Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Guns in national parks?

Visitors to Rocky Mountain, Mesa Verde and Great Sand Dunes national parks in Colorado could soon be allowed to carry guns.

Under pressure from the gun lobby and 50 senators — including Sen. Wayne Allard of Colorado — the Bush administration is preparing to change the regulation banning guns in national parks.

Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne has directed his department to rewrite the policy for the national parks, with the idea that federal regulations should "mirror" state laws on guns in parks. That would mean guns could be allowed in national parks in states where they are allowed in state parks.

Colorado allows guns in its state parks, as do about two dozen other states, including much of the West.

Park rangers oppose the idea of guns in national parks, said George Durkee, board member with the U.S. Park Rangers Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police.

"People overreact and shoot at the animals," Durkee said. "We don't need any scared kids with guns running around the woods."

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We've hiked in the Rocky Mountains a number of years back and always carried a sidearm. It seemed almost stupid if we did not.

Unlike the Northeast where your reminded of rush hour traffic on most if not all trails, when hiking in the Rockies it was rare to run into someone except on the most popular trails. Assistance from fellow hikers if a problem arose would not be forthcoming.

In 2008, on many trails or camping areas we have those who stalk hikers and campers, either on the trail or parking areas.

Hikers and campers are considered easy pickings for those looking for an easy score to get money for there next drug buy or just to terrorize or rob with no fear of reprisal.

Even in parks that are well traveled in the east, many are near populated areas where the criminal element find it an easy walk or drive to steal a GPS, cell phone, or the cash carried by most visitors, or to find the lone women using the local trail to get in her daily run.

Carrying a gun to protect from wild animals is one reason to allow firearms in national parks, but it's not the reason I carried a gun.

Guns in national parks, you bet...

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