Forums / Political & Legal / New gun rules do not affect ONP

5 years 12 weeks ago, 5:13 PM

samD

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New gun rules do not affect ONP

By Rob Ollikainen
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES -- A new federal rule that allows visitors to carry loaded firearms into Olympic National Park has not changed the way the park operates.

The Interior Department rule, which was approved by the Bush administration on Dec. 5, took effect Jan. 1.

"We haven't noticed any difference operationally as a result of that," Olympic National Park superintendent Karen Gustin said on Jan. 8.

"We have not seen a copy of the regulation, and we have not seen any additional guidelines come through our regional office."

The federal rule allows an individual to carry a loaded weapon into a national park or wildlife refuge if the person has a concealed-weapons permit and if the state allows loaded firearms in its parks.

Washington state does, which means that people with the proper permits can legally carry loaded guns into Olympic, Mount Rainier and North Cascades national parks.

The rule overturns a Reagan-era regulation that restricted loaded guns in national parks and wildlife refuges.

The old regulation allowed guns in national parks, but only if they were unloaded and inaccessible.

Gustin declined to offer a personal opinion on the new rule.

She said it isn't likely to have much of an impact in the 922,650-acre Olympic National Park.

"We are not a high-crime park," Gustin said.

But Bill Wade, chairman of the executive council of the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees, said park law enforcement officers will likely use extra caution when approaching park visitors.

"Law enforcement rangers are going to have to be much more careful and much more suspicious," Wade said.

"It just takes away a little bit from that specialness that national parks have been accorded for years and years and years."

Gun permit policy

The new rule gives gun owners permission to carry concealed loaded weapons as long as their concealed-weapons permits are recognized by the state in which the park is located.

Washington state recognizes concealed-weapons permits from only eight states, each of which has requirements as stringent as its own.

The closest of those is Utah, so many visitors from outside the state will not be able to carry loaded guns into the parks.

The other states that issue concealed-weapons permits that carry over to Washington are Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio and Oklahoma.

Since the rule is so new, many people are not aware of it.

"It passed right before the holidays," Gustin said.

Lifting the loaded-gun ban was opposed by the Association of National Park Rangers, the National Park Service Retirees coalition and the National Parks Conservation Association.

The conservation association and the retirees coalition filed a lawsuit against the measure in Washington, D.C., District Court last week.

The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence filed a similar lawsuit Dec. 30.

"The Bush administration's last-minute gift to the gun lobby, allowing concealed semiautomatic weapons in national parks, jeopardizes the safety of park visitors in violation of federal law," Paul Helmke, Brady Campaign president, told The Associated Press.

"We should not be making it easier for dangerous people to carry concealed firearms in our parks."

Overturning the rule could take years if the Obama administration wanted to, since it would require a lengthy rule-making process.

Assistant Interior Secretary Lyle Laverty has said the new rule respects a tradition of states and the federal government working together on natural-resource issues.

Different states

Bush Administration officials touted the new gun rule as a way to make things simple and consistent for park employees and visitors, according to Wade of the retirees coalition.

But so far, he said, the rule has only resulted in chaos.

A number of parks straddle state lines, including Yellowstone (Wyoming, Montana and Idaho), Death Valley National Park (California and Nevada), Great Smoky Mountains National Park (Tennessee and North Carolina) and Lake Meade National Recreation Area (Nevada and Arizona).

"It's now become very, very confusing for people who might be transporting firearms from one state to another," he said.

"And if they have a legal permit from one state, they're going to have to do a lot of research," to find out if that permit is valid in the park they are visiting.

George Durkee, vice president of the national Fraternal Order of Police's Ranger Lodge, called the new gun rule "pretty close to a nightmare."

"At the moment it is a confusing mess, and I don't think that is going to change," he said, explaining that rangers will have to sort through too much information to determine whether a park visitor is carrying his or her concealed weapon legally.

"There's just no way, you just can't remember that stuff."

Rachel Parsons, spokeswoman for the National Rifle Association, said gun owners are aware of the differences in laws among states.

"Currently, gun owners are responsible for researching the gun laws within the states they are traveling, and that would be no different under this rule," she said.

"We're talking about law-abiding folks. They're very aware of the differing state laws."

5 years 12 weeks ago, 5:36 PM

undeniable

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1. "We are not a high-crime park," Gustin said.
What on earth does this have to do with carrying concealed, so only criminals carry guns?

2. "Law enforcement rangers are going to have to be much more careful and much more suspicious," Wade said.
If they weren't making contacts with the thought of the subject being armed then they aren't folowing their training. As for being more suspicious, is that code for having to actually be alert? I doubt it.

3."It just takes away a little bit from that specialness that national parks have been accorded for years and years and years."
In other words, "You no longer have to worry about being at the bottom of the food chain, and any criminal activity imposed on you by others can now be thwarted."

4."We should not be making it easier for dangerous people to carry concealed firearms in our parks."
The "dangerous" people already are going to be carrying concealed. Remember, its the criminals who pose a danger to honest people. I guess dangerous people to him are the honest patrons of our national parks who believe in the 2nd ammendment.

"The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist." Kevin Spacey: (The Usual Suspects)
5 years 12 weeks ago, 5:38 PM

Schuyler

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A couple of months ago a Ranger was shot and killed by a perp. He had no CCW, of course.

Second, 'as stringent as Washington's'???? It's not stringent. pay $50. get finger printed. Endure a background check. Fill out a form, and yer done. State Law says the local authority must give you a CCW within 30 days if you are a resident. turnaround is usually 2 weeks. In my case the local PD was extremely courteous and gave me no problem whatsoever.

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." - Edmund Burke
5 years 12 weeks ago, 6:42 PM

Anonymous

i,as range officer allow park rangers to use one of our ranges for practice,scenarios and qualification/requalification.they practice alot with what i see.these are the mount rainier park rangers that work within 20 miles of my house.of course groups dont want guns in the parks,it doesnt make it easy for the park rangers to act like they are swat team members.and personally it makes me feel safer with all the tourists and foreigners that come to our parks to know that some of us locals will be packing heat.

5 years 12 weeks ago, 6:53 PM

undeniable

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The public at large

I don't believe is aware if the amount of illegal activities that occur in our National Parks. You get the common thefts at campsite parking lots, a few muggings here and there, and lets not forget a story I heard from the ranger who dealt with it about a group of illegals taking an under age girl into a cave and raping her. I think it best that we the people are allowed to take care of ourselves. 2-3 park rangers trying to cover hundreds of thousands of unaccessable areas besides the common park area cannot be in all places at all times.

"The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist." Kevin Spacey: (The Usual Suspects)

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