Sunday, May 24, 2009

Guns Allowed in National Parks

The New York Times published an article written by several people with differing viewpoints on the recent legislation . The law passed by Congress this week to reform credit cards, of all things, now allows gun owners with state permits to carry guns in public to take their loaded handguns and other firearms into the parks. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) sponsored the concealed weapons bill by attaching it as an amendment to the Credit Card reform bill of Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.).

Ted Kerasote, author, avid hunter and resident of Grand Teton National Park says the bill will increase poaching.

Ever since Yellowstone, the world’s first national park, was created in 1872, parks and wildlife refuges have been the de facto hunting grounds of armed people tempted by animals who have lost their wariness. Living within Grand Teton National Park, I see this all the time: a deer gunned down by the side of the road, its antlers chopped off; a moose waylaid just inside the park boundary; a coyote shot as it watches a car go by. These killings are perennial, often remove spectacular, genetically fit individuals, and create one more enforcement burden for park rangers.

Allowing visitors to carry loaded firearms in national parks and wildlife refuges, as legislation just passed by Congress does, will only make such poaching worse while making a ranger’s job more risky.

The reason it will make the Park Rangers' job more difficult was well summed up by Paula Dinerstein, senior counsel for Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility.

Currently, a ranger can in effect assume that a loaded weapon will be used for poaching and prevent its use, without having to catch someone in the act in a remote place.

John R. Lott Jr., senior research scientist at the University of Maryland and the author of “More Guns, Less Crime” and “The Bias Against Guns,” highlighted the success of concealed carry laws in general and in the State of Florida in particular.

Here is a prediction. Just like the ruckus over passing concealed handgun laws, the fears about guns in national parks will soon be forgotten.

Given the size of the National Parks and the relatively low population density, even in tourist season, this legislation is unlikely to have much impact on crime one way or another. So, Prof. Lott's prediction is probably a good one, at least in part. I'd say concealed carry laws may very well continue to be a topic of discussion long after the National parks issue is forgotten.

What's your opinion? Is this "much ado about nothing?" Why did Sen. Coburn introduce the amendment the way he did, by attaching it to another unrelated piece of legislation? Isn't that the way the Tiarht Amendments were done? Is there some advantage in doing it that way? This method doesn't seem to avoid the spotlight, but does it facilitate passage in some way?

Is this another victory for the gun lobby? Do you think they could be successfully accomplishing exactly what they fear from the anti-gun folks, a gradual and incremental movement towards their ultimate goal? What do you think that goal is?

I'm afraid the overall direction is a deceptively dangerous one for America. Pro gun folks want more guns and less restrictions, on college campuses, in churches, in national parks, everywhere. Often these changes are extremely controversial, actually going against the wishes of those most directly involved, most of the students in colleges, most of the pastors in churches and most of the Park Rangers in national parks. Yet, the gun crowd keeps getting its way.

As the restrictions are lessened, more guns need to be produced. Record sales have been reported over the last year. Huge increased in the total number of guns will inevitably result in proportionally huge increases in gun flow into criminal hands. As this increases, law enforcement won't be able to keep up with the increases in gun violence. That's my prediction.

Professor Lott and his fellow gun lovers always seem to disassociate themselves from the misuse of guns, they are after all, law abiding citizens. Unfortunately, such a disassociation is impossible. As we have seen, almost all guns in America which are in the hands of criminals today started out as legitimately owned firearms. Gun flow is inexorable and whether the pro gun crowd want to admit it or not, they are involved. It all starts with them. It is an unavoidable result of the policies they fight for.

What's your opinion?


  1. Has there been a problem with similar activity in national forests, that don't have the restrictions of national parks?

    This originally came up at the end of teh Bush administration as a rule change by the agency in charge of national parks, rather than a law. (It had been in the works for at least a year prior) The original version would allow only concealed handguns, and only for people with a license valid in that state--no provision for open carry, and no allowance for states that don't require a license. The Obama administration had the rule rejected because there wasn't an environmental impact study done.

    This law is a direct result of that rejection. Had the original version been allowed, weapons suitable for poaching would have remained restricted. In the unlikely event that poaching increases, it is a direct result of the Obama administration refusing to accept reasonable restrictions, insisting on maximum restrictions instead.

  2. Like I said, MikeB, you and the truth are not even on speaking terms.

    No firearms in my possession have been used/stolen by criminals. As such, "gun flow" to the criminals of America did not start with me, as such your blanket statement/stereotype that "it starts with them" is demonstrably false (after all, if you had paid attention in school, you would remember that if something is false once, it is, as a whole, false).

    Come up with a new lie already - blaming law-abiding citizen for the actions of criminals is not only erroneous, it is intellectually dishonest, and indicative of how weak your arguments as a whole are.

  3. I've noticed that all of the pro gun commenters here make great pains to tell how they abide by the law and because of that, Mikes argumants are lies because they are somehow representational of the armed population of America.
    Well, Bravo. You don't hold up 7/11s and take potshots at street signs.

    It still doesn't come near to negating the point that fear is the biggest ploy in gun sales.
    Fear is the biggest marketing tool.
    You need guns to protect your family from all of the fiends who are illegally buying guns.
    That seems to be a the circular argumant here. Gun Sales, illegal or illegal create a huge market and as we have seen in the recent banking and investment market disaster, you cannot expect a multi billion dollar industry to police itself.
    You need a gun to protect yourself from the foul fiends who have bought illegal guns to commit foul acts against your family....

    Who's the real winner here?

  4. Well the fact that we HAVEN'T seen this 'huge increase' even though firearm laws have become less restrictive nor from the increase in ownership kind of speaks for itself.

    Of course Microdot takes that false stance that the only criminal one needs to defend yourself against is one w/ a gun. I guess he's never read the FBI numbers that only about 10% of violent crimes are committed w/ firearms.

  5. Microdot,

    Fear is the biggest marketing tool.Isn't that what the gun banners market? "We have to ban guns or you will be shot down in your bed, in your school, in your church"?

    Sorry, but neither side is free of the fear game. The Pro-freedom side has historical facts and evidence on its side to support the statements about registration, confiscation, etc.

    We have places in America TODAY that deny people their basic right to keep and bear arms. That isn't fear, that is FACT.

    Gun Sales, illegal or illegal create a huge market and as we have seen in the recent banking and investment market disaster, you cannot expect a multi billion dollar industry to police itself.Hey, if you have evidence of wrong doing, take it to the cops, to the ATF, etc. They would be interested in seeing it and acting. Otherwise you are smearing innocent people.

    There are laws, already in force, that govern how the industry can operate. Those laws are obeyed by the manufacturers, the distributors and the vast bulk of the retail operations.

    IT is the CRIMINALS, that are breaking the law. Buying guns for people they shouldn't, stealing guns, etc.

    But instead of focusing on criminals and criminal activities, people like you want to focus on depriving innocent people of their rights.

    Will you give up your right to free speech Microdot because someone else has used it to defraud another person?

    That is what you are asking us to do with the right to keep and bear arms. No thanks

  6. "everyone is responsible for his own actions."

    Except when it comes to firearm owners. Then they're responsible for the actions of everyone.

  7. Thirdpower said, ""everyone is responsible for his own actions."

    Except when it comes to firearm owners. Then they're responsible for the actions of everyone."
    No, not the actions of everyone. But, if you fight hard for policies that have a certain amount of collateral damage, let's say, you are responsible for that.

    Wouldn't you want to be? It doesn't seem consistent with your general attitude to try and shirk something like that.

  8. I want to be responsible for the actions of criminals? No MikeB. I don't. I think criminals should be in jail. I'm sorry if you don't.

    You also have yet to show any evidence (besides from paid anti-gun advocates) that the policies I support have any negative 'collateral damage'.

  9. There is no shirking involved, MikeB, despite your erroneous and specious claims to the contrary.

    The simple fact is that if someone decides to do something illegal, I am not responsible for it. If I decide to do something illegal, I am responsible for it.

    And never the twain shall meet.

    Grown, adult humans are responsible for their own actions, and no one else's (barring situations of military chains of command or something similar). Your inherently flawed and fallacious attempt to pin law-abiding firearm owners with supposed and made-up responsibility for criminals is laughable, at best, and outright disgusting at worst.

    Do try and find another fallacy to run with... at least one that is not so easy to shoot down.

  10. Linoge and Thirdpower, I don't know how I can say it any clearer. You still seem to be missing my point.

    A. A certain policy results in problems. 90% of it works well but the 10% is messy, like collateral damage.

    B. You support that policy.

    C. You must assume some of the responsibility for those problems.

    If the policy is really good and important, you would be glad to assume that responsibility. But the fact that you so vehemently disassociate yourselves from the problems, means something's wrong. If you said, "you're right and so what. So what if people get hurt, tough luck for them. That's part of the price we have to pay." I could accept that. I'd call you cold-hearted, but at least I'd see it as logical. But all you say is "that has nothing to do with me. I'm a good guy, those are all criminals you're talking about and they have nothing to do with me." That I don't accept.

  11. "A certain policy results in problems."

    That is an assumption you can't support.

    I know exactly what you're saying. You say you believe that gun ownership causes problems so all gun owners should be held responsible.

    I say criminals cause problems and that they alone should be held accountable for their actions.

    But you don't really want personal accountability.

  12. Apparently I have not been making myself clear enough, and I apologize for that.

    I perfectly understand what you are saying, MikeB, and I reject it in its entirety due to its irrational, illogical, and inconsistent-with-reality nature.

    All of that "collateral damage" you are so fond of referring to is the result of individual people, acting on their own recognizance. As such, those people, and those people alone are responsible for the "collateral damage", just as all people are responsible for their own actions, and no one else's.

    Once again, you are exhibiting the standard symptoms of the projectionist attutide one finds so very prevalent in the hoplophobic side of the fence. The problems are not the "policies", just like the problems are not the guns - in both cases, the real, root problems are the criminals. The problems are people (who are responsible for their own actions) who decide to break the law and infringe on other people's lives and properties. And despite your patently fallacious protestations to the contrary, I am not responsible for criminals' actions. Period. Full stop. End of debate.

    Furthermore, as Thirdpower has already indicated, you have absolutely no proof to back your assumption. It is already illegal to murder another person, it is already illegal to rob another person, it is already illegal to steal from another person, it is already illegal for felons to possess firearms, it is already illegal to use firearms in the execution of a crime, it is already illegal to unlawfully shoot another person, etc. etc. etc. So which policies, exactly, do we support that are so very empowering to criminals, if the actions of criminals are already illegal (which they are)? Furthermore, how would not supporting those policies help the situation, if the actions of criminals are already illegal (which they are)?

    In the end, though, none of that honestly matters. I could advocate for no restrictions on the purchase of firearms, at all, and if a criminal used that lack of restrictions to purchase a firearm, then used that firearm to rob and murder another person, I would not be responsible for that innocent person's robbery or murder. The criminal chose to rob someone. The criminal chose to murder someone. And by making those individual choices, he took full and absolute responsibility for those choices, and the consequences they wrought. The firearm did not make him rob or murder someone. Not restricting that firearm did not make him rob or murder someone. My supporting a lack of restrictions on firearms did not make him rob or murder someone. And no matter how you try and phrase your argument, I will never be responsible for the conscious actions of another adult human being (again, barring a military-style chain-of-command or something similar).

    The only one being inconsistent and illogical here is you, MikeB. You need to spend some quality time curled up on a couch somewhere with a dictionary and encyclopedia, and actually start to understand the words you are so flagrantly and erroneously using. You might as well be arguing that I am responsible for all the deaths caused by drunk drivers, given that I support the ability of anyone over the age of 21 to buy and consume alcohol, and the ability of anyone over the age of 16 to operate a motor vehicle. Nevermind that drunk driving is illegal, nevermind that drunk driving is the end result of a series of choices made by someone else - by your "logic" (or lack thereof), if I support those policies, I must be responsible for the deaths caused by drunk drivers. *bzzzzt* Wrong.

    Sorry, MikeB, but the world just does not work that way. Try again.

  13. Linoge, More clarity than that, and I don't know what I'd do.

    Let me ask you this. It seems that many of you guys cannot accept that someone disagrees with you. For them, the discussion must lead to their winning the argument and being declared "right." Failing that some resort to insults and name calling before going away. Others just quietly go away.

    I'm not like that, I'm grateful to say. I honestly enjoy the discussion in and of itself. If I convinced one of you guys to change sides, I'd first of all be shocked, but then I'd consider it gravy. It would be the cherry on the cake, the cake being the discussion.

    Most of you, on the other hand seem to demand total capitulation, or else. Are you like that?

    Then, there's the question of the lurkers and the fence-sitters. In this regard, I feel I have the better thing going on, yet, I've heard the very same thing from some of you. That's the nature of civilly disagreeing. That's the very essence of this kind of interminable discussion.

    What do you think?