Wednesday, January 14, 2009

National Parks gun ban has "worked well"?

Op-ed by Vin Suprynowicz, writing in the Las Vegas Review Journal, on the National Parks carry rule:
On Dec. 31, the daily Miami Herald editorialized:

"The Bush administration last month gave the National Rifle Association a parting gift by lifting a decades-long ban on concealed weapons in national parks. ...

"These harmful new rules could take years to undo," warned the suntanned statists. "Make no mistake, though, they must be taken off the books before they can do too much damage. ...
But what really puzzles me is what on earth these minions of Washington City mean when they say, "The weapons ban has worked well all these years. It has ... kept the level of violence between people to a minimum."

Did going unarmed "work well" for unarmed hikers Mary Cooper, 56, and her daughter, Susanna Stodden, 27, whose bodies were found, shot in the head, alongside the Pinnacle Lake Trail in the Mount Baker/Snoqualmie National Forest, east of Everett, Wash., by a hiker on July 11, 2006?

Technically, since the National Forests are administered differently from the National Parks and Monuments (though the folks at the Herald don't seem to know that), the Seattle mother and daughter could have gone armed in that National Forest, so long as they'd obeyed Washington state law.

Perhaps it would have helped to encourage them, had as much signage as they use to warn about forest fires been devoted to warning hikers "We've only got a handful of rangers to protect an area the size of a small state, here. Your protection is your own job."

(According to Washington Trails magazine, there were only five armed law enforcement rangers working the entire Mount Baker/Snoqualmie National Forest -- a patch of public land larger than the state of Delaware -- when the women died. Was that number adequate to protect public safety? Forest Supervisor Rob Iwamoto told the magazine "No.")

Our parks "today are some of the safest places in the country," the Herald editorialists insist.

Tell that to Barbara Schoener, who in April of 1994 was attacked by an 82-pound female lion ... as she was jogging along a park trail in the Sierra foothills northeast of Sacramento. The lion bit her neck and crushed her skull. Then it dragged the unarmed woman three hundred feet down a hill and ate her face, upper back, lungs, spleen, pancreas, kidneys, stomach, liver and small intestines.

In the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in 2006, one man was stabbed to death by a drunk and, in a separate incident, a woman was shot dead. Also that year, on the Blue Ridge Parkway, a woman parked at an overlook and wearing headphones while studying for final exams "was killed by a handgun by a suspect on a killing spree," the Park Service reports.

How did the ban on carrying self-defense weapons "work well" for them?

Read the whole thing here.

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