So now you can legally carry a concealed weapon while visiting our National Parks. After all, you might feel the need for a pistol during a hike up Half Dome!
It almost seems like an April Fool’s joke. Today a credit card bill passed through the U.S. Congress and President Obama is poised to sign it. The new protections afforded to credit card-carrying Americans are a good step forward. But there’s an unmentioned provision to reverse a Ronald Reagan-era ban on guns in parks, thrown in without warning.
I love this quote from the Brady Campaign: “Families should not have to stare down loaded AK-47′s on nature hikes,” said Paul Helmke, the president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. We saw this coming, when Bush reversed the Reagan provision back in December.
Now we have the freedom to bear arms while visiting our natural wonders. It’s not hunting season ever. No one is planning on attacking you in the woods. No one ever likes carrying extra weight when they hike. So this is political posturing at its finest, and I feel sorry for the extra burden placed on the National Park Service rangers.
Of course, I can’t help but think about Oaklanders carrying weapons around our city parks. Even if there were trouble makers, no one will really know about them. Only two park rangers are assigned to all the parks and their jobs will get chopped soon. While I believe our assigned police officers are focused on their city beats, park surveillance is too much to ask from an already-stretched crew.