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.