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Thread: Texas Star Telegram Reports on National Park Gun Ban Repeal

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    http://www.star-telegram.com/804/story/1122187.html

    U.S. allows guns in national parks

    By ANNA M. TINSLEY
    atinsley@star-telegram.com


    FORT WORTH — The only place Jack Betz goes without his concealed handgun is his workplace.

    Other than that, he leaves when he sees a sign prohibiting concealed handguns. By the end of this week, national parks will be one more place no longer off-limits for him.

    "We should never have been forbidden to [carry guns there] in the first place," said Betz, 49, a concealed-handgun instructor and pizza deliverer in Fort Worth. "We live in a dangerous world.

    "There are people who live by the creed what is yours is mine and I’ll take it. Others see rape, torture and murder like we do a waiting-room magazine," he said. "This does not stop at the borders of our national parks."

    Starting Friday, holders of concealed-handgun permits can take their loaded guns into national parks because of a federal rule change under the Bush administration.

    The change by the Interior Department overturns a measure put in place in the 1930s, and renewed 25 years ago under President Ronald Reagan, to address growing concerns about poaching in parks. It has sparked debate as supporters laud the change and critics call it unnecessary.

    "This is one more thing the Obama administration will have to clean up," said Marsha McCartney, president of the North Texas Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. "It’s sad that this president decided that was something that needed to be changed.

    "Did he think he was fixing something that was broken? No, it was running just fine."

    Last week, the Brady campaign filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, asking it to strike down the rule.

    Change is coming

    Last month, the Interior Department overturned the rule restricting loaded guns in most national parks, making national-park gun laws coincide with state gun laws.

    Now Texans and others with concealed-handgun permits will no longer have to unload and dismantle their guns when they visit a national park or drive on roads that pass through national parks.

    The rule doesn’t change anything in states where concealed handguns are not allowed — Illinois and Wisconsin — and still doesn’t allow long guns into national parks.

    The Interior Department received thousands of comments about the proposal, most against it, spokeswoman Tina Kreisher said.

    "There are people who disagree and people who are delighted," she said.

    Texas parks

    Texas has 13 sites that the National Park Service calls national parks or historic sites, stretching from Big Bend in West Texas to the Padre Island National Seashore in Corpus Christi.

    At Guadalupe Mountains National Park near El Paso, workers are trying to figure out how to let the nearly 200,000 annual visitors know about the change.

    While visitors with concealed-handgun permits can have loaded weapons at the 86,416-acre park, they cannot take them into federal facilities, including visitor centers, said Fred Armstrong, chief of resource management and visitor services at the park.

    "There are still some  . . . gray areas like that to be worked out," he said. "People other than those with concealed-handgun permits might think they can bring their gun. No. Only if you have a concealed-weapon permit and if you keep that weapon concealed in the park."

    And the rules don’t change — no poaching, vandalism or violence.

    "They may not shoot at wildlife, may not target-practice, may not shoot it for any reason in national parks," Armstrong said.

    At the Fort Davis National Historic Site, workers don’t think concealed handguns will be a big issue.

    Each year, around 50,000 visitors go to the nearly 500-acre West Texas park, said Chuck Hunt, the superintendent.

    "We haven’t heard much talk about the rule change," Hunt said. "We have no plans to put up signs. As time goes by and we work out all the kinks, it will become apparent to each park whether something like [signs] would be appropriate.

    "You don’t want to scare the public."

    Christmas Mountains

    In Texas, the issue of guns in parks has been part of a growing controversy over the Christmas Mountains, a 14.5-square-mile desert range next to Big Bend. State Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, a staunch Second Amendment advocate, has pushed to sell the property to private owners to keep it from falling under the national-park no-gun regulations.

    Despite the new rules, he is worried that President-elect Barack Obama may change the rule once in office. Patterson said he won’t change anything until he sees what happens with the new administration.

    "We have the Department of Interior doing the right thing," Patterson told the Star-Telegram last month. "The question remains: Will the president leave that in place?"

    Concerns

    Raymond Riley, a concealed-handgun-permit instructor in Arlington, said he plans to take his gun whenever he goes to a national park.

    "Being able to carry your firearm for protection anywhere, much less in a national park, would allow us to feel protected in the event there is someone attempting to do harm to you, your loved ones, or someone in your vicinity," he said.

    Mike Stollenwerk — a co-founder of the OpenCarry.org effort to let people carry guns openly — said the rule change is good.

    Stollenwerk, who lives in Virginia and owns a home in Killeen, said he often drives on roads that cross national parks and he visits Great Falls National Park each year. He said he will probably take his gun on those trips after Friday.

    "Why not?" he said. "I and many Americans carry loaded handguns in shopping malls and at government meetings pretty routinely, so why should we be disarmed when going to the woods?"

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    Regular Member Huck's Avatar
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    "We haven’t heard much talk about the rule change," Hunt said. "We have no plans to put up signs. As time goes by and we work out all the kinks, it will become apparent to each park whether something like [signs] would be appropriate.

    "You don’t want to scare the public."
    So let me get this straight... Crime and wild animal attacks, which do happen in National Parks is not scary, but armed, honest people are scary?

    Whatta moron!

    III

    "You can teach 'em, but you cant learn 'em."

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    "Why not?" he said. "I and many Americans carry loaded handguns in shopping malls and at government meetings pretty routinely, so why should we be disarmed when going to the woods?"

    Good illustration & impact with a side by side of these locations here.

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    One fact that needs to start coming out in these articles is that 51 Senators of both parties wrote the Secretary of the Interior in December, 2007, and asked that these concealed handgun regulations be changed for national parks. Only after they wrote the letters did President Bush ask the Interior Department to begin investigating ways to change these laws and put it up for public debate on April 30th, 2008. This is not a President Bush rule change, this is an American rule change.

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    If someone was to "POACH" in a National Park, I think that the preferred weapon would probably be a rifle of small caliber not a sidearm or pistol-the pistol is more for up close and personal protection not for poaching or "HEADLIGHTING". I totally agree with the change and would rather the "BRADY BUNCH" go crawl under a rock and let the National Parks handle this.

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    Arkyhog wrote:
    One fact that needs to start coming out in these articles is that 51 Senators of both parties wrote the Secretary of the Interior in December, 2007, and asked that these concealed handgun regulations be changed for national parks. Only after they wrote the letters did President Bush ask the Interior Department to begin investigating ways to change these laws and put it up for public debate on April 30th, 2008. This is not a President Bush rule change, this is an American rule change.
    Interestingly, in a footnote added to the original article titled "Salazar and the National Park Gun Rule - Will our new Interior Secretary support more guns in national parks?", the author, Bill Schneider, added this:

    Footnote: Even though incoming Interior Secretary Ken Salazar didn’t sign the letter supporting the gun rule, he did sign the amicus brief in DC v Heller, which was also signed by Vice President Dick Cheney, 54 other U.S. Senators and 250 U.S. Representatives. The brief supported Dick Anthony Heller’s case against the restrictive gun regulations in D.C. and the U.S. Supreme Court eventually agreed.

    Click here to read the amicus brief and view the list of signatories:

    I am trying to get an interview with Senator Salazar, so I have not been able to confirm why he apparently was one of the four senators who signed the brief but not the letter.--Bill Schneider

    TFred


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    Over on teh Newwest site the anti-gunners have been whinning about teh predicted poaching of bears with handguns. I pointed out to them that the commonly carried handguns are not sufficient enough to drop a grizzly or large black bear. I explained that balistically the common cal of carried handguns would have a hard time penetrating the large body mass of these beast, deep enough to reach vital organs.

    They suddenly turned the dicussion around siting public health issues concerning guns.

    There have been some pro-gunners over their that have been giving the anti's fits. We've asked several pertinate questions, that if they would answer, would most likely show they true colors. They refuse to answer.

    They have an extremely hard time wrapping their heads around the concept of "DOES NOT WORK", concerning restrictive gun laws.

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