On January 9, 2009, the National Park Service was tasked to live by the same rules that the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service and the rest of the nation use. On January 10, 2009, the earth rotated. The sun rose. The Constitution still worked. Law-abiding citizens were still, well, law-abiding. Apparently, we all survived.
Starting in the 1980s, a significant number of states passed laws which allowed law-abiding citizens to carry concealed firearms. Most federal land agencies acknowledged these rights and respected the 2nd Amendment. But the National Park Service (NPS) failed to keep pace with these developments and for years banned firearms on NPS land -- in clear violation of the 2nd Amendment. This occurred despite an executive order by President Clinton that reinforced the long-held understanding that federal regulations should be implemented in a manner that respects “state prerogatives and authority.” The Interior Department has finally responded with new regulations that, as of last week, now allow law-abiding Americans the same rights inside our national parks as they have outside the national parks.
As the Ranking Republican member on the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands and the first member in Congress to begin offering amendments to lift the ban on firearms, I agree that the Interior Department change is good, logical and needed. A few have who object to this rule have inaccurately analyzed data so I also feel duty-bound to refute a few silly criticisms of the new regulations.
First, some erroneously contend that “allowing guns will bring violence and upset the tranquility” of the parks. Good grief! The Park Service claims that according to their data “only” 9 people were murdered and 49 people were raped on Park Service lands in 2007; however, NPS numbers may vastly under-represent the number of crimes on Park Service lands. The NPS excludes from their reports crimes handled by other agencies such as the FBI, DEA and state law enforcement. The Park Service has no clue how many crimes actually occur on their lands. Even if the Park Service claims about the numbers of crimes committed in national parks is correct, it is of little comfort to the 9 people murdered and 49 people raped.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein recently blasted (no pun intended) this new respect of legal concealed weapons by saying it will create a “dangerous environment.” I happen to believe that law abiding Americans with concealed weapons permits aren’t too different from Sen. Feinstein when she received her concealed weapons permit in the 1970s and carried a .38 for her safety.
At least now she won’t be arrested for inadvertently walking on land administered by one branch of the federal government rather than land administered by a different branch of the federal government.
Read the op-ed here. Kudos to Rep. Bishop for his support for this sensible (and long overdue) rule change. For those who haven't visited Mr. Bishop's home state of Utah, with its beautiful national parks -- Zion, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Bryce Canyon, Arches -- I would definitely recommend a visit.
[Hat Tip to reader Jason for the link]