Monday, April 7, 2008

No Guns please

There is a recent movement by the National Rifle Association (NRA) through some Senators in Congress to subject the National Parks to local and state gun laws, meaning each National Park would have to abide by the local and state laws granting permission to openly carry loaded firearms in the Park. Currently all firearms can only be transported in or through a Park if stored in a secure and unloaded manner. Only Park law enforcement rangers can carry and use firearms in a Park.

You can get the complete background and details on this issue from the National Park Conservation Association (NPCA) Keep Parks Safe Web page with a recent update. In addition seven past National Park Service (NPS) Directors have sent a letter (PDF) to current Director Kempthorne urging the continuation of the existing policy of a national gun ban in Parks.

I wrote my opinion on this matter, which is that I don't want to have to worry when I'm travelling, hiking and photographing in Mt. Rainier NP if someone else I meet on the road or trail is carrying a weapon. And in the backcountry someone with a firearm is more than likely not carrying the weapon for personal protection but to get in there to practice or something worse.

With the millions of people who visit Mt. Rainier, it's unreasonable to allow a few people who want to carrry, and maybe use, a firearm in Mt. Rainier NP and subject all the rest of us to the possibility of being fearful in a safe place. This claim for the freedom to carry a firearm isn't worth it, and if anyone wants the freedom, it's fair to demand them leave it at home so everyone can enjoy Mt. Rainier NP in safety.

Even the current Directors of the National Park Service and Fish and Wildlife Service agrees with the current policy, which they jointly sent in a letter (PDF) to the respective Congressional committee heads. So it is clearly political pressure by the NRA to subject the public at large to their narrow view of the world where firearms are permissible despite the risks to everyone else.

I hope members of Congress wise up and see this as what it is and deny the change to protect our National Parks and the public. We don't need guns in National Parks and I don't want to see them in Mt. Rainer NP.

No comments: