Thursday, April 23, 2009

Guns in National Parks: Yes, No, or Sometimes?

Last month U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly struck down the last-minute rule by the Bush administration that briefly allowed loaded, readily accessible firearms in national parks. Prior to this, loaded and accessible firearms in national parks had been prohibited since a 1983 ruling by the Reagan administration.

The Obama administration has said they will not challenge Kollar-Kotelly's ruling, which apparently had to do with a lack of any environmental impact studies, so unless something changes it will continue to be illegal to have loaded, accessible firearms in national parks.

There is an increase in drug and violent crime in national parks. This is especially so along the southern border in parks like Big Bend or Organ Pipe. The park rangers are outgunned and outnumbered. For these reasons, I would favor a ruling whereby national parks followed state law for firearms--laws prohibiting legal carry do nothing to decrease illegal carry already going on. Parks are no different than cities in that respect. (See "Ranger Details Crater Lake Shooting" for an example of violence in national parks.)

Certainly some exception should be made for carrying firearms in motor homes or other campers. These vehicles are treated like residences for many purposes in most states and the rules about firearms in homes would apply. In most RVs, there isn't anywhere "out of reach" to store a weapon. Certainly your "Good Sam Club" members aren't considered to be at a high risk for poaching or committing assault? If you're touring Oregon and want to visit Crater Lake, it's seems silly to say you have to stop off at home first to drop off your weapons that have been in the car for the rest of the trip.

I also think CHL permits (concealed carry) should be allowed in the parks. If you're on a trip around the state & take a firearm, especially a pistol, IMHO the very worst place to leave it in is your car at a remote trail head--taking it with you is much more responsible.

But what do you all think?

What is your opinion on whether or under what circumstances loaded, accessible firearms should be allowed in national parks? Please support your argument.



Zak Johnson said...

Update: Article about government scientists unable to do research due to drug gangs in Organ Pipe National Monument. Very illustrative, and not a unique incident.

brian r said...

I see no reason why it should be illegal for a CCL holder to carry a firearm in a National Park in the state that their permit is issued in. I don't understand the reasoning against doing so. I also agree that leaving a gun in the car at a remote trail head is less responsible than carrying it on your person. If left in the car, it is then readily available to thieves.

Zak Johnson said...

Update: May 12, 2009:

The Senate on Tuesday backed an amendment that would allow people to carry loaded guns in national parks and wildlife refuges . . . Twenty-seven Democrats joined 39 Republicans and one independent in supporting the amendment, which was attached to a bill imposing restrictions on credit card companies. The amendment was approved 67-29."

LOVE the bipartisanship! Here's a link to the story.