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    Boy, the gun clubs passed the word this weekend about my post on outgoing Senator George Allen's last-gasp effort to legalize the carrying of concealed weapons in national parks.
    The flurry of comments against my post and in favor of Allen's bid was impressive. Not quite so impressive were the few comments that questioned my sexuality and maturity because I don't take glee in toting a 10 mm Glock or my ability to think critically.
    Under most of the counterarguments offered, the general thinking seems to be that to protect ourselves we all should be carrying our own gleaming, semi-automatic, or perhaps even automatic, pieces to ensure safety in society. Frankly, folks, I don't see how that's going to accomplish much beyond an increase in the number of shoot-outs.
    And yes, I'm well familiar with the old cliche that if you outlaw guns, only outlaws will own guns. Just the same, is mass arming how you measure 21st century progress?
    There's no doubt that there are some parts of the park system that are increasingly dangerous, be it from the drug operations in Sequoia or the illegal immigration coming through Organ Pipe. And that's why we have growing numbers of law enforcement rangers battling those problems. By and large, though, I don't see the parks as having become so dangerous that we need to revert to a freelance form of posse comitatus.
    And I certainly can't see the law enforcement arm of the National Park Service jumping on this proposal.
     Perhaps if those who believe they should be able to carry their weapons wherever they please focused that same fervor on lobbying Congress to properly fund the National Park Service the parks would become a safer place than they already are.
    That said, it's great to see so many comments on a topic that certainly needs some debate. And I encourage more discourse. Just please try to erase your juvenile insults before you push the "post" button.


I'm the poster who made the comments about illegal immigrants and drug smugglers making Organ Pipe a 'no go' for hikers and the marijuana fields problem in Sequoia. Hikers are in danger in the foothills of that park from drug growers. But rather than railing against the criminality in the parks, rather than excoriating pot smokers and people who hire or otherwise aid and abet illegal immigration, which make the parks dangerous, this website opines against carrying guns in the parks. It's the former making the parks dangerous and contributing to the environmental degradation from human waste, trash and fertilizer runoff, not the latter. I'm no gun owner, don't like guns personally. But I'm not afraid of law abiding people carrying guns to protect themselves. I'm afraid of criminals and the people who help them. The outrage should be directed against them.

P. S. I've been reading this website for only a few months. There have been articles posted on snowmobile noise, ATVs, cell phone towers and other things that may damage the parks or the park visitors experience. But I didn't read here about the pot growing by organized drug gangs at Point Reyes National Seashore that has obliterated the native plant species, in addition to causing other damage to the land and water. It was the largest pot growing bust in a national park in years, if I'm remembering the article correctly. This was reported within the past few months in the San Francisco papers, I believe. Advocates for the parks need to report all sources of damage and danger to the parks, whether it's politically correct or not.

Kath, There are nearly 400 units in the national park system and I am one person with a keyboard who runs this blog when I'm not trying to make a living. In other words, there's no way I could possibly stay atop of every news story in the park system. That said, I long ago posted about pot-growing operations in Sequoia and the serious crime situation in Organ Pipe. I've also posted about poaching and other crimes in the parks, politically correct or not. Please feel free to email me when you see park-related stories in your local paper that you think should be mentioned on these pages. Thanks.

Kurt-- You are getting the standard reaction from the "guns don't kill people; people kill people" crowd. Visitors don't need guns in parks and these places are a lot safer because people are not carrying weapons. Legitimate hunters break down their weapons before transporting them across parks. Senator Allern (soon to be former Senator Allen) could do a lot for parks if he concentrated on some of the real park issues such as staffing shortages and declining maintenance budgets. That would be a very useful way to end his service in the US Senate.

Unfortunately, the majority of people think that smoking pot and by extension growing marijuana aren't serious crimes. There needs to be some sort of public educational spots showing the damage to the parks it causes and linking that directly to those who think that smoking pot is a harmless diversion. "This is your national park on drugs" comes to mind.

Here's the article on the bust in Point Reyes.

Here's an audio documentary about the work it takes to restore a pot plantation after the growers have been busted and the plants removed by law enforcement: This is a big job that has to be done by volunteers, because none of the parks can afford the labor to do it. Back on-topic about guns: I'm still interested in hearing more from the rangers and park staff on this question.

Quote------ Under most of the counterarguments offered, the general thinking seems to be that to protect ourselves we all should be carrying our own gleaming, semi-automatic, or perhaps even automatic, pieces to ensure safety in society. Frankly, folks, I don't see how that's going to accomplish much beyond an increase in the number of shoot-outs. Quote------ Ok, now we're getting somewhere. I do not personally advocate for each and every person to carry a firearm. Not every person is qualified, proficient, comfortable or safe with a firearm. Training can address some of these issues with most people but if you're not comfortable with or around guns, sometimes that cannot be overcome. That's no excuse for projecting that fear on to everyone else. Ask yourself when the last time you read of some permitted citizen committing a crime was. Now, compare with a law enforcement type. Research carefully, you might be surprised at the conclusion. Virginia relaxed the state park weapons ban years ago over the hue and cry of DGIF, including the exaggerated hyperbole predicting "Wild DC shootouts" and "blood in the parks"... None of which came to fruition. In fact, I'd like to see evidence to support that theory in general. So far, I think 38 states have a shall issue permit system, the bulk of which came post '87 (Florida). This has been debated time and again at the state and "specific venue" level, and there's no case I'm aware of in which one of these states or venues can show an increase in "shootouts" or for that matter general violence as a result. You also mentioned not seeing law enforcement "jump on the bandwagon". Frankly, who cares? Do you need permission from Law Enforcement to post to this blog? I couldn't care less what the LE arm of the National Park Service thinks about me or my law abiding friends carrying weapons for personal protection since they're perfectly happy to have a certain level of crime in their parks to help justify their staffing levels. So long as crime exitsts in the Parks, my right to protect myself trumps their opinion on law abiding park visitors carrying personal protection guns. And, in the FWIW column, I haven't heard or seen of their opposition to the proposal either... It's irrelevant either way, since the odds of a Parks LEO being around to protect me when a crime occurs is non existent. Their own morning report confirms this. What it really comes down to is the golden rule - "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." If you choose to not carry a personal protection device of some sort; be it a gun, mace, pepper spray, katana, PR-24, taser, stun gun, what have you... Then the Grace of God be with you. If you opt for one of the above or some other form of protection, Peace be upon you. However, before you make that decision for everyone else, ask just who you are helping by making that decision.

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