As of Monday, Feb. 22, it is perfectly A-OK to pack loaded, concealed guns into most U.S. National Parks and Wildlife Refuges.
The law was passed by Congress in May and signed by President Obama, and basically reverses 94 years of National Park Service policy. Previously, people were allowed to transport unloaded, disassembled weapons in the trunks of their cars. The law was a rider attached to the Credit Card Act of 2009, an act that the Washington Post’s Michelle Singletary derided as laden with loopholes.
Meanwhile, Patricia Kitchen weighed in at Newsday, trying to fill in her readers all about the Credit Card Act.
Obviously, the gun provision was almost beside the point in this legislation.
The idea behind the re-write was to support those who claimed they wanted as much personal protection in the national parks as they would in any neighboring state.
But Steve Casimiro, editor of The Adventure Life, claims otherwise.
“The crime rate in national parks is so low, no additional laws are needed to address it,” he wrote in a blog post, “especially ones that bring loaded guns into parks. In 2008, there were 5.4 homicides per 100,000 people and 29.3 rapes nationally in the United States (based on a population of 304 million, 16,272 homicides, and 89,000 rapes).
“In that same year in national parks, there were a total of 5 murders and 24 rapes out of 275 million visitors, which, if my math is correct, gives the parks a homicide rate of .0018 per 100,000 and rapes of .0087 per 100,000. That means you’re 3,000 times less likely to be murdered in a park and 3,367 times less likely to be raped than anywhere else in the United States.
“The numbers confirm what we already know: National parks are refuges. They are safe–not 100 percent safe, but no place is 100 percent safe.”
Guns still won’t be allowed in buildings where federal employees work, such as the Statue of Liberty and park visitors centers. “But restaurants, hotels and gift shops will be subject to the new gun law. Yosemite’s historic Ahwahnee hotel, for example, must allow visitors who are legally entitled to carry weapons to bring them into the building,” according to a news report in the Los Angeles Times.
Currently, no federal policy exists prohibiting the carrying of concealed deadly weapons within National Forest lands, and thus states are free to establish individual policies regarding the carrying of concealed deadly weapons on such properties. Additionally, states are always free to establish individual policies regarding the carrying of concealed deadly weapons within state parks. If concerns expressed by those opposed to the removal of the referenced restriction within National Parks are rational, then those opponents should be able to demonstrate that individuals who legally carry concealed deadly weapons within National Forests and within state parks where that practice is not prohibited have engaged in a statistically meaningful number of negligent or otherwise criminal shootings. Thus far, however, no opponent has made any attempt to reference such data, even though I have requested such information from multiple individual opponents.
The law actually “Prohibits the Secretary of the Interior from making any law restricting the possession of firearms or enforcing any such restrictions other than a state’s pre-existing gun laws in the National Park or National Wildlife Refuge Systems (Sec. 512).”
There is no change in who can carry what, just who can make a law about changing who can carry what.
This piece focuses on personal protection via firearms from other humans. What about threats from wildlife? I appreciate being able to CMA when I’m in bear country without having to worry about Feds citing me for carrying a gun.
Thar be wolves and bears, coyotes, mountain lions, cougars and moose and sech varmints. Hell, a park *inside* vancouver, washington where I grew up had a mountain lion living in it up until about 10 years ago (and the ‘couv had tens of thousands of people living in it already!)
didn’t think about that before the diatribe didja?
guns have a place…even in today’s society.