Sunday, February 21, 2010

Honey, Don't Forget to Pack my Uzi with the PBJ's


Tomorrow, a new law on guns in national parks takes effect. Congress passed and President Obama signed a bill allowing people to carry loaded, concealed weapons in national parks for "self-defense."

What were they thinking?

This travesty represents a huge victory for the National Rifle Association. Since 1871, the NRA has been America’s oldest sportsman’s group. Four million members strong, the NRA continues its mission to uphold Second Amendment rights and to advocate enforcement of existing laws against violent offenders to reduce crime. The Association remains the nation’s leader in firearm education and training for law-abiding gun owners, law enforcement and the military, for which they cannot be faulted even by folks like me who fear guns and would never own one.

But when gun advocates portray themselves as victims of so-called “bigotry” by those who disagree with them, they are way off target. Some have likened their position to African-Americans in the Civil Rights movement, which carried to its logical extreme states that ones status as a gun advocate is an immutable characteristic like skin color and that gun usage is comparable to race or sexual orientation.

They must be high.

In their bizarre world view, anyone who fails to endorse the effects of their gun advocacy, such as forcing families to accept semi-automatic pistols or assault weapons in Yellowstone, is the same as those who infamously refused service to black students at a Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro, NC, in 1960.

It's appalling that the NRA has managed to convince a majority of legislators that allowing civilians to carry loaded, concealed weapons in national parks and wildlife preserves won't inevitably lead to more impulsive shooting of animals as well as "accidents" in which humans are maimed or killed. Their despicable argument that not allowing this constitutes bigotry is simply insane. People are born into a particular race, but none of them exits the birth canal toting a gun.

Guns are dangerous. They are tools designed to kill, and in this country they fulfill their function 30,000 times each year, while injuring another 80,000 people. I fail to understand how this is a civil rights issue, and no amount of NRA-speak will convince me that it is anything but a public safety issue.

Lest I be misunderstood, I do not hate people who own guns. But I do hate and deplore the fact that they will now be allowed to carry them into the last bastions of unspoiled land, our national parks, the very places most people go to enjoy the natural beauty of our country and escape the stresses of city life. While I believe that most gun owners are reasonably responsible, I worry about the few who are not, the dangerous, unstable ones who want to play GI Joe in the woods.

We really don't need to worry about foreign terrorists killing American citizens when we have people right here at home with a frontier mentality, and the weapons to act on it. Expect increasing shoot-outs among the laughing children, wildlife photographers and picnic frolickers as people who shouldn't have guns "defend" themselves against others who also should not. I find this vastly troubling, and you should, too.

28 comments:

HaS the Turtle said...

i agree its dangerous...but guns dont kill other people...no ma'am its the dumb m**********s with 'em

furiousBall said...

not a gun owner and really don't think that they can make a test to weed out the dumb m**********s from the really dumb m**********s

The Fool said...

I'm not sure what to say about this. In Alaska, 54 million acres is "national park". Roughly 65 percent of the state’s land is designated as such. We have some serious dangers in our wilderness, and I have most always carried a gun when in the woods. In one sense, the new law is a concern to me, as I have met my share of irresponsible gun owners. On the other hand, it is good not to be a criminal any longer. Sorry, but this allowance makes sense in my backyard.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Hassan,

Exactly. Which is why those innocent weapons should not be in the dumb m***********s' hands, and why they don't belong in recreation areas.

Van,

Thank you!

John,

Alaska is a special case.
Definitely. And you are undoubtedly one of the responsible gun owners. I am not worried about John in Alaska. I am worried about all the nutjobs in the lower 48 who will take this as license to kill in secluded areas where they won't be detected.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

I can tell you that squirrels aren't happy about concealed and even unconcealed weapons. Bullets vs hand thrown nuts ....no competition.

The Fool said...

One relatively sane outlaw, or a myriad of legal nutjobs...hmmm. I guess it's a no brainer. I can handle being an outlaw. I'm with you.

C said...

i SO agree with you. i hate guns. i wish there were none for the private citizen... unless warrented by where they live, for bears and other dangerous animals...

violence is so fucking out of control these days... yeah, hokay now let's just add to it.

c

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Calvin,

To say nothing of the nuts who will use legality as an excuse to commit mayhem.

John,

It should be legal for those who legitimately need to protect themselves from real dangers to carry, but remain illegal for most civilians. Unfortunately, it's impossible to devise a method for separating one from the other.

C,

How can they be so short-sighted? It's sad that a few crazies give sane, responsible and honorable gun owners a bad name, but a society is only as strong as its weakest link.

nick said...

Extraordinary that Obama has agreed to extend the right to carry guns. Indeed, what were they thinking?

The national enthusiasm for gun-toting in the States baffles me. It can only lead to more deaths and injuries than in a more prohibitive society,as you can easily see if you compare the stats for the UK and the USA.

I'm sure you're right that sooner or later there will be bloody shoot-outs in national parks which need never have happened.

secret agent woman said...

We really seem to be going in the wrong direction with relaxing gun control laws. And why would any legitimate person need a concealed weapon in the first place?

Jo said...

My question is -- why did Obama have to sign it? Did he have a choice? And why do people need to carry loaded, concealed weapons in national parks for "self-defense?" Against what? Other folks with loaded, concealed weapons, I suppose.

Remind me never to visit a national park in the U.S.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Nick,

The US is rapidly reverting to its Wild West roots, which I would never have envisioned. We are doing so at the same time that the economy is causing massive layoffs of law enforcement officers. This is a blood bath waiting to happen.

Agent,

I agree. Why carry a concealed weapon unless you are up to no good?

Jo,

I wondered, too, why he signed it. Was it some kind of trade-off? Obama is not a cowboy - I simply don't understand it.

I've never been to Yellowstone or the Grand Tetons and would like to see them without worrying about being caught in crossfire. I've been researching national parks in Canada.

Bob said...

There is a (or several) nutjob(s) here in Georgia trying yet again to make it legal to take a weapon to the airport in your car. Current federal law prevents it.

He complains that it is a burden on the citizen to have to take their weapons out of their car when they are going to the airport.

I personally think this guy wants to try to force a supreme court case. The NRA and all other weapons advocates have been emboldened by the supreme court's recent ruling that made the right to bear arms a personal right (like the right to free speech and to privacy). Throughout the last 230+ years it has been seen as tied to the state's responsibility to raise an army and not necessarily a personal right.

What really gets me is that the conservative supreme court justices that were recently added (Roberts, Alito, etc) were all apposed to "activist judges making law from the bench" and were all about upholding precedent and yet have had no problems in reinterpreting the constitution. (The recent overturning of the campaign finance laws, the basis of which goes back over 100 years).

Now that we have the individual/personal right to bear arms it will be that much more difficult to ban firearms for whatever reason.

the walking man said...

*sigh* Going into a National Park used to, for me, be a way to get away from Detroit for awhile. Everyone packing a piece doesn't bather me, been living with that for decades. I just don't see any desire to leave home to go home if you get my drift.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Bob,

As I understand it, the Supreme Court is not supposed to make law, but to interpret existing precedents and apply them to current circumstances.

Ya gotta feel for a poor slob who feels inconvenienced by having to remove his firearms from his pickup truck rack to go to the airport. That's right up there with the open container non-laws in some states.

Mark,

Yeah, now there will be a little bit of Detroit in the wilderness. Nice scenery, but otherwise, might as well stay home. Remember, home is where the guns are. Oh, wait. The guns are everywhere. They have become citizens of the world. I really hate this.

mrwriteon said...

So truly bizarre and sad. I don't want to think about the sort of people who will want to pack heat in Yogi Bear country. On the other hand, can I still pack my longgun into Jellystone Park, or will it have to be an Uzi?

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Ian,

I'm guessing the choice of firearm in my country's parks is up to you. Isn't there some biblical injunction to go forth and kill people?

God help us all.

Laura Lee said...

I don't beLEEEEVE it!! well, there goes the neighborhood...
Although, in Arizona it is legal for people to carry concealed and unconcealed weapons just as citizens. Stores can post no-weapons-allowed signs that are strictly enforced, but otherwise it IS very Wild West to watch average Joes sporting loaded holsters, or see a band of motorcycle riders tootling down hwy 40 with guns strapped to their backs.
Kinda makes ya think gee, anything can happen...

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Laura Lee,

I really don't want to get used to seeing people with assault weapons in stores and on sidewalks. It's especially dangerous when so many are stressed by the economy and other circumstances and have shorter tempers than usual. When anything can happen, it usually does.

steadyjohn said...

I recommend to readers of this blog some comments by economist and author John Lott posted here on Feb 22. Lott writes:

"(The law)passed the Congress with about 2-to-1 majorities in both the House and Senate. If a state allows people to carry permitted concealed handguns, permit holders can carry their guns in the national parks in that state."

The incidence of gun law violations by permit holders is extremely low. Lott again:

"Take Florida, for example. Between Oct. 1, 1987, and January 31, 2010, Florida issued permits to 1,704,624 people, many of whom renewed their permits multiple times. Only 167 had their permits revoked for a firearms-related violation — about 0.01 percent." (emphasis added)

And further:

"Even though the adoption of right-to-carry laws was highly controversial in some states, the laws were so successful that no state has ever rescinded one. Indeed, no state has even held a legislative hearing to consider rescinding concealed-carry".(emphasis added)

I am not a gun owner but I fully support the right of lawful state permit holders to carry anywhere within their respective states. The vast majority of gun violence is caused not by responsible permitees but by criminals with illegal weapons.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

John,

Thank you for linking to Lott's comments, which I had not read. The statistics he quotes are largely comforting, and I agree with your assessment that most gun violence is committed by criminals with illegal weapons, not those with permits.

But one thing Lott says does concern me: "Police are extremely important in deterring crime — according to my research, the most important factor. But the police almost always arrive after the crime has been committed. In national parks, with vast land areas and few roads, this problem is exacerbated. Even if one can quickly reach park rangers by using a cell phone, it can be hours before they can arrive at the crime scene."

While this is unquestionably true, it also seems to encourage and even justify vigilantism among citizens who are not law enforcement officers.

Truly, there seems to be no really good solution to the problem as there will always be outlaws, and while I absolutely agree that innocent people should be able to defend themselves, I still think arming them in large numbers is a dangerous crap shoot. The real solutions, albeit much more long-term ones, probably lie in educating people to be decent citizens long before they are of age to carry guns. But I realize that is an unrealistic and naive view. I just find it hard to believe, despite Lott's assertions that crimes of this type did not increase during the period people were permitted to carry, that over a longer period, there would not be more gun-related accidents, whether intentional or not.

Thank you for your visit to these shores.

Jocelyn said...

You are my write-in vote on any future ballot, for any election.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Jocelyn,

If you will run my campaign, we have a deal.

seventh sister said...

Yeah, they reported on our local news that people will be allowed to carry guns inside Carlsbad Caverns. That sounds pretty scary to me.

Claudia said...

Boy, I can't imagine this is a good thing.Park rangers are now killed every year by people with weapons. The park service over the last 10 years has included more and more police training to cover all the weapons in the park now. I can't imagine this will be good.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Jackie,

So if tourists are not dead, they'll be deaf. Eeny-meeny-miney-moe.

Claudia,

While there are certainly law-abiding citizens who carry guns, I think this law gives wholesale permission for crazies to do so as well. Apparently it's not hard to get a gun permit as I have known people who had them and shouldn't have.

abhinavbharat said...

I agree heart and mind with you.

I have never liked the usage of gun in this way.

Gun's are not fun-tools, "they are made to kill" indeed, whether one wants to admit it or not.

the more no.of people start wanting to have guns, the more random shoot-outs there will be.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Abhinavbharat,

I feel strongly about this but apparently I am in the minority.