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Senate Votes to Allow Guns at National Parks

By Ed O'Keefe

Updated 5:54 p.m. ET

The Senate passed a measure today that would allow visitors to carry concealed loaded firearms in national parks and wildlife refuges, approving a bill that could restore a Bush-era policy rejected by a federal judge in March.

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) introduced the bill as an amendment to the credit card reform package, which passed the Senate earlier today. Twenty-seven Democrats voted for the amendment, including Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who had blocked similar efforts in the past.

"If an American citizen has a right to carry a firearm in their state, it makes no sense to treat them like a criminal if they pass through a national park while in possession of a firearm,” Coburn said in a statement.

The Obama administration declined to file an appeal in the federal case, filed in early January by gun rights advocates.

The Interior Department made the rule change last year in response to requests by 51 senators from both parties who wanted consistency between the National Park Service's gun rules and state laws. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, then a Democratic senator from Colorado, joined his Senate colleagues in making the request while then-Sens. Barack Obama and Joe Biden did not. The rule changed a Reagan-era regulation that allows weapons to be carried into a national park or wildlife refuge only if they are disassembled and out of reach.

The White House and Interior Department officials declined to comment since the litigation continues, but Salazar addressed the issue in a recent interview with American Cowboy Magazine:

"The issue of guns is an ideological issue and a divisive issue. It divides the country, and I hope it doesn’t become the defining issue for the Department of the Interior or for these times," he said.

"No one is about taking away the rights of gun owners," Salazar said later. "The President is not about that. Neither am I. So as we deal with this specific issue, we will make sure we are honoring the Second Amendment and also honoring the public safety and environmental concerns people have raised about the issue."

When asked, Salazar, who grew up on a ranch, said he would carry a gun into a national park if he felt he was in danger.

"You’re out sometimes on the ranch our in the mountains, there’s a sense of security you have with a gun with you. So I have a great respect for guns," he said.

The House could pass the gun bill as early as tomorrow. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said today that his chamber could vote separately on the gun legislation, allowing members to vote differently on the gun and credit card bills. The two measures would then be rejoined and sent to the president as a single bill, Hoyer said.

By Ed O'Keefe  | May 19, 2009; 4:11 PM ET
Categories:  Agencies and Departments, Congress  
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Comments

a gun in the national park.dead rangers and attacked visitors.

great going senate

Posted by: newagent99 | May 19, 2009 4:28 PM | Report abuse

Wait, I thought Barack was going to take away all our guns. What, you mean the GOP was b.s.ing....again? What a shock.

Posted by: SWB2 | May 19, 2009 4:32 PM | Report abuse

newagent99 wrote- a gun in the national park.dead rangers and attacked visitors.

great going senate

------------------------------------------

So you think people with concealed carry licenses will start bringing guns into parks with the pupose of shooting rangers and visitors now that guns are legal?

Posted by: 12oreo | May 19, 2009 4:46 PM | Report abuse

I 'm sure the Post will run an editorial bemoaning the gun rule change and predicting dead park rangers and slaughtered wildlife. These are the same dire predictions that were seen time and time again as states reformed their concealed carry laws, and they did not come to pass. Why would it be any different in a national park?

Posted by: benminer | May 19, 2009 4:59 PM | Report abuse


Just out of curiosity, what is the crime rate in USA's national parks?
I realize that gun advocates want the right to arm bears... I man the right to bear arms, but the Parks' entrance fees seem to be deterrence enough to mist criminals.

Posted by: Anadromous2 | May 19, 2009 5:11 PM | Report abuse

I think what the majority of you seem to be missing is the fact that, NO MATTER WHAT, if someone wants to bring a gun somewhere, they will do it. It does not matter if they have the permit to do so. It does not matter if it is illegal or legal. Look at the hand gun ban on DC. Did it work? Not really. There were still plenty of hand guns in DC. Just because they are going to allow them in national parks does not mean visitors and rangers are going to start dropping like flies. It also does not mean that people are going to go out and buy a gun to bring to the park just because they can now. Way to go GOP? How about you read above and see that 27 democrats voted to pass the bill as well, including one that had voted not to in the past. If you are that worried about whether or not people are allowed to bring guns where you are going, I think you should just go to the hardware store, purchase as many window and door locks as you can, and lock yourself in your residence ASAP. Use peapod and safeway.com for food if you need it.

Posted by: capsfan55 | May 19, 2009 5:17 PM | Report abuse

UNBELIEVABLE!!

How stupid are these people?

NRA lackies.

Oh, boy, mom and dad let's go out into the middle of nowhere and get raped, robbed and murdered in our Nationa Park this summer.

Posted by: morenews1 | May 19, 2009 5:50 PM | Report abuse

I am sick of bullies with guns bullying our representatives. It is bad enough that we have to contend with guns in our cities, but now we might have to worry about them while we are picnicking in our national parks, and visiting our monuments.

I think I will bring a gun with me the next time I visit George Washington's Birthplace - which is a national monument in a national park - or the Lincoln Memorial.

The worst part about this bill is it makes me want to go out and buy a gun - so that when some yahoo shoots my loved one or my dog (because he looks like a wolf) I can shoot him dead.

I am not against the right to bare arms. I know that hunting is incredibly valuable to our wildlife maintenance programs and our culture. In fact, I enjoy shooting guns and I understand their appeal. But as a former resident of Washington, DC, and a current resident on the West Side of Chicago I have personally lived in the damage that guns create in civil society. There is a reason they are regulated like tobacco and alcohol.

Posted by: dorellem | May 19, 2009 5:57 PM | Report abuse

We ought to start allowing guns in churches also. Also, you never know what kind of shaddy character lurks in a grocery store, might as well allow guns to be carried there as well. Movie theaters, resturants, you name it. Everbody carry a gun and when someone disses you, you can shoot them in the face, just like Dick the drunken fool Cheney did. Guns for everyone, it's the American way.

Posted by: kubrickstan | May 19, 2009 6:02 PM | Report abuse

In case you're interested, most states do not forbid carrying in religious buildings if you have a permit and there aren't weekly shootouts over bad sermons or typos in the bulletin. So what does that say about your gloom and doom predictions? And to the other poster, you still won't be able to bring a gun to the Lincoln monument because it's in DC. People are finally beginning to wake up to the fact that the chicken little "sky is falling" fear-mongering hoplophobes are full of BS.

Posted by: benminer | May 19, 2009 6:16 PM | Report abuse

If Americans weren't such complete idiots, we'd have repealed the Second Amendment a long time ago. It's our Constitution's (too often) fatal flaw.

Posted by: jonfromcali | May 19, 2009 6:17 PM | Report abuse

having camped near drunken young men in national parks all i can say is i will not be returning to those places again. my point is why give the green light for and make it legal and put families and all campers at risk. criminals will smuggle weapons in as usual but why encourage weekend partyers to tote pistols around tourist spots?! wilderness areas are o.k. but yosemite valley campground?

Posted by: veroman | May 19, 2009 6:30 PM | Report abuse

Here in Free America, you can carry your handgun into a church, restaurant, bank and soon, colleges. More than 300,000 individuals have a license to carry. But our murder rate is about 1/4th of DC. I wonder why that is?

Posted by: Fiftycaltx1 | May 19, 2009 6:37 PM | Report abuse

Just out of curiosity, what is the crime rate in USA's national parks?
I realize that gun advocates want the right to arm bears... I man the right to bear arms, but the Parks' entrance fees seem to be deterrence enough to mist criminals.

Posted by: Anadromous2 | May 19, 2009 5:11 PM

*****************************************

Anadromous2,

You raise a very valid question. Crime in National Parks had been on the increase for the past several years. The most well-publicized local case in the past few years was the shooting murder of two women hikers near the Skyline Drive in the Shenandoah National Park. However, this case was hardly isolated or a rare instance. According to an article in the Christian Science Monitor in August 2005, Park Service Rangers suffer death or injury in the line of duty at the hands of criminals more than any other Federal law enforcement agency. They are 12 times more likely to be assaulted than FBI agents. Their death or injury rates are higher than Border Patrol agents confronting smugglers, higher than those of Custom & Immigration Enforcement agents conducting illegal alien raids, and higher than those of Drug Enforcement Agency agents making drug busts.

And the danger in the parks is not limited to the Rangers. Park visitors are confronting more personal danger from other visitors under the influence of alcohol or drugs, from criminals seeking a non-urban environment to conduct robbery and other property crimes, and from meth lab and marijuana patch operators that they might stumble onto.

BTW, dorellem, guns don't create danger in civil society any more than automobiles create drunken drivers.

Posted by: hisroc | May 19, 2009 6:37 PM | Report abuse

The Post has done its readers a disservice by failing to highlight the actual effect of the law.

The law DOES NOT give a blanket authorization for everyone to carry a weapon into Federal parks.

What the law does do is permit citizens who are ALREADY LEGALLY AUTHORIZED to carry a concealed weapon in a given state to carry a weapon on Federal parkland located in that state.

As an example: before this law, a Florida citizen with a state-issued license to carry a concealed handgun would instantly become a Federal criminal if he carried his Florida-legal handgun into the Everglades National Park.

Shame on the Post for not making the real impact of the law clear, and instead running with a fear-mongering and inaccurate story.

Posted by: DupontJay | May 19, 2009 7:21 PM | Report abuse

For those NRA types who think this was a success, I have a question.
When are you going to agitate for allowing guns into the visitors' section of Congress, inside the Courts, in schools, and at sports events?

If you can't get that done, and guns are still restricted, you can't boast about this being a gun toting republic.

Posted by: PatMaGroyn | May 19, 2009 7:22 PM | Report abuse

A Senate full of morons! A House, too. And a country full of teeth chattering, fear filled voters who put them there.

Posted by: clscurnutt | May 19, 2009 7:24 PM | Report abuse

For those NRA types who think this was a success, I have a question.
When are you going to agitate to allowing guns into the visitors' section of Congress, inside the Courts, in schools, and at sports events?

If you can't get that done, and guns are still restricted in those areas, you can't boast about this being a gun toting republic.

Posted by: PatMaGroyn | May 19, 2009 7:25 PM | Report abuse

Remind me -- why was it you needed to carry a concealed handgun in a national park? Only one reason comes to mind: more adequately to show contempt for the rest of us, many of whom, like me, will stay away from national parks. In this regard the US is becoming increasingly uncivilized, and our gutless Congress is cooperating in this. The proliferation of guns has proven deadly, and dangerous, and only some extremity of selfishness can account for the bullying that is making it so.

Posted by: fjdeacon | May 19, 2009 7:38 PM | Report abuse

It's time for Obama's first veto.

Send the bill back -- until it's clean.

Reid must now go. He's obviously an incompetent, clueless twit if he allowed a gift to the NRA to be attached to a (credit card) bill that is supposed to be about consumer protection (as opposed to public endangerment).

Posted by: pali2600 | May 19, 2009 7:42 PM | Report abuse

To correct an earlier poster, this change will not simply allow concealed carry, but open carry as well in states where it is permitted. Furthermore in states like PA and VA which do not require a permit to open carry, anyone who could otherwise open carry in that state could do so in a national park. The previous Bush rule which was subsequently shut down by a judge only permitted concealed carry in parks.

Posted by: benminer | May 19, 2009 7:44 PM | Report abuse

Many Acta, you better watch your back.

Posted by: ImpeachObama | May 19, 2009 7:49 PM | Report abuse

pali2600 wrote- It's time for Obama's first veto.

Send the bill back -- until it's clean.

Reid must now go. He's obviously an incompetent, clueless twit if he allowed a gift to the NRA to be attached to a (credit card) bill that is supposed to be about consumer protection (as opposed to public endangerment).

------------------------------------------
Are you going to fire the other 26 democrats who voted for it also? I do agree that adding this provision to the credit card bill is BS type politics practiced by both parties.

Posted by: 12oreo | May 19, 2009 7:54 PM | Report abuse

How very sad for our country and for all who look upon our national parks as places of peace and quiet. As a woman from the West who has hiked and camped with other women, it is a frightening prospect to consider coming across any man carrying an AK-47 in the woodland glen. Can we possibly still recognize America the Beautiful? And please, gun lovers, give it a rest about women defending themselves with firearms: a soldier at military installation just shot and killed 5 fellow soldiers, all with extensive firearms training and carrying assault weapons themselves.
The bullies of the gun lobby are running the show in the halls of Congress and this will continue until the majority of Americans who support stricter gun laws get off their duffs and call in and insist their reps find some backbone and stand up for public safety. Get info: bradycenter.org

Posted by: post-it2 | May 19, 2009 8:18 PM | Report abuse

Is there any chance that I could be given permission to take a sub-machine gun into the park? It makes me feel like a man. I have this overwhelming urge to say: "Make my day!"

If you read the Second Amendment I am sure that you will find that it is badly drafted and that its meaning is ambiguous. Consequently, the claim that it grants a right to bear arms is contestable.

Of course, if you do not want to take an objective approach to its construction you can always believe whatever you want to believe.

Posted by: robertjames1 | May 19, 2009 8:46 PM | Report abuse

...a soldier at military installation just shot and killed 5 fellow soldiers, all with extensive firearms training and carrying assault weapons themselves.

Posted by: post-it2 | May 19, 2009 8:18 PM

***************************************

post-it2,

Your use of a tragic firearms incident involving a mentally disturbed soldier and innocent victims is despicable and cannot be allowed to go unanswered.

By your own twisted and demented logic that holds that nothing is worth defending, you have proven the falsity of your position. The soldier who committed the shootings had previously been disarmed of his assigned weapon by his commanding officer. Nonetheless, he was able to get his hands on a loaded weapon. "When firearms are outlawed, only outlaws have firearms." His victims in the stress counseling center were not "carrying assault weapons themselves." They were prohibited from bringing their assigned weapons to the clinic. "When people are unarmed, they are more easily made victims."

Stick with the facts and don't twist the circumstances of a tragic situation to suit your ignorant bias.

BTW, I'm going to guess that you were not at Notre Dame this weekend protesting President Obama's position on abortion. Based on your position on firearms, you should have been. While less than 30,000 Americans are killed by firearms each year, including law enforcement shootings, accidents, intentional criminal shootings, and suicide, over 800,000 Americans were killed last year by abortions. That okay with you?

Posted by: hisroc | May 19, 2009 8:47 PM | Report abuse

The United States Supreme Court reaffirmed the constitutional right to keep and bear arms last year.

An overwhelmingly bipartisan United States Senate partially recognized the right to bear arms this year. And we can rest assured the United States House of Representatives will do the same.

Looks like a minority of anti-gun citizens can't the thwart constitutional-republic form of government. That's as is should be.

Posted by: srb2 | May 19, 2009 8:48 PM | Report abuse

Hisroc:

Can you please cite a location where you found factual information stating that no one else in the stress clinic had a firearm?

Posted by: post-it2 | May 19, 2009 9:04 PM | Report abuse

A great deal of misinformation and hyperbole in this thread. We'd all be better off if we addressed the facts of the law, rather than making up scary strawmen.

Does this law allow anyone to carry weapons in DC national parks? Answer: NO, because DC doesn't allow its citizens to carry weapons; the law merely extends the appropriate state law into the National parkland.

Does this law allow "submachine guns" and "AK-47s" into National parks. Answer: NO, because unlicensed possession of machine guns has been illegal nationwide since 1934 (and no licensed machine gun has EVER been used in a violent crime since then).

If a weapon is legal to carry in (say) Virginia, this just means you won't go to jail if you comply with state weapons law in that state's National parkland. In those states that already prohibit their citizens from walking around armed, nothing changes.

Posted by: DupontJay | May 19, 2009 9:16 PM | Report abuse

Great. Anyone want to bet how long it takes before some innocent park-goer takes a bullet for someone else's Constitutional right to pack heat in a park? I'm betting either Fourth of July or Labor Day. Guns, beer and plenty of tourists is an irresistible combination.

Posted by: windrider2 | May 19, 2009 9:17 PM | Report abuse

Some real ignorance being evidenced in many of the comments by folks who truly have no understanding of gun ownership, gun use, or gun owners.

Many of you have simply made your lives "easier" by consigning criminal intent to any individual who would deign to own or carry a gun in a situation where you would not. Intellectual laziness....

Be that as it may.....

A point which all of you should take note of..... the Dem leadership is scared smart by the power of gun owners in America. Which is as it should be. And maybe, just maybe, some of the leadership might actually grasp the meaning and intent of the Constitution....

One can hope. But if they are scared, that's good enough for me.

FF

Posted by: FreedomFetishist | May 19, 2009 9:20 PM | Report abuse


Hisroc:

Can you please cite a location where you found factual information stating that no one else in the stress clinic had a firearm?

Posted by: post-it2 | May 19, 2009 9:04 PM

*************************************

post-it2,

Your question hardly deserves a response, but there are too many whack-jobs like you reading here who will buy into your false premise that, if armed soldiers couldn't stop a rampage, then armed civilians are more dangerous than helpful.

Google it yourself, stupid, and you will find plenty of "factual information." I'm not going to play your silly game of giving you citations that you can quibble.

BTW, according to news reports, one of the victims, Specialist Jacob Barton, was shot as he attempted to shield other patients in the waiting room and tried to talk Sergeant Russell into surrendering his weapon. I'm sure that you will believe that this took place while others were laying down a base of fire in the direction of Sergeant Russell, or that at least a dozen armed people were held at bay by one gunman.

I hate to resort to name-calling, but you really take the cake.

Posted by: hisroc | May 19, 2009 9:41 PM | Report abuse

Statement by robertjames1
"If you read the Second Amendment I am sure that you will find that it is badly drafted and that its meaning is ambiguous. Consequently, the claim that it grants a right to bear arms is contestable."

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
If you use the above statement from the declaration of independence in consert with the 2nd amendment you will find that if the soldiers and the government are the only ones that are armed we would be unable to throw off that government as specified as one of our rights in the declaration of independence.

Posted by: mont9744 | May 19, 2009 9:50 PM | Report abuse

The Coburn amendment (attached to the credit card bill) allows concealed or open carrying of loaded firearms, including semiautomatic assault weapons, in every national park and wildlife refuge where state law does not prohibit it. An AK-47 is a semiautomatic military assault weapon, right? And the gun lobby can't get enough of them out on the streets, or onto our hiking paths, now that the ban on assault weapons has expired (also as a result of pressure from the gun lobby). Creepy, and extremely dangerous.

Posted by: post-it2 | May 19, 2009 9:51 PM | Report abuse

veroman says "having camped near drunken young men in national parks all i can say is i will not be returning to those places again." The gun lobby could not care less about your concerns. They think you should have a gun to protect yourself in that situation, and if their gun or yours is stolen the only problem caused is that you won't have a gun until you get a new one. Their view is heil guns, guns uber alles.

Posted by: newageblues | May 19, 2009 9:52 PM | Report abuse

Hisroc:

I have tried to Google it, with no results. You are as interested in the truth as I am, right? Then share your sources with the public you want to persuade.

Posted by: post-it2 | May 19, 2009 9:55 PM | Report abuse

How do you carry a concealed AK47? in your shorts?

Posted by: mont9744 | May 19, 2009 10:02 PM | Report abuse

Post-It2: I've been to Baghdad, so I think I can speak to your question. At Camp Liberty, where the clinic was located, soldiers carry their firearm at all times, but are almost always under orders to keep them unloaded.

If your rifle is unloaded, you're probably not going to get a chance to return fire if an assailant bursts in the door. Even less so if your rifle is sitting unloaded in a rack by the door (which is SOP in many buildings).

Posted by: DupontJay | May 19, 2009 10:04 PM | Report abuse

Ok, DupontJay, that brings some clarity. Still, there must be facts of this specific case somewhere that Hisroc has, since he is much, much smarter than I am.
But DupontJay, do you think it is a good idea for everyone in a psychiatric facility to carry firearms?
Also, isn't it a nuisance to carry an assault rifle all over a military facility all day every day when it is never loaded?
But I appreciate your straight talk.

Posted by: post-it2 | May 19, 2009 10:15 PM | Report abuse

If you're a psychiatric inpatient, I don't think anyone is going to argue for your right to carry a weapon.

Totally different story if you're a soldier in a combat zone who just wants to go in and talk to a counselor to better cope with the stresses of family separation or seeing buddies get hurt. That's what this place at Camp Liberty was: a Stress Clinic. Not a psychiatric hospital.

When SGT Russell started acting squirrelly, his commander had a continuum of responses available to him: do nothing, or send him to counseling, or take away his weapon and send him to counseling, or have him physically restrained as a psychiatric emergency. The commander took the middle path, which was a totally legitimate option; hindsight is 20/20.

And yes, it is a huge hassle to carry a rifle around with you at *all* times. Lots of folks griped. But carrying a weapon with the magazine out still meant you could have a loaded weapon in your hands within 10 seconds or so; far from ideal, but much better than nothing.

Of course (to get us back on topic), this has absolutely nothing to do with the issue of whether it should be criminal to carry a weapon in a National Park if it's legal to carry a weapon in that very same state's local parks.

Posted by: DupontJay | May 20, 2009 12:22 AM | Report abuse

Ok, I'm up late tonight and you seem rational, so let's try this again. The Russell case is relevant because he was surrounded by people with extensive training in firearms, and this is the fundamental argument made by the pro-gun camp: get your training & get your gun and defend yourself. I have researched this but have not been able to find a clear statement that there was no one at this clinic with access to a loaded gun (as hisroc claims), despite the fact these were all soldiers. These facts should be documentable public knowledge.
I lost a friend to gun violence and the only way he could have prevented his death as pro gun types advocate, would have been for him to have had a loaded gun in his hand and had it already pointed at the guy who shot him and a few others. But the shooting was totally, completely unexpected (as they almost always are). The guy pulled a gun out of his jacket, and that was it. It would be like glancing in the rear view mirror and seeing a Mac truck in the split second before it hit your car.
As I said, I have spent time in the national parks (having visited all but two states) and I have seen altercations: people arguing over campsites, or drunks getting rowdy, people irrationally chasing bears with frying pans. I have a kid now who loves to backpack, and I worry about him. He already carries a heavy pack without having to weigh it down with steel. It has been my own experience that throwing loaded guns into the mix makes any situation potentially more lethal, and our national parks have traditionally been, in the minds of most people, places where Americans should not be divided, but united in the enjoyment of natural beauty, quiet serenity, and in a shared degree of mutual trust. I also support the park rangers who oppose this legislation.
Frankly, you seem pretty level-headed, but the majority of your fellow gun enthusiasts do not strike me as having much self-control and are so easily agitated, which is not reassuring to the rest of us.

Posted by: post-it2 | May 20, 2009 1:17 AM | Report abuse

Latest statistics are 16 murdered in our National Parks. Ask the families of those people if they would of wanted their family member to have the ability to protect themselves. Why do Park Rangers carry weapons? Could it be for protection? Why can't I protect myelf and my family are we not important enough or do we need to be murdered to count! I thought that this was only to allow legal concealed carry citizens to carry a weapon in a National Park instead of being illegal just for crossing a boundary line.

Posted by: utahexplorer | May 20, 2009 11:39 AM | Report abuse

How does this amendment stand in light of the Supreme Court's decision in District of Columbia v. Heller? In his majority opinion Justice Scalia stated: "...like most rights, the Second Amendment is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose. The Court's opinion....should not be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of fireasm in sensitive places [sic] such as schools and government buildings...." Our national parks are indeed sensitive places, where people can go and relax and enjoy nature's beauty.

Also, Sen. Coburn argues that his amendment is necessary because "visitors to national parks should have the right to defend themselves in accordance with the laws of their states." How many crimes have been committed in our national parks that warrant the carrying of a firearm? I would suspect that it is relatively rare in light of the millions of people who visit them each year.

Posted by: keg527 | May 20, 2009 11:46 AM | Report abuse

I say ask the families of the 16 murdered if their family member counted. 16 out millions sounds pretty good unless you are one of the 16 and it could of been prevented with personal protection.

Posted by: utahexplorer | May 20, 2009 12:18 PM | Report abuse

The illogical and emotional responses by so many people here are unfortunately typical of anti-gunowners.

Every one of us trust our lives to complete strangers multiple times every single day, by walking in a mall, driving on the freeway, eating at a fast food diner.

Bad things can and do happen to people in every place you can think of. Of course, the vast majority of experiences in every day life are positive or neutral. But to pretend that bad things will come from good people being prepared is just plain lazy thinking, exposing pre-existing prejudices.

It's a tired and worn expression, but it does express the truth; guns don't kill people, people kill people.

Stop judging people by what they possess, rather than by how they behave.

You have nothing to fear from armed, law-abiding citizens.

FF

Posted by: FreedomFetishist | May 20, 2009 2:32 PM | Report abuse

Lefties, put down your bongs and get your heads out of the sand.
The whole world is not paved or "safe".
Park Crime Statistics are here for your verification:
http://www.hkshooter.net/nps/crime.html

I carry a gun because I can't carry a whole cop...especially backpacking.
JS

Posted by: tjschul | May 20, 2009 3:18 PM | Report abuse

Park rangers will have a substantial enforcement problem with both open and concealed weapons, taking these rangers away from their primary responsibilities. Will they be able by park regulation to require concealed weapons to be declared prior to entry? If not, how do they decide which weapons are legal or not without expending extensive resources on law enforcement. The policy invites illegal firearms to be brought into the parks. And are there any states that allow concealed weapons without permits or have minimal permitting requirements? Many national parks resemble high density cities, especially during vacation periods, and big city law enforcement will have to be the norm.

Posted by: Munodi | May 20, 2009 3:38 PM | Report abuse

Wow, gun owners are taking a lot of abuse here. It should be pointed out to those who would deny us our Constitutional right that according to the FBI, citizens who have a state permit to carry a firearm are 50% less likely to commit a crime then those without a permit. I would be more concerned with someone beating me with a branch then a permit holder shooting me.

Posted by: gerrypooh | May 20, 2009 5:36 PM | Report abuse

I guess you can't please everyone but all of those who think this is such a bad idea should read about what happend to Merideth Emerson while jogging in a park in 2008. Maybe it will shed a little different light on your thoughts. Maybe.

Posted by: myayers | May 20, 2009 8:07 PM | Report abuse

Munodi said

"Park rangers will have a substantial enforcement problem with both open and concealed weapons, taking these rangers away from their primary responsibilities. Will they be able by park regulation to require concealed weapons to be declared prior to entry? If not, how do they decide which weapons are legal or not without expending extensive resources on law enforcement. The policy invites illegal firearms to be brought into the parks. And are there any states that allow concealed weapons without permits or have minimal permitting requirements? Many national parks resemble high density cities, especially during vacation periods, and big city law enforcement will have to be the norm."

Once again, the anti-gunowner associates negative intent with the possession of an object, rather than focusing on illegal acts.

Why would the park authority have to bother with people possessing firearms at all, unless the possession was accompanied by illegal acts?

Look, you make our arguments for us. The busier the park, the more chance of criminal activity, therefore the greater the need for personal protection.

To answer your question about states which allow carry without a license - Vermont. But as far as I know, the legislation only allows concealed carry, not open carry, at least that is how the regulation was worded originally. All this talk about seeing people walking around with AK47s is simply hysterics.

FF

Posted by: FreedomFetishist | May 20, 2009 10:21 PM | Report abuse

The reality is that firearms exist and are in the hands of civilians. Unfortunately, there is no way to thoroughly place these items in the hands of upstanding citizens only. Just as unfortunate, is the fact that more criminals are carrying illegally than level-headed productive members of our nation are carrying legally.
In Texas the process for obtaining a license to conceal a handgun is long, includes a thorough background check, and the requirement to attend a certification course that lasts roughly 6-8 hours which also requires that the applicant shoots to show proficiency in hitting the target.
The reason that I explain this process is to demonstrate the red tape-that I believe should be in place-I addressed to legally carry a concealed handgun. After the license to carry arrived, I quickly asserted that I was not going to make a mistake, and certainly not an intentional violation, that would strip me of the privilege I worked to get.
It is too bad that so few of us see the cruel reality of life and therefore prepare accordingly. The tragedy comes to my view in the larger number of those who do not recognize the danger of unlicensed weapons and the criminals holding them. I carry everywhere I can, not because I am paranoid or because I want to hurt someone, but because I realize there truly is danger in the world and just like I have insurance for my vehicle, my sidearm is the insurance I carry for my personal protection.
I never want to shoot anyone. However, if I am placed in the situation I want the ability to defend myself and loved ones. I also know the best defensive shooter never has to draw his/her firearm.
Shockingly, I am rather left. Referring to me as a right-winger would be an insult. I voted for Obama and never thought I would own a gun. Then I was at a gathering after work and someone, not an associate of mine, shot several rounds in the house I was occupying. In fact, I was almost shot in the throat. I purchased my first firearm the next day. Not for retaliation, but for protection.
Law-abiding "gun toters" have no interest in breaking the law. On the other hand, I am more interested in waking up tomorrow knowing that, if need be, I have protection for myself and family. In my opinion, I should have that privilege whether I am in Houston or a national park.
Enjoy life, have fun, but be safe and responsible.

Posted by: mrowell1 | May 20, 2009 10:56 PM | Report abuse

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Posted by: dionblessing | May 21, 2009 10:56 AM | Report abuse

The people that I know who are against the carrying of guns invariably talk about how they would use a gun to get what they want. I believe those against carrying guns do so because they don't trust themselves. They don't trust what they would do with the percieved power of having one. They also think the rest of us are like them. HELLO! Some of us are responsible citizens who carry guns every day. We would never use them except to protect our lives and those of our family. It is also difficult for those who don't venture into the wilderness to understand that you have just entered natures food chain. Maybe that's why rangers carry guns while we are expected to carry a useless can of mace.

Posted by: FishnSage | May 21, 2009 12:58 PM | Report abuse

There have already been three confirmed mass shootings committed by concealed carry permit holders this year (Michael McLendon in Alabama, Richard Poplawski in Pittsburgh, and France Garcia in upstate New York), along with a host of other homicides in violent crimes. The screening process for permit holders is as much a joke as the one for gun purchasers in this country. This is the latest insane step toward a national gun policy that sacrifices the freedom of the general public for the paranoid desires of a vocal minority.

Posted by: gritsjr | May 21, 2009 2:12 PM | Report abuse

And let's be clear...the violent crime rate in our National Parks is 289 times lower than for the country as a whole. As with other gun free zones in the United States, they are some of the safest places in the entire country...by far. The Coburn Amendment will now introduce America's failed, weak gun policies into a haven for peaceful interaction with nature.

Posted by: gritsjr | May 21, 2009 2:16 PM | Report abuse

THANK YOU, THANK YOU FOR ALLOWING GUNS IN NATION PARTS. THIS SHOWS THAT TRUE AMERICANS ARE STILL ALIVE AND GETTING THINGS DONE. WE WILL BE SAFER NOW AND THE PEOPLE STAY IN OUR PARKS CAN NOW SLEEP AT NIGHT KNOWING THAT THEY WILL BE ABLE TO WAKE UP IN THE MORNING AND NOT HAVE BEEN ATTACKED BY BEARS OR CRIMINALS.

Posted by: CHIP7801 | May 21, 2009 2:44 PM | Report abuse

newagent99 wrote- a gun in the national park.dead rangers and attacked visitors.

great going senate

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So you think people with concealed carry licenses will start bringing guns into parks with the pupose of shooting rangers and visitors now that guns are legal?
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ROFL, Those concealed permit holders were waiting for them to legalize carry in parks before they could kill rangers and tourists. IT WOULD HAVE BEEN AGAINST THE LAW BEFORE NOW!!!!

Posted by: PA762 | May 25, 2009 4:43 PM | Report abuse

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