Rule Will Take Years To Reverse: The Interior Department revised a Reagan-era regulation Friday that now allows persons to carry concealed firearms in some national parks and wildlife refuges. It is a dumb rule observed from personal experience which will be described later. According to the Associated Press, the rule allows an individual to carry a loaded weapon in a park or wildlife refuge — but only if the person has a permit for a concealed weapon, and if the state where the park or refuge is located also allows loaded firearms in parks. The previous regulations enacted by the Reagan administration required that firearms be unloaded and placed somewhere that is not easily accessible, such as in a car trunk. The National Rifle Association hailed the rule change. "We are pleased that the Interior Department recognizes the right of law-abiding citizens to protect themselves and their families while enjoying America's national parks and wildlife refuges," said Chris W. Cox, the NRA's chief lobbyist. Bill Wade, president of the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees, said: "This regulation will put visitors, employees and precious resources of the National Park System at risk. We will do everything possible to overturn it and return to a common sense approach to guns in national parks that has been working for decades." The park rule will be published in the Federal Register next week and take effect 30 days later, well before President-elect Barack Obama takes office Jan. 20. Overturning the rule could take months or even years, since it would require the new administration to restart the lengthy rule-making process.
No Rule For Drunks: I travelled in a motorhome throughout the northern states in 1990-91 spending numerous nights camped in state and national parks. I carried a .22-caliber rifle stored in an upper cabinet. Only once did I observe the old rule enforced by park rangers. Teenagers lining up beer bottles for target practice firing pistols was a common event. The holidays of July 4th, Memorial Day and Labor Day were the worst and most dangerous. Drunken adults would fire pistol shots in the air, at squirrels and deer. On July 4th, 1990, at a state park near Jamestown, North Dakota, the husbands of two couples travelling together argued over some senseless issue. One grabbed his pistol and fired it near the foot of the other. I tried to be peacemaker and asked the gun-toting drunk to put down his pistol. Instead, he aimed it at my chest. I backed off just as park rangers who heard the early shot came to the rescue. The NRA can say what it wants. Putting guns in the hands of teenagers and drunken adults is a recipe for disaster even if it occurs in an open wilderness environment.