Park Rangers Oppose Bid to Ease Gun Ban
WASHINGTON (AP) — "Park rangers, retirees and conservation groups are protesting a plan by the Interior Department to reconsider regulations restricting loaded guns in national parks.
The groups say current regulations requiring that visitors to national parks render their weapons inaccessible were working and have made national parks among the safest places in America.
"Loaded guns are not needed and are not appropriate in our national parks," said Doug Morris, a retired park superintendent and member of the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees.
The plan to reconsider the gun regulations "could break what is not broken and change the nature of our national parks," Morris said Monday.
Morris spoke at a news conference called in response to an announcement Friday that the Interior Department will review gun laws on lands administered by the National Park Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service. The department will draw up new rules by April 30 for public comment, Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne said in a letter to 50 senators who requested the review.
The National Rifle Association and other gun-rights advocates hailed the announcement as the first step to relax a decades-old ban on bringing loaded firearms into national parks.
"Law-abiding citizens should not be prohibited from protecting themselves and their families while enjoying America's national parks and wildlife refuges," said Chris W. Cox, the NRA's chief lobbyist.
A Kempthorne spokesman emphasized the review was in its early stages, but said it made sense to update regulations that were last changed in the early 1980s.
"It's appropriate to look at updating these regulations, to bring them into conformity with state laws" on guns use, said Chris Paolino, an Interior Department spokesman.
Conservation groups and park rangers disagreed, saying the plan amounted to surrender to the NRA.
The gun ban "has not been a major issue at national parks in recent years," said Bryan Faehner of the National Parks Conservation Association, an advocacy group.
The restrictions, which require that guns be unloaded and placed somewhere that is not easily accessible, such as in a car trunk, "were reasonable then and are reasonable now," Faehner said. "This is not about guns. It's not about parks. It's a hardball political issue injected by the NRA in an election year," he said."
So then, YOUR sidearm is unloaded and placed somewhere that is not easily accessible, Mr. Faehner? And weapons belonging to those Rangers, as well?
Why in the name of all that is holy do people with a tin star suddenly believe themselves to be the only ones deserving of Constitutional rights?
It isn't as if they're saying you can't smoke, or should dress properly, no, they are infringing upon the single most important right in all of nature. The ability to defend oneself.
This is why I could never in a million years run for anything resembling a high office.
I'd be asking for the resignation of ANY civil servant who had enough of a yellow streak to demand that the public be disarmed.