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Concealed Guns In National Parks Dangerous Idea

January 2, 2009

After eight years this country needs no more proof that the Bush Administration has been a complete disaster with one bad idea piling on top of another.  If only they would just stop with the policies that are aimed at their base of conservatives with three thumbs.  The latest such example is now taking place at a national park near you.

For over 100 years it was illegal to carry a loaded gun into Yellowstone National Park.  Now when one visits they can take their partner, and kids Susan and Paul, and also their loaded 357 Magnum.  Better not cut in front of him when watching Old Faithful blow or he may just blow you….away.

Thanks to President Bush loaded concealed firearms are now allowed inside national parks.  The regulation outlawing such practices was enacted nationwide by Ronald Reagan, who also was a strict conservative but understood the need to have such a prohibition on loaded concealed guns.  Reagan knew that having an unloaded firearm in a place that is not easily accessible means that there is a far less chance for violent acts by overly emotional gun owners who shoot first, and then wonder what went wrong.

Now under this rule change people with concealed weapons permits can bring loaded firearms into national parks.  The fact that no one was marching in the streets to have this change enacted takes me back to the start of this post and the land of three-thumbs.  This rule change was a last minute gift to the NRA and their three-thumbed members who bit off more than they could chew in the 2008 elections, and now must deal with the electoral consequences. 

The reasons that no one demanded this change was because those of us with common sense understand that our national parks will become less safe as the result of loaded concealed weapons.   Poaching will increase since those who have guns often do not abide by hunting requirements. 

From a policy perspective this rule change is murky because the final decision on which national park is impacted depends on the state law that is in place in regard to concealed weapons.   Murky indeed, and unwise on every level that this rule is evaluated at.

There are so many reasons that all the nation will rejoice and sing praises when the last minute of the Bush Administration has passed away.  Then the work begins to bring sanity and intelligence back into the art of governing.

  1. Tracy permalink
    February 20, 2009 12:12 AM

    It’s sad. I suppose one man’s PR campaign is another man’s Second Amendment. How do you feel about 1 and 2 through 10?

  2. Ron permalink
    February 18, 2009 5:48 PM

    I work at the UW-Madison and came here to read about your thoughts on the state budget. While reading I noted some comments about guns in national parks. I need to respond to those who are blinded by the need to think that guns are the answers. In fact, guns are the problems.

    Every day there are roughly 80 plus gun deaths in the United States, which adds to roughly 30,000 each year. When the stats are broken down that amounts to about 4 children under the age of 17 that are killed each day by a gun.

    I looked for a minute online and found this data from 2004 provided in graph form using bullets as a method for making the point even more clear.

    I grew up in Memphis, worked for a time in New York, and now live in Madison. I have, at times, lived and worked in rough sections of some cities, but never once did I think I needed a weapon to feel safe or resolve any potential threat. There is a continued PR campaign by those who feel they have a right to be locked and loaded at all times that I find most troubling. But having lived in rough sections of cities I can attest to the fact that one does need a gun.

    Thank you for your posts on these matters. I took a few minutes and scanned your past writings, and agree with your sentiments.

  3. Tracy permalink
    February 18, 2009 4:52 PM

    DEKERIVERS: You’re mistaking preparedness for fear. It is a fact that crimes occur in national parks. I’m happy you haven’t felt threatened in national parks. Nor have I. Sadly, if you had felt threatened, you probably wouldn’t be here to engage in this conversation. Far too many people put the cart before the horse when it comes to personal protection. The idea is to have the tools and not need them, not the other way around.

    Your irrational fear of guns in the hands of law abiding citizens doesn’t at all remind me of my mom or other women. Most of the women I train are grounded in reality and fully understand the potential threats lying in wait. They also understand that it is foolish to believe that we can rely on the ‘authorities’ to protect us.

    For grins, look up Gonzales v. Castle Rock, Co.

  4. February 18, 2009 1:53 PM

    Sorry about thinking you were a female. It just seemed that you were frightened about crime in the national parks, and it seemed like a trait that someone like my mom or other women might have. Your name did not help me think otherwise, either.
    If that is sexist, so be it. Again, sorry.

    I visit national parks and never feel threatened.

    As for Reagan making the change…well the political point is clear, in light of your “liberal elite” statement.

  5. Tracy permalink
    February 18, 2009 1:34 PM

    Is the fact that the rule change occurred during Reagan’s watch relevant? It’s still unfounded. And I’ll be happy to put away the deadly weapon when the bad guys do the same. By the way, your sexism is showing: Tracy happens to be a male.

    We have the liberal elite and the uneducated followers; you know, the ones who never fact check your statistics when you say 3,500 ‘children’ are kill by guns each year, but by ‘children,’ you actually mean ages 0 through 24. Both are equally dangerous to our right to keep and bear arms.

  6. February 18, 2009 12:29 PM

    The fact is however Ronald Reagan made the rule change that Tracy sees as “irrational and unfounded, but, sadly, common among the young, miseducated, liberal elite.”

    I also point her to the comments and concerns in writen form of the park rangers who probally would not be listed among the “liberal elite” when they state this rule change is wrong.

    Finally, we now have President Obama that will not be bowing to kiss the ass of the NRA. I do not see this rule change continuing once a review of it has been made.

    So put the deadly weapon away and just enjoy the cute animals and scenery while enjoying the national parks.

  7. Tracy permalink
    February 18, 2009 8:53 AM

    Your fears are irrational and unfounded, but, sadly, common among the young, miseducated, liberal elite. Someone (presumably a law abiding concealed weapon permit holder) is going to pull out their 357 and blow someone away? Wow! Sounds awful!

    Unfortunately, it’s total fantasy. I can’t speak for other states, but in Texas, Concealed Handgun License (CHL) holders comprise less than one quarter of one percent (0.227%) of all felony and weapons related convictions (check the TXDPS site for conviction rates). Each time a state considers concealed carry, you and your ilk emerge from the woodwork lamenting blood in the streets, return to the Wild West, every altercation will be reminiscent of the O.K. Corral, etc. The truth is IT JUST HASN’T HAPPENED! But does the truth stop you from preaching the same old fear-mongering lies? NO!

    Tell you what; since you’re afraid of violence in National Parks, why don’t you actually look up some statistics. I’m not going to do your homework for you, but I can point you to HUNDREDS of reports of robberies, shootings, poaching, kidnappings, rapes and miscellaneous assaults that take place in National Parks. Why? I’m going to take a shot in the dark (see how I did that?) and say it’s because criminals feel safe in National Parks; they know their victims are UNARMED!!!

    Keep it up! Criminals prefer unarmed victims.

  8. thom3301 permalink
    February 9, 2009 1:19 AM

    I think this article is the dumbest one I have read on the web, its because of people like you that this world is falling apart.
    Just because a person carries a concealed weapon it does not make them a bad person, nor does it make it less safe for others. I think that the danger comes when people who are not familiar with firearms automatically make ignorant assumptions about those who carry.
    Humans will be humans and because joe blow shot somebody yesterday doesn’t mean guns should be outlawed nor does it mean that an idiot with no real life experience and i’m not talking about someone who thinks they know about guns because their grandfather owns one or they read articles in the news written by somebody just as naive can pass laws on who and who cant have a firearm,or even write an article on why firearms shouldn’t be allowed in national parks. The biggest problem is that some people don’t seem to understand that humans will always be humans we are animals. Just because there are lots of idiots out there doesn’t mean that humans need to be controlled. WE by nature are good beings and good will always overcome, so why not let nature take its course and stop being so bias. You probably stand up for the first amendment don’t you, so how can you disregard the second and say no it shouldn’t exist because I have a wild idea of what I think should happen in this world and what I think is right and wrong. None of this probably made any sense but I’m just sick of uneducated people speaking about topics that they shouldn’t, uless they are educated and no CNN does not count as education. I am a gun owner and hunter, fisherman “animal killer” however I respect animals and wildlife more than I respect mankind especially people like you. I live off of what was given to us by god or whatever ever you believe in and no i’m not religous. Some of the most beaustifule moments in my life have occurred in nature by myself while hunting/fishing/camping just being outside. People who “abuse” wildlife are just as bad as murderers in my opinion but because there are bad people out there you cant let that blind you to the general public and that the majority of peole are good and because they carry a gun wherever they want doesn’t mean they are endangering you, if you are going to bring up statistics don’t even bother, first off check out what happened in Australia, second statistics can be manipulated to make them mean anything you want them to mean you need to know the conrols on which the statistics were formed, a sample of 10000 convicts that were released from prison is obviously going to have a different statistical meaning than 10000 people from the general public, lets say the goal was to determine how many of those people have commited an “injurious” crime on living things including other people, I think I just made up a word but do you see my point, the results are going to be way different. You need to know the parameters on which the test was formed and often if not more often than not youll see some statistcal inference in the headlines or on some website that shocks you or angers you or scares you yet you dont know how the results were formed I guess my point is don’t believe or agree with what you see unless you know how that opinion was formed, basically statistics are mathematical OPINIONS, and can be trusted as much as your opinion on gun rights or my opinion on gun rights or on whether or not bigfoot exists, or if an orange is the same as an apple.

  9. January 3, 2009 1:13 PM

    Yeah, because, you know, North Dakota and the rest of Wyoming are so incredibly dangerous b/c of concealed handgun laws.

    Look, out in the woods in true primitive camping it’s you, other people, and nature. There are no cops to call. You have to fend for yourself, and guns are the best way to do it. Millions of Americans, something like 1 in 2 households, have guns and exercise those rights responsibly.

    As for poachers, they exist now and poaching rifles are not exactly something easily concealed under most states’ concealed handgun laws.

  10. travis permalink
    January 3, 2009 12:26 AM


    Awesome post, however….

    You failed to mention that this measure will be brought to court in a bid to stop the rule. The Association of National Park Rangers will file suit and says, as you do, that the presence of concealed weapons increases the potential for loss of life, mainly wildlife. As an animal advocate this matter makes me very angry.

    I use this as my source regarding court activity. The aspect about animal rights is one that I will no doubt be back and comment on later.

    Echoing the Brady Campaign sentiment is The Association of National Park Rangers, which could file a similar federal suit next week.

    Association President Scott McElveen said the presence of concealed weapons increases the potential for loss of life, mainly wildlife.

    McElveen said there are poachers who will kill deer, bear and other national park wildlife regardless of the rules and other park visitors “who wouldn’t break the law no matter what.”

    He is concerned about those people visiting parks “with no intent to do anything but are tempted by circumstance.”

    “They have a weapon loaded and immediately available and can’t resist taking the trophy animal, having a little target practice or shooting an animal that is a varmint such as coyotes and rattlesnakes,” McElveen said. “This is not appropriate inside a national park.”

    McElveen also is worried about visitors to parks from urban areas who may hear a noise in the night while camping and “shoot out.”

    He said their shots could endanger more than just wildlife.

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