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Is the National Park Service Obligated to Better Promote Proposed Change in Gun Regulations?


Does the National Park Service have an obligation -- before the public comment period closes -- to better inform the general public about proposed changes to the existing gun regulations? While those who closely follow national park issues and gun issues more than likely are aware of the proposal to allow park visitors to arm themselves, does the general park-going public?
Those changes[/url], of course, might allow holders of concealed weapons permits to carry their loaded weapons with them while admiring Old Faithful, hiking into the Grand Canyon, or strolling across the Colter Bay campground in search of a cold beer.

That question about alerting the public to the possibility that the park visitor standing next to them might soon be armed was raised this week by the Association of National Park Rangers, the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees, and the U.S. Park Rangers Lodge, Fraternal Order of Police. In a letter to Park Service Director Mary Bomar the groups asked her what "specific steps have you taken or will you take to ensure that National Park System visitors and National Park Service employees will be informed of this proposed change to a regulation that has been in place in some form for 88 years?"

"Will you provide them with the opportunity to know that they have the ability to officially comment on this proposed change?" the letter adds.

Disconcertingly, according to the groups, top Interior Department officials specifically prohibited Park Service employees from commenting on the proposed change in their official capacities. Wouldn't you hope that if such a drastic change were being made to your workplace environment that you'd be able to voice your opinions on it?

"Their professional expertise in managing parks should not be ignored in making this decision, nor should it be hidden from the public as they weigh their individual decision on whether to oppose or support the proposed change," reads the letter.

At the Park Service's Washington, D.C., headquarters, Communications Chief David Barna says the agency went about publicizing the proposed change the same way it publicizes other proposals up for public comment.

The Interior Department "did put out a press release announcing the public comment period and articles have run in over 200 newspapers. That's the process we use for all public comment issues," said Mr. Barna.

Some no doubt would argue that a proposed change of such magnitude and with such potential wide-ranging impacts would merit more publicity during the ongoing 60-day comment period and would gain more visibility if notices explaining the proposal were inserted into park newspapers given to visitors as they enter parks and were placed on park websites.


"or strolling across the Colter Bay campground in search of a cold beer."

Are you kidding me? You just innocently throw in the "cold beer" reference I assume? I am sure it has nothing to do with you trying to paint the mental picture of a beer drinking, irresponsible gun owner to anyone who may wander across this page. Come on least pretend to have some kind of journalistic integrity. The fact is most that carry a gun and have a concealed carry permit are extremely responsible and fanatical about safety. The kind of folks you are trying to lump them in with will carry a gun no matter what the law and most would not waste the time to get a concealed carry permit. So please, before you try to paint all gun owners in the same light, take the time to get to know one so that you can speak from a place of honesty and knowledge rather than ignorance and sterotypes.

Sorry Neil, but I think that's a very realistic possibility.

Even you yourself point out that "most ... are extremely responsible and fanatical." The concern here isn't the behavior of "most" permit holders, it's of those who are more cavalier.

Well, first, you don't even try to deny your slanted viewpoint, good for you. But, you missed the whole point of my post. The folks who take the time and care enough to get a concealed carry permit will not cause a problem. If there are people who walk around acting like idiots (and who happen to carry a gun), then a permit is of no consequence. They are going to do it anyway...permits and park rules be damned. The only time you will even know that the law abiding gun carriers have a gun is when they are put in a life or death situation and are forced to use it. Allowing people with a CC permit in the park will in no way endanger others but will only create an environment where a CC permit holder can possibly save a life should the situation arise. They are not going to be getting drunk and shooting their guns in the air like they are in Tombstone, AZ at the O.K. Corral. That is just a ridiculous picture that your anti-gun brethren like to paint to make your weak case against guns and carry permits.

In the interest of fairness, it should be pointed out that the NRA and every gun shop in the United States is telling folks about the necessity to post comments SUPPORTING the regulation change. IF someone OPPOSES the rule change, they should be told by SOMEONE that they can post a comment if they want to. The OPPOSERS will be in very lonely company though, IMHO.

I'm pretty sure that comments can be posted anonymously.

Neil, I hope you're right.

But across the country there are more than a few gun incidents involving those holding CCW permits.

In 2006 there were 1,950 "weapons offenses" in the national parks; in 2007 that number dipped to 1,495, which still is a staggering number. Unfortunately, the NPS can't say how many of those involved permitted gun owners.

Here's a stat that'll I'll wager you'll dispute, because it comes from the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence: August 2000 study by the Violence Policy Center revealed that, from January 1996 through April 2000, the arrest rate for weapon-related offenses among Texas concealed handgun license holders was 66% higher than that of the general adult population of Texas. CCW license holders are committing crimes - including murder, rape, assault and burglary - but because the gun lobby makes it difficult if not impossible for the public to determine if a shooter has a CCW license in most states, the full story has not yet been told.


I have no doubt the NRA has mounted an enormous campaign. Unfortunately, my guess is that only those folks entering gun shops or holding an NRA membership would learn the details. That leaves an awfully huge population out there.

Wouldn't you suppose that, just as the NRA is an obvious disseminator of the proposal, that the National Park Service would be an obvious candidate for spreading the word as well? And wouldn't the entrance gates to the parks be an obvious place to distribute information?

Absolutely. I don't know WHO would spread the word, but if folks are OPPOSED they should find out somehow. The NRA has over four million active members.

As for CCW permit holders, they are NOT involved in altercations like you mention here. Such action would result in immediate permanent loss of permit. I understand that only only 183 permits have been rescinded. Most (98%) of those were because the holder picked up their child at school while carrying.

NPCA has put out an action alert giving people info on the rule change and how to comment in opposition to the gun regs.

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