USSR Today at it again.....

USSR Today at it again.....

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    USSR Today at it again.....

    USA Today editorial agaigst carry in National parks

    Our view on gun restrictions: Keep parks free of firearms - Opinion -

    Our view on gun restrictions: Keep parks free of firearms
    Effort to change long-standing rules would ‘solve’ non-existent problems.
    Suppose you bring the kids to Grand Teton National Park for a vacation and set out on a hike around Jenny Lake. Halfway around, you encounter an unfriendly hiker carrying a loaded 9mm semiautomatic pistol.

    Still feeling like you're in an oasis of tranquility? Welcome to the national parks as envisioned by the National Rifle Association and its friends in Washington.

    From its inception, the National Park Service has required that guns be unloaded and kept out of sight. This helps park rangers control poaching and makes parks a place of refuge for both people and animals.

    But the NRA has other ideas. It helped persuade half the U.S. Senate to sign a letter to Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne asking for a review of the ban on loaded weapons. The NRA and the senators want national park rules to match the rules in each state. So loaded guns could be carried openly at Grand Teton because that is Wyoming's rule for its state parks.

    This, the NRA argues, would help visitors protect themselves from dangerous people and animals. Kempthorne, who appears to be taking the election-year gambit seriously, is to announce revisions by April 30.

    Instead of listening to the gun lobby, which is also trying to weaken gun restrictions on college campuses and other off-limit domains, Kempthorne should listen to park rangers. Allowing gun-toting visitors into the parks, says the rangers' association, would cause more problems than it would cure.

    Crime is a minor problem in national parks. In 2006, when the national parks drew 273 million visitors, there were 11 homicides. By contrast, Washington, D.C., with a population of about 600,000, had 181 homicides in 2007.

    As for animal attacks, those are very rare, say the rangers, and in fact mace and bear spray are more effective against bears. Of more concern are poachers who raid the parks, particularly because bear parts are valuable on international markets. Looser gun rules would make them harder to catch.

    Additionally, visitors unaccustomed to wildlife can misread an animal's intentions. An elk that snorts and paws isn't necessarily getting ready to charge, and a bear that rises on its hind legs is more likely to be improving its view than preparing to attack. But some armed visitors may not take a chance, endangering both animals and other visitors.

    That very scenario played out at the Lodgepole Campground in California's Sequoia National Park when Doug Morris was chief ranger. A camper needlessly shot a bear, which then charged dangerously around the campground before settling down to die in front of a horrified family. The camper was cited for both having a loaded gun and killing wildlife, Morris said.

    Contrary to what the NRA claims, changes are unlikely to make rules less confusing. How many Georgians know Montana's rules on allowing weapons in state parks? And what about parks that straddle state lines?

    The National Rifle Association has every right to promote its vision of a society where practically everyone can carry guns anywhere. That doesn't mean the government has to listen.

    Posted at 12:21 AM/ET, March 03, 2008 in Environment - Editorial, Gun Control - Editorial, Politics, Government - Editorial, USA TODAY editorial | Permalink

    And a rebutal from Wayne LaPierre....

    Give gun owners uniformity - Opinion -

    Give gun owners uniformity
    Park visitors need protection from human, animal threats.

    By Wayne LaPierre

    Why does USA TODAY object to uniform laws?

    The rules of safe driving don't change when you travel from a state highway onto a federal one. Why should rules for gun owners change when they travel from a state park to a federal park or wildlife refuge?

    As it is, gun owners who enjoy going afield in our parks face a confusing nationwide patchwork of rules and regulations, governed by different agencies and bureaucracies. It's inconsistent, burdensome and unnecessary. More than half the Senate agrees.

    So the administration's new proposal would simply provide uniformity. Federal parks and wildlife refuges would mirror state firearm laws for state parks. Besides, there's plenty of wild in the wilderness — both animal and human — that can endanger law-abiding hikers, anglers, campers and birdwatchers.

    The National Park Service has no legal obligation to protect you. Why should it have legal authority to prevent you from protecting yourself?

    Federal park firearm regulations are outdated. They don't reflect changes in state laws over the past 25 years with respect to carrying firearms.

    Today, 48 states have systems to issue permits to law-abiding citizens to carry firearms for protection. Most states allow citizens to carry firearms in state parks. Federal parks should follow suit.

    Why should you forfeit your rights when you step from a state park into a national park? You shouldn't. That's why this simple modernization is so urgently needed.

    Under this proposal, if a state allowed visitors to carry firearms at its state parks, visitors to federal parks within that state would enjoy the same freedom. If a state didn't allow visitors to carry firearms at state parks, the same would apply on federal parks within that state.

    It's far past time to overhaul the jumble of firearm regulations on federal lands, and to restore the rights of law-abiding gun owners who wish to carry firearms for lawful purposes. Better yet, this proposal follows the lead of state law, proving its goal is to reflect the will of the people — not editorial boards.

    Wayne LaPierre is executive vice president of the National Rifle Association.

    Posted at 12:20 AM/ET, March 03, 2008 in Environment - Editorial, Gun Control - Editorial, Politics, Government - Editorial, USA TODAY editorial | Permalink
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