rights everywhere never did make sense. I and many other trained, conscientious gun enthusiasts shouldn't be restricted if we feel the need to carry weapons.
Did you know the White House is national park territory too?