This has recently been a hot, contested issue put forth by the National Rifle Association. They would like the U.S. Department of Interior, who is in charge of the National Parks through the National Park Service, to amend the current regulation regarding the carrying of weapons onto National Park and Refuge lands from being unloaded, safely stored firearms to now loaded, concealed firearms. The Secretary of the Interior, Mr. Kempthorne, has opened a 60-day public response to this issue. The end date to send a response to the Secretary of the Interior's office is 30 June 2008.
One of the key points in the NRA's argument is the following which was taken from their site at National Rifle Association. The key point is "Law-abiding citizens should not be prohibited from protecting themselves and their families while enjoying America's national parks and wildlife refuges". Now, I'm sorry, but just who are they protecting themselves from? The wildlife? The Park Rangers who are there to protect the visitors? Other law-abiding citizens/visitors? This is simply nothing more than a sub-conscious scare tactic! I do not have a problem with our citizens wishing to have a gun, but I do see fit to restrict where a gun should be allowed. That restriction should be within our National Park system. No one should wonder whether or not someone near them has a concealed weapon, while they are trying to enjoy what our National Parks have to offer.
This restriction cannot be made more apparent other than from The National Parks Conservation Association, which has been in existence since 1919 to help promote the safety and preservation of our park lands. To learn more about them, visit their site at http://www.npca.org . The following information posted on their site at NPCA, Press Releases addresses issues from Park Rangers and even shows support of the current regulation (unloaded, securely stored firearms...) in a 2007 letter to Congressman Rahall, by the National Park Service Director Mary Bomar.
To view the issue at hand and the Executive Order signed in April 2008, please visit the Department of Interior website at DOI, Firearms Regulation . Also, to learn more about the Department of Interior and the bureaus that they are in charge of, visit their site at http://www.doi.gov
If my great-grandfather, E.K. Burlew, former First Assistant Secretary of the Interior, were alive today, I wonder what his feelings would be on this issue. Growing up hearing stories about how he handled things, I can only imagine he would not be pleased that this would even be considered. I know that I'm not.
What have you to say about this? I urge you, no matter which way you feel, to let your voice be heard by clicking on the above provided links, by 30 June 2008. It shall be interesting to see what the outcome holds.