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Home » New West Network Topics » Politics » Diary of a Mad Voter » The Long Arm of the NRA: Guns in Parks
The NRA has gotten pretty much everything it's wanted in the past decade, and has to figure out how to maintain the membership rolls--and keep those all important dues flowing in. Too many successes, and it ceases to really need to exist, but it's got staff to maintain and offices to keep and Congresspeople to intimidate. So it has to manufacturer a new issue, by recycling an old one.

The Long Arm of the NRA: Guns in Parks

And with the Bush administration in cahoots, doing its utmost to lay landmines for the incoming Democratic crew, they dredged up an old Reagan administration rule to make the new bogeyman for gun owners. Yup, Ronald Reagan put us on the slippery slope to the UN confiscating everyone’s guns in order to impose one world order by ruling that people couldn’t take their loaded, concealed weapons on their national park vacations. They could only have their unloaded, safely stowed weapons with them. And how could people protect themselves and their guns from the marauding hordes of international troops coming to take their guns away while they are on vacation in a national park if their gun was unloaded and in the trunk?

Or something.

This is really just about the least real gun issue imaginable. Really. Ronald Reagan put the regulations in place. Can they really be that much of a threat to America’s gunowners? That must have been what the court was thinking when it granted an injunction to stop the rule from going into effect. That and the fact that the rule had been pushed through with none of the required impact studies.

So we’re back in the middle of a wholly manufactured, and ridiculous, gun fight. The NRA’s executive vice president Wayne LaPierre spent all of the campaign season insisting that Obama was going to take guns away, and the organization has been stoking those fears since the election. That’s resulted in a surge of millions of paranoid, and gullible, people buying guns. And, undoubtedly, a lot of new revenue in membership dues for the NRA to spend more money on more Congresspeople for more unnecessary legislation.

Who more likely to jump when the NRA snaps its fingers than Western law-makers? Entirely predictably, legislation has been introduced in both the Senate and House to undo by law Ronald Reagan’s gun restriction.

On January 9, a Bush administration rule to allow loaded and concealed firearms in national parks and wildlife refuges went into effect, but the Brady Campaign and National Parks and Conservation Association sued to overturn it, successfully. On March 19, U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly of Washington, D.C. granted the plaintiffs an injunction to prevent the Department of the Interior from implementing the rule. One day later, the National Rifle Association (NRA) appealed, but the judge has not ruled on the appeal.

Now, on April 2, Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID) introduced a bill (S.816) to codify the Bush administration rule to, according to a NRA alert, “restore the Second Amendment rights of visitors in national parks and wildlife refuges.”

Crapo’s bill is identical to H.R. 1684 introduced on March 24 in the U.S. House of Representatives by Congressman Doc Hastings (R-WA).

At least in the Senate, the national park gun rule is breaking down party lines. Crapo has four co-sponsors for his bill, including Montana’s Democratic senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester and Arkansas Democrat Blanche Lincoln, along with Utah Republican Bob Bennett. Hasting has 14 co-sponsors for his bill, all Republican.

(Can I just take a moment to say that no one forfeits any of their Constitutional rights by complying with the rules, that national parks aren’t some kind of Constitution-free zones where your rights are stripped away on entrance. It also sure would have been nice to have had these Senators looking out for our Fourth Amendment rights when the previous administration was so busy collecting all kind of electronic communications of law-abiding Americans without probable cause and without warrants.)

This where the issue leaves the ridiculous and enters into the disturbing. The NRA and the far right radio and cable hosts have been whipping their followers into a frenzy of fear about their guns being taken away and their rights stripped. (Again, where were these people when the Fourth Amendment was being eviscerated?) That fear has had tragic consequences. Obviously the young man in Pittsburgh who killed three cops had issues beyond paranoia, but prominent in all of the stories covering the shooting was the assertion from his friends that “23 year-old Richard Poplawski feared the Obama administration was poised to ban guns…. One friend, Edward Perkovic, said Poplawski feared “the Obama gun ban that’s on the way” and “didn’t like our rights being infringed upon.”

Now maybe this isn’t the best atmosphere to be putting more loaded guns into, particularly considering the opposition of the people it would affect the most–park rangers. Understaffed and overworked, park rangers have been real targets of attacks in recent years. Consider this, from 2003:

“Law enforcement officers in the National Park Service are 12 times more likely to be killed or injured as a result of an assault than FBI agents – a rate triple that of the next worst federal agency,” stated Randall Kendrick, Executive Director for the U.S. Park Rangers Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police. “The Park Service has failed to provide law enforcement personnel to prevent further violence; despite its own projections that an additional 700 rangers are required, the number of rangers is down 9 percent.”

In an atmosphere in which fringe elements of the right are painting law enforcement, and particularly federal law enforcement, as the enemy, this new effort seems at the least a tad misguided. I don’t know if Senators Tester and Baucus took the opportunity to talk with their constituents in Montana who also happen to be park rangers to find out what they thought about this issue, but I hope they will. Because the rights of the men and women working in our national parks should get as least as much consideration as those of NRA members.

About Joan McCarter

Joan McCarter is a contributing editor at Daily Kos, writing as "mcjoan." She has focused on Iraq, the traditional media, and electoral politics at the blog. During the 2006 election, McCarter focused her writing on Democratic prospects in the west. She traveled throughout the Rocky Mountain states through the last weeks of the campaign, researching and writing about Democratic candidates and campaign strategies. She is currently researching a book on western politics scheduled to be published in spring, 2008. McCarter worked on Capitol Hill for then Congressman and now Senator Ron Wyden. She has broad campaign experience and has been deeply involved in Democratic politics since childhood. She has a master's degree in international studies from the University of Washington and worked as a writer, editor, and instructional designer at the UW from 1995-2006. She is currently a fellow at Daily Kos.

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41 comments

  1. Guns. I like them but only on target ranges and for hunting. Lots of my friends enjoy guns as tools and for sport.

    Guns do not belong in public places, especially national parks where visitors are pretty much on their own. When I’m camping out and people are making huge noise near me at night, drinking and partying, there is no way I would yell to them for silence…they might have guns.

    Then there’s the guy I passed on a trail up to Sawtooth Lake last summer who was packing a pistol. That was scary. He was alone and carrying a beer and no pack at 4 pm. As we passed each other, he asked me how far it was to the Lake (5.0 hours round trip if you book it). Maybe he was meeting friends who’d set up camp, but to walk into wilderness in the late afternoon without knowing how far you’re going indicates a seriously arrogant or seriously ignorant person.

    Most people I know explore wilderness with a sense of awe for mother nature and her happenings. They treat the woods respectfully, with knowledge and thoughtfulness. They are not in a “dominate-the-scene-this-is-like-my-back-yard” mode.

    Please, keep guns out of the national parks!

  2. Joan:

    Putting your vitriolic ad hominem aside, you stated the following: “So we’re back in the middle of a wholly manufactured, and ridiculous, gun fight.”

    I beg your pardon? The federal government is flatly forbidding the people from bearing arms. Bearing arms means carrying them around with you. The right of the people to bear arms shall not be infringed.

    “Wholly manufactured and ridiculous?”

    Please get serious. Your ridicule of a serious constitutional issue is hardly appropriate.

  3. ““Law enforcement officers in the National Park Service are 12 times more likely to be killed or injured as a result of an assault than FBI agents”

    That is one stunning fact, and actually changes my mind about this whole thing a little bit. I mean, I always knew this was a manufactured issue, but I sort figured, “so what, let folks have their precious pistols.” I am a lifetime gun owner, and although I am not afraid of anyone taking my guns away, I prefer less regulation to more. But that fact about NPS officers being 12 times more likely to be killed or injured than FBI agents, that tells me that this could have real consequences on people’s lives. … I guess now I’m more upset that my MT Senators and Congressman are wasting our time with this manufactured issue, them also knowing this isn’t really about gun rights and also knowing it could really end up hurting our already overworked and NPS officers.

  4. Carl in Chicago, How many National Parks do you have in Chicago?

    GFY

  5. The LEO’s in parks are likely to bite it because, guess what, they have no backup. When seconds count, help is HOURS away for these folks.
    Same deal for the citizens, which the rangers, like all LEO’s, are NOT legally obligated to protect. That case law was settled in 1981. When Miss Big Kitty or Mister Bigger Bear or Mistah Crooked has bad on his or her mind, help is only hours away. So, while I don’t often feel the need for iron in the parks, I have felt it, and would like to be able to legally satisfy that craving, and support the rights of others to do exactly the same.
    As for being paranoid, Joan, after hearing the deceptive Mexican Guns Are America’s Fault yap, after hearing Dianne Swinestein say she’s gonna bide her time until she can pick the time and place, pardon me if my fellow gunnies are hedging their bets.

  6. I’m personally fairly neutral on the issue of guns in parks, but this article points to an inherent flaw behind most arguments against limiting access through legislation. To wit: Laws are only followed by the law abiding, who (by definition) don’t commit the crimes. I am wondering how keeping guns away from those who feel an obligation to obey the law will have an effect on crime rates (in this case, attacks on NPS officers)? It would seem that you would prefer a scenario wherein the only people carrying guns in the parks are the people who don’t obey the laws — precisely the same people who are already committing the crimes.

    Please tell me how keeping guns out of the hands of people who obey the law will help lower crime rates.

  7. GFY:

    Thanks for your interest, but it’s difficult for me to gauge whether you’re even serious.

    No National Parks in Chicago. We have a few lands nearby that I have visited, including Indiana Dunes and the Ice Age National Trail in Wisconsin. There are also various regional Wildlife Refuges.

    But remember that this is a federal issue, and I am a citizen of the United States. I have the right to travel and the right to bear arms. I travel a great deal, and being an outdoors enthusiast, I often visit National Parks, Wildlife Refuges, Historic Landmarks, and National Trails. These federal properties are indeed “mine” as they are yours – I enjoy them and appreciate them. I have the responsibility to protect myself and family from harm. My right to bear arms is ultimately the means by which I can protect myself. It’s my right and yours … anywhere we go.

    Thank you.

  8. The second graph. “Or something”. That describes this whole mixed up piece. But I’m not concerned. As a “far right” winger I think Obama will trip up by going after the First Amendment first, which he seems to be attempting to do now,mostly through his media minions.Did you see that 9 page Dept. of Homeland Security Report? I think it would be wonderful if he (like you) detested terrorists as much as he detests conservatives. Then again, he did kill three Somali community organizers yesterday. Sorry for going off on a tangent, but your piece is one of those disorganized scattershot things that I’ll admit I had a hard time following. Maybe I didn’t notice any of its nuanced layers of meaning. Then again, I didn’t go to UM, or, what’s that other college in Moscow? Idaho, not Russia. I recommend a Tea Party for you tomorrow, Joan. Then you’ll be okay. PS–Never start a piece with the word “And”. How utterly pretentious. Your copy reads like Patia Stephens wrote it. Oh wait, did she ghost it for you?

  9. [edited for expletives]

    Bill,

    Never start a comment with a fragment sentence. (Maybe you shouldn’t be giving out writing advice.)

  10. Bob [edited for expletives], You’re absolutely right. Mea literary culpa. And you’re not fooling anybody with that pseudonym. Have a cup of tea tomorrow. Cheers, as usual.

  11. Bill Croke: Your rambling nonsense and meaningless, unsupported claims make me cringe in disgust. Try not to be so hypocritical in your senseless claims to more informed bloggers unlike yourself, because your writing style is nothing to brag about. Keep that in mind next time you waste your time insulting people with your nonsense that you call writing.

  12. Setting aside, paying for, and managing National Parks is NOT one of the Constitutionally enumerated Powers of Congress, but the RIGHT to keep and BEAR arms is there. If you want to keep (fire)arms out of “public places”, CHANGE THE CONSTITUTION.

  13. “Law enforcement officers in the National Park Service are 12 times more likely to be killed or injured as a result of an assault than FBI agents –
    Yo! That’s with the current ban on loaded guns. Tells us how well that’s working doesn’t it.
    Now please explain to me how allowing citizens with legal carry permits who have been vetted by the licensing procedure to be law abiding folks to remain armed while on Park property makes anyone less safe. Seems to me that the rangers could use a little help here.
    But no, guns are always bad. No good can come of them. So why not disarm the rangers? Fewer guns has to be a good thing right?

  14. Guns do not belong in national parks. It’s pure and simple: you go into nature to enjoy and experience it. The risk you take entering a park is the individual’s responsibility. Having a gun is not only unnecessary, it’s foolish. If you feel you need a concealed weapon when you enter a national park, then you can support this nonsense bill. But look at the bigger picture: most park rangers and most people believe weapons don’t belong in a national park, and for good reason. Wonder why the bill set by the Bush administration back in January was repealed? It was by citizens using common sense and good judgement to overturn this load of nonsense.

  15. By John, 4-15-09
    “Guns do not belong in national parks. It’s pure and simple: you go into nature to enjoy and experience it.”

    John, I hear you and do understand where you are coming from. I too enjoy the peace and tranquility of nature and National Parks (especially backcountry). Likewise, guns don’t belong in schools, either. They are places of learning. But I wonder what world you think you live in? The world of your mind, or of the ideal, is not the world we live in. Guns don’t belong in schools, but sometimes, bad people bring them there to wreak havoc. This is why police carry guns, why rangers carry guns, and why some small proportion of lawful “regular” people carry guns. We want peace and tranquility, expecially in our national parks, but we acknowledge that criminal behavior does not respect these ideological boundaries.

    So you are both right, and wrong, in stating that “guns don’t belong in national parks.” Finally, and to some extent, it just doesn’t matter what people believe or don’t believe regarding guns in parks. Rights are like that … they are yours to exercise regardless of whether people might like it or not. I think one could argue the “foolishness” of carrying or not carrying a gun, but I ask you this … are all the politicians, celebrities, dignitaries, and police “foolish” for carrying guns or surrounding themselves with people carrying guns? If it were so foolish, we would not see the elite protecting themseleves with guns. They do it because guns help protect them. I can’t believe you’re not capable of seeing that, and suspect you just have a negative gut reaction to “guns.”

    The rule change what went into effect in January was not repealed … the decision of a single judge authorized an injunction, pending further study and litigation.

  16. When I read articles like this, I am greatly depressed by the lack of connection with the real world displayed by the writer. I am well aware that in a perfect world, you would be perfectly safe in a park and not need to protect yourself. But it is not a perfect world.

    I live near the Appalachian Trail, within five miles of the location where, last year, a 24 year old woman was abducted off the trail by a psychopathic murderer who had already killed several people in Florida and North Carolina. She was a concealed carry permit holder in Georgia, and well trained in the use of a side arm. But state law at the time precluded her carrying in a state park, and she obeyed that law. He kept her hostage for three days, raped her repeatedly, and then beat her to death, smashing her skull to the extent that she was virtually unrecognizable. If the writer of this absurd pastiche of lies and half truths had a similar experience, I wonder if her ghost would form a different opinion of the expediency of self defense. Judging from the poisonous and untruthful screed in the New West, I doubt it.

  17. Thanks Carl in Chicago for pointing out this is federal issue, concerning public lands, that should be decided at the federal level, incorporating the views of all Americans. (– sometimes that point is lost in debates concerning our public lands)

  18. Yes …

    Imagine that, a Chicagoan arguing for second amendment rights on public lands in Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, etc.

    I suspect that some in the New West wish it to be more like the Old East. A more “progressive” yet ironically repressive “New West.” Often, “progressive” makes for good ideology but bad policy. Sort of like Christianity … includes some very good ideology, but is usually the bad basis for policy.

    I understand that people want change. Change can be good, and we must acknowledge that change is inevitable. But regarding freedom and individual choice, change is almost always bad. Because in regard to freedom, there can be only one direction resultant from change … the loss of it.

    Remember … we begin with freedom, and regulations diminish it.

  19. Wow, Frank, I didn’t know about that lady.
    What was her name? She deserves that much. And the perp is on death row now, with hordes of lawyers saying he deserves LIFE?

  20. “On New Year’s Day, 24-year-old Meredith Emerson was hiking on Georgia’s Blood Mountain when she was abducted by Gary Michael Hilton. Emerson struggled and courageously fought Hilton for three days before he brutally murdered her. Hilton has since confessed to the crime and is serving a 30-year prison sentence. He is also the only suspect in the murders of John and Irene Bryant, whose bodies were found in the Pisgah and Nantahala National Forests of North Carolina.” Blue Ridge Magazine.

    Hilton made a deal with prosecutors in Georgia, whereby he led them to the girls body in exchange for a promise not to seek the death penalty against him in this State. However , authorities in North Carolina and Florida have instituted extradition proceedings, which Georgia has indicated it will comply with. Florida intends to charge him with first degree murder for a killing in a park there, and they will execute him if he is found guilty.

  21. Am well behind in my reading, so didn’t take the time to read the other comments. I apologize if my comment is redundant.

    In addition to the typical anti-gun attitudes of gun-grabbers, there were also typical lapses in logic. The largest of these was near the end.

    If national parks are growing increasingly violent and having crime problems, then to me it seems logical that people should be able to defend themselves. People who’ve jumped through the hoops of their particular state to obtain a concealed weapon permit/license should not lose their rights to self-defense because the grabbers do their damndest to equate them with criminals.

    Just as in the situation of colleges and universities, there is absoloutely no reason whatsoever to expect the law-abiding gun carriers to somehow lose all their common sense and good judgement simply because they drove past the ranger booth — or the campus boundaries. I just read yesterday that a study in Texas has demonstrated that folks with CCWs commit less crime than the typical/average citizen.

    The greatest illogic demonstrated by the grabbers is their oft-repeated prediction that honest citizens are going to become criminals because they have a gun. The largest result of this is the creation of “free kill zones.” Virtually ever mass shooting in recent years, of which I’ve ever heard, has taken place in an area where the shooter is nearly guaranteed to not face any resistance or actual danger. Even when the police arrive on such scenes, the shooting has usually stopped, or the police take cover until it stops — as at VTI.

    Denying licensed people to have available the weapons they normally carry has virtually no likelihood of causing problems in parks. It does create the potential that should something violent occur then the people with guns — and those without — would have a greater chance of survival. A logical extension of that is that if people likely to cause problems in national parks know that there is a good potential that many of the other guests are carrying guns makes it more likely that they will not act out.

  22. Beat her to death with a rock because she was denied the right to defend herself.
    Why is it so hard for anti gun whackos to understand that?
    Did someone mention common sense in banning guns? What kind of sense is there in offering up sacrifices to sickos like this who know right where to go for their victims?

  23. Why would this author assume that a person who has undergone special training, been fingerprinted, background-checked and photographed, and paid an exorbitant fee, all for the right to carry a concealed firearm, would somehow go crazy after entering a park? Does she maybe have an agenda?

    Is she aware that legal concealed carriers have a lower crime rate than cops? As for the illegal ones, disarming the legal ones only makes the illegal ones more capable of committing mischief in complete safety.

    Get a grip on your emotions, Ms. McCarter, and examine the facts. YOU would be safer anywhere and anytime that YOU are in MY presence, provided I am armed. But, then, maybe your little rant isn’t really about safety.

  24. The “long arm of the NRA”? Check the ratio of NRA political donations to that of the trial lawyers guild, and get back to me. This certainly is not about “safety” or someone’s “right” to “feel safe”. If you don’t like what the Constitutions says, move to amend it. I don’t care if the “regulation” was put in place under Ronald Reagan, Mickey Mouse, or Moby Dick – the point is all too often ignored that to deny a Constitutionally-affirmed Right, the Constitution MUST be amended. Anything less is, well, UNCONSTITUTIONAL. Especially since the Heller decision affirmation, the Right to Keep and Bear Arms must not, and cannot, be infringed. Period. The biggest issue I have is why law-abiding American adults must obtain “permissiom” (CCW/CWP/license) to exercise a Constitutionally-affirmed (not granted) Right. The law-abidng ARE NOT, AND NEVER HAVE BEEN, THE PROBLEM. Has anyone else noticed the simultaneous increase in both “gun control” and violent crime in the past few decades? “Gun control” has worked out soooooo well, hasn’t it? The U. S. Supreme Court (Warren vs. D.C., for starters), and several lower courts, have ruled that “law enforcement” have NO LEGAL DUTY OR OBLIGATION TO DEFEND AN INDIVIDUAL FROM HARM. YOU are responsible for your safety. CCW licensees/permittees are more law-abiding, as a group, than politicians (no big surprise there), law enforcement, AND the CLERGY. The Right to Keep and Bear Arms is not open to negotiation, nor “due process”, only amendment. Read your history.

  25. During my commute home from work, I was thinking about this issue. I have to go back to Joan McCarter’s words … “wholly manufactured and ridiculous.”

    This whole argument is that way.

    The bill of rights guarantees that the right to carry guns shall not be infringed by the government. Quite frankly, if you have a right to something, you don’t need permission, special permits, and all that. That the Fed bans carrying guns in national parks is quite clearly beyond the scope of their authority.

    This is indeed a non-issue, and the argument wholly manufactured. Without question, people have the right to carry a gun in the national parks.

    Federal judge Kollar-Kotelly “blocked a rule that allowed” the carrying of guns in parks? Give me a break!? Talk about “manufactured” The binding precedent in this “case” is that the right of the people to bear arms shall not be infringed. That’s been the binding law, and has remained unchanged, since 1791.

  26. First of all….Carl, Frank, Motoboy, stare, you all hit the nail on the head. After reading this article it is clear that the author has absurd, biased opinions. I am NOT liberal, NOR am I right wing conservative. I am a new breed of patriot that has collective views concerning this nations government, its current and future policies, as well as the direction of humanity.

    I want cannabis legalized and regulated; I want a car that is electric and can be charged with solar power; I want a clean and healthy environment for Americans; I want to be able to carry a gun in a forest while hiking with my dog, and want to legally have an AR-15 continue to sit in my gun safe; I DO NOT care about gay marriage; I DO NOT care about abortion. I am sitting in the middle on many issues because they do not concern me personally. When it comes to gun rights and pro gun citizens, DO NOT label people left or right wing. Many people do not consider themselves a part of either and just want to live in peace (many whom have a gun on them right now).

    Guns don’t kill people. People kill people and it will always be that way. Those who obey gun laws are most likely obeying all other laws and are only intending to defend themselves and their loved ones.

    The Author:
    Get real lady. You are just as bad as far right wing journalists. Fair and balanced means something entirely different to you media folk. The ONLY reason I even looked at this article was to find out if I can take my Mossberg with me on my weekly hike tomorrow. I will indeed take it with me, thank you very much!

  27. Just a quick follow-up. I definitely agree with all the comments subsequent to mine.

    Yesterday, was able to watch a video of an interview of John Lott, the best-known numbers cruncher whose serious studies all seem to produce “pro-gun” results. I respect him highly.

    During the interview, Lott stated emphatically that in every mass shooting in the U.S. — he didn’t give a framework for the beginning date of his study — where 3 or more victims are killed, the location has been a “gun-free zone.”

    It is completely illogical not to admit that these statistics/facts are meaningful. Virtually all mass shooters plan for the episode to end with their own self-infliced death. They have decided to take as many other people with them as is possible. It is obvious that they choose locations where there is virtually no likelihood of someone attempting to thwart them.

  28. 1. If NPS Rangers are more likely to be killed in the line of duty, doesn’t that mean that the ban on guns in parks for the last 20 years has made the rangers less safe? It seems that the old adage that criminals wont obey the law applies here.

    2. I would think carrying concealed in a park would require the carrier to have a concealed weapons permit, which is issued by the state after an extensive background check. Mine took 3 months to get in FL. Therefore anyone carrying concealed must be an honest law abiding citizen looking to defend himself when some creepy park dweller with a meth lab in the middle of the woods tries to accost them.

  29. Carl in Chicago: “The bill of rights guarantees that the right to carry guns shall not be infringed by the government. […] Without question, people have the right to carry a gun in the national parks.”

    What about on airplanes?

    The whole argument is ridiculous. Guns – “arms” – have become, overall and for the most part, little more than a means for the otherwise meager male to pretend he’s the dominant pasture bull.

    Keep your zippers up, gun-boys. You’d be surprised, probably shocked, to learn how few people care about your personal impression of your ‘studliness.’ Live with it. Get a grip (sotospeak).

  30. FrugalChariot:

    The right to carry on airplanes? Certainly. And the right to carry on airplanes is infringed (for better or for worse). Yes, the argument is ridiculous. Without question, we have a right to arms.

    Your digression to virility jokes, etc., is all too common. I often read them in discussions like this. Usually, people use them when the argument is over their head, or when the logic frustrates them, or simply when they want to be either “cute” or “mean.” Frankly, it’s a foolish and over-used ad hominem argument. A way to make fun, to make a joke, about a serious issue and a serious right.

    Would you ban fire just because it can burn? It’s a fool’s argument. Fire is useful, as guns are useful. Both can damage as well, when misused. And neither of them can be “uninvented.” So at some level, you just need to learn to live with them.

    Frugal, why are so many women interested in firearms for protection? Why are they flocking to gun training courses, and why are they carrying more often? Why are the various positive deterrent effects of carry most acute for women? Sure, I will grant you that men, and particularly young men, are impressed by the “cool factor” or “virility factor” of things like guns, football, fast cars, and the like. Perhaps they always will be. But perhaps the most valuable thing about guns is their ability to equalize us … without such tools, the old, infirm, handicapped, the weak … and yes, the female sex … would simply be helpless prey of strong, young, and ill-intentioned men. Perhaps not “helpless”, but at the least, seriously disandantaged. Do you not understand that there have always been strong people that prey upon weak people? Do you not understand that it will always be so in reality?

    So go ahead, make fun if you want to. We who own firearms do so because they are inherently useful and perhaps uniquely suitable tools. Many who don’t own them intuitively understand why someone would. We know why we own them, and we know why we won’t be giving them up to either well-intentioned or deceptive people who would deny them to us.

  31. Carl in Chicago: “So go ahead, make fun if you want to. We who own firearms do so because they are inherently useful and perhaps uniquely suitable tools.”

    Hmmm. I don’t think it’s necessary for me to ‘make fun’ — hard to keep up with one who claims that ‘firearms … are inherently useful.’

    What, exactly, do you find ‘useful’ about them? Is it the noise they make? The smooth finish? The ability to kill something, to blow something away? The sensation of ‘power’ implicit in the ability to kill something, or to knock a can off a stump, to shatter a bottle? Or maybe it’s self protection, is that it? How many bad guys have you brought to justice with your ‘uniquely suitable tools’?

    I shot a squirrel once, many many years ago. Blew the little bugger right off the limb it was sitting on. I was so impressed! Watched it fall to the ground and everything. Then I watched him die. Like Aldo Leopold after he shot the she-wolf on Escudilla, I watched “a fierce green fire dying in her eyes. I realized then, and have known ever since, that there was something new to me in those eyes — something known only to her and the mountain. I was young then and full of trigger-itch …”

    The itch died that day, with the squirrel. I was fifteen years old way back then, fifty-two years ago right about now. I think I actually grew up some on that day. And though for most years since, I’ve walked through National Parks, and wildlife refuges, National Monuments, even Wilderness and Primitive areas across the Southwest; even though I still, to this day, hike and camp to my heart’s content, I’ve yet to have mustered even a single worry that because I don’t carry a gun I’m at some sort of disadvantage. In fact, nowhere that I’ve ever been have I ‘wished’ I was carrying a gun, or even, for that matter, a pea shooter.

    Guns are for fools, for those who, without them, see themselves as insufficient in any of a variety of ways.

    They are, of course, correct in their presumption of insufficiency. And therein lies the ultimate irony. How sad that ‘carrying iron’ doesn’t really repair the intellect. Or, for that matter, anything else.

  32. “I’ve never considered a difference of opinion as cause for withdrawing from a potential friend.” — modified from Thomas Jefferson

    We can differ in our views on this subject. I bet we have far more in common than might meet the eye, or meet this exchange. I had my own squirrel experience years ago, not too dissimilar from yours. I grew from the experience, too, but not in an altered view of firearms or their inherent usefulness, but in an altered view of myself and responsible place in the world. That said, I value my right to arms and likely always will.

  33. Carl, thank you for your moderate and reasonable comments on this thread. The gun debate would be much healthier if more pro gun advocates were as polite and restrained.

    Frugal, there are more than 218 million firearms in America. Roughly 20 million people hunt. For you to dismiss such a large demographic with such flippant arrogance is to betray yourself, to exhibit your own kind of foolishness. Rather than curling up in comfortable demagoguery, perhaps you should make an effort to see things from the perspective of another person?

    Regarding your squirrel experience…You have chosen not to hunt. That’s a choice I respect. Do you not respect the choices of those who have had the same experience and yet opted to continue? Unless you are a militant vegan, you probably eat some kind of meat or, at the very least, wear leather shoes. And so you have chosen to have your animal killing done for you rather than dirty your own hands. To my mind, it is more moral to participate in the taking of the meat for your own table than it is to defer the responsibility. I have a connection to the animals I eat, I feel a personal level of responsibility, even a spiritual connection, to the deer and elk in my freezer. What do you know about the animal that was slaughtered on behalf of your pre-packaged beef jerky?

    I use a gun for most of my hunting. Who are you to tell me I’m foolish for my attachment to this tool? For the defense of my right to harvest meat for my own table?

  34. It’s been an interesting experiment here, to see the somewhat measured response to comments which, when posted on other sites, result in varying degrees of apoplexy, including varying intensities of misdirected rage invariably embedded in an almost humorous vitriol — if vitriol can be humorous, of course.

    I confess: I do own a gun. One gun, a 30-30 which hasn’t been fired in all the years that it’s been in my possession. I also have two boxes of ‘ammo’ (somewhere, would have to go on an orchestrated search to find them) — I think there are 25 cartridges per box, but don’t know for sure, never counted them, can’t recall what the label said.

    My story about the squirrel was true; I’ve not shot at anything since, not even a can or a bottle, not even a ‘librul’ — and I have no intention of doing so, period. I’m not a hunter, never have been, nor am I a vegan, militant or otherwise. I’m a carnivore by birth; were I to hunt for my meat, I would far prefer shooting a cow than a deer, or elk, antelope, moose, etc., because, frankly, I prefer the taste of beef — no doubt a cultural burden. But I probably won’t do that because I know how freaky cattle ranchers get when a critter — any critter — kills one of their bovines, even when the only purpose for doing so is to quench a legitimate appetite, to feed a hungry family. In that realm, I distinguish myself from, say, the unfortunate wolf who sees the cow as food, not as a potential bank deposit. The poor wolf. He misses the entire essence of capitalistic endeavor and far too often pays with his life.

    In re the big picture, my preference would (today) be that the second amendment had never been written, much less included in the Bill of Rights. But it was, and we basically have to live with it unless or until it’s repealed: an unlikely scenario. So we’re left with legal interpretations thereof, and I definitely side with those who prefer to limit privilege rather than to make it universal in scope. Assault weapons? No way, get rid of them!

    The grand irony — today — is that so many of those who protest any interpretation of any kind that might limit the scope of the second amendment were parcel to all of those who remained so totally silent when the Bush administration gutted — from the shadows — the fourth amendment, and, too, as that same Bush administration blatantly assaulted so-called States Rights both in the Terry Schiavo case and in their challenge to the Florida vote itself in late 2000. And then, of course, came their deliberate challenge to the writ of habeas corpus, a signature-to-civilization issue for at least 800 years.

    And today we worry that Obama “might” come for “our guns?” In view of what the right wing has already wrought in just the last 8 years, it sounds rather insignificant, at least to me. In fact, I’d be willing to bet that if there is ever any “real” threat to gun ownership, to the second amendment, it will come from the far right wing, not the left, and that it will come first in the dark of night and with no illumination, no discussion. Time will tell.

  35. FrugalChariot:

    You are quite right that entirely too many people howl about their 2nd Amendment rights, but couldn’t care less about Bush’s abuse of the Constitution. That’s a very unfortunate situation. I believe it will lead to the downfall of the country, moreso than any other political factor I can think of.

    Bush’s abuses and his worthless little imperial wars turned me off so much I voted for Obama. I hope he does not now attempt to further disarm the American people. I’m one of those who believes “shall not be infringed” means exactly what it says. And if you believe that, then you believe that all the gun laws on the books right now are unconstitutional.

    Anyhow, not to belabor a point, but if Obama pushes gun control – ANY amount of gun control – he will lose my support. That’s not to say I would go back to the Republican party, as they seem to hate much of the rest of the Constitution.

  36. Meanwhile … the “arm of the NRA” just got immesurably longer. The 9th federal circuit court just incorporated the second amendment. 3-0 decision by judges appointed by Reagan, Carter, and Clinton.

    Guns not inherently useful? This court says they are “fundamental.”

    We therefore conclude that the right to keep and bear
    arms is “deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition.”
    Colonial revolutionaries, the Founders, and a host of commentators and lawmakers living during the first one hundred
    years of the Republic all insisted on the fundamental nature
    of the right. It has long been regarded as the “true palladium
    of liberty.” Colonists relied on it to assert and to win their
    independence, and the victorious Union sought to prevent a
    recalcitrant South from abridging it less than a century later.
    The crucial role this deeply rooted right has played in our
    birth and history compels us to recognize that it is indeed fundamental, that it is necessary to the Anglo-American conception of ordered liberty that we have inherited. We are
    therefore persuaded that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment incorporates the Second Amendment and
    applies it against the states and local governments.

  37. Carl, do you have a site address for that opinion? Would like to visit the posting…Thanks.

  38. Park Lover:

    I am sorry, I should have included it earlier! Hope this site allows the posting of URLs.

    http://www.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2009/04/20/0715763.pdf

  39. By FrugalChariot, 4-20-09
    “I confess: I do own a gun. One gun, a 30-30 which hasn’t been fired in all the years that it’s been in my possession. … My story about the squirrel was true; I’ve not shot at anything since…”

    Dear Lord! If you shot that squirrel with a .30-30, no wonder your view was so radically changed. Egads.

  40. Carl: “Dear Lord! If you shot that squirrel with a .30-30, no wonder your view was so radically changed. Egads.”

    Actually, no, I shot the squirrel with a pellet gun, a five-pump pistol (or maybe it was a four-pumper, I forget. Fifty-two years is a long time, details tend to fade).

    Have never shot anything with the 30-30, not even a can or a target. It’s a virgin, far as I know. I married into its family, sotospeak (and no, she’s never fired it either but was driven to hang onto it via the notion that she didn’t want her ‘ex’ to fire it. Either). Like that.

  41. Frugal …

    Ah, I see. Well, if it’s a Winchester, and made before 1964 (which could be figured out via the serial number on the receiver), I would be interested in buying it. Unless you live in Illinois, it would of course have to be shipped to a federal firearms license dealer, and then lawfully transferred to the buyer.

    But I understand it might be a family heirloom, in which case you’d want to keep it (even if it IS inherently useless). 😉