Thursday, February 25, 2010

Dear Washington Senators

To the Honorable Senators Cantwell and Murray,

I would greatly appreciate it if either or both of you would propose, if not sponsor, legistlation to restore the ban on guns in National Parks to the former regulations where all guns must be stored without ammunition in a secure container, and where it is illegal to display or use a gun anywhere in a National Park, especially in the backcountry, except where allowed by permit from the NPS for the protection against wildlife while hiking, such as Alaska.

I ask this even though there are 290 bills passed by the House already waiting for deliberation vote. The lifting of the ban February 22nd endangers every visitor in every National Park where the carrying of a weapon, openly or concealed as defined by the laws of the state where the NP is located, is allowed and even expected. This is an absurb policy and now law.

There is no reason anyone should walk around in a National Park, and mostly visitor areas, with a loaded weapon(s) simply for the purposes of displaying it. It is illegal to use or discharge a weapon in a NP, so it's ridiculus to carry it. The NPS has described how few people were injured or killed in National Parks outside the activities where these activities are common (mountain climbing) where a weapon would have helped.

As a hiker and nature and landscape photographer working on a photography guide to Mount Rainier National Park, the last thing I need to encounter miles into the backcountry is someone with a weapon. I don't look forward to this coming hiking season when I have to now plan for when someone I might encounter has a weapon, whether it's for their own personal protection or wanting to use it.

And the NPS has said in press releases they are training rangers to plan to treat encounters with all visitors as if they have a concealed weapon if they don't see one openly displayed. Is this anyway to greet and treat visitors, many of whom are foreign visitors? Is this the view of America and our National Parks we want them to have?

So, please find a way to reverse this law and reinstate the old regulations as law. It's a fair compromise for everyone. Guns aren't necessary in National Parks except where a permit is available.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

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