Back on September 4, I devoted my column in New West to trying to convince park advocacy groups that fighting this rule wasn’t worth their time and money when they had much bigger fish to fry, such as securing adequate funding for the National Park Service (NPS), various park expansion plans, many serious wildlife issues, curbing the rampant fee increases, and addressing the dramatic decline in park visitation, to name a few.
But paranoia over the rule drowned out my little voice in the wilderness. The ink on the Federal Register publication of the rule had hardly dried before opponents, including the National Parks and Conservation Association and the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees, started making plans to encourage the incoming administration to reverse the rule. A few days later, the New York Times joined the chorus.
The rule won’t change much, so what’s the big deal? People who feel strongly about having their guns for personal safety have been taking them into national parks for decades. Every park ranger knows it, and it has caused minimal if any crime or gun-related accidents. Think about it. Rangers at entrance stations don’t even ask park visitors if they have guns, partly because they don’t care, but mostly because Reagan’s gun rule was impractical, if not impossible, to enforce.
So, when the Bush rule hits the ground next year, the impact will be invisible. All that changes is the status quo becoming the legal status quo, and as far as I’m concerned, it should be legal. Why should taking a loaded, concealed handgun into a national park be any different than taking it into a national forest?
Read the op-ed here.