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Wide White: Unleashing guns in national parks?

Monday, March 10, 2008

Unleashing guns in national parks?

Having worked in a national park for a summer in college, this story particularly interests me.
Gun advocates pushing for review of ban in national parks

A 25-year-old ban on loaded firearms in national parks, including Voyageurs National Park in Minnesota, is in the crosshairs of the U.S. Department of the Interior and 51 senators, including Minnesota's Norm Coleman.

Senators have written two letters to Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne asking for the ban to be shot down "in the interest of Second Amendment rights and consistency in firearms policy across federal public land management agencies." Kempthorne has instructed his staff to develop new rules and propose them for public comment by April 30.
Coleman, through a spokesman, said the present rule needs updating. "Sen. Coleman believes the current system governing firearms in national parks is confusing and outdated because it does not reflect the vast changes in state gun laws enacted over the past 25 years," said Luke Friedrich, the Republican's Minnesota press secretary. "The federal government should be consistent with the laws of the states in which these parks reside and it should also respect 2nd Amendment rights."

U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., did not sign the letters to the Interior Department.
I remember thinking when I lived in the park how ridiculous it was that no one living in the park was able to own a firearm. There are thousands of people who permanently reside on federal property and have to abide by this law. I see no justified reason for it, especially considering the danger presented in a few parks by some of the wildlife. Wildlife interactions are fairly uncommon, but still, pepper spray just doesn't always cut it.

I also couldn't disagree more with this statement.
Not everyone thinks this change is on target, including the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees. "Terrible idea," retired park superintendent Doug Morris said in a conference call. The no-loaded-guns rule, which dates to 1982, protects wildlife, he said, adding that relaxing the restriction would jeopardize the safety of park employees and visitors.
Take my one summer against Morris' numerous years for what they are, but I see no reason that anyone's safety would be any more jeopardized due to this than not. Of course, that all changes if you believe that banning guns actually reduces crime...


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