By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
A new law, which took effect on Monday, Feb. 22 ,lifts the ban on guns in National Parks. According to information from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the law “allows people who can legally possess firearms under applicable federal, state, and local laws, to legally possess firearms in this park.”
Bob Miller, management assistant with the GSMNP, said, “We welcome law-abiding gun-owners along with all our other guests.”
Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) offered Amendments 1067 and 1068 attached to the Credit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights Act, which according to him “would ensure that law-abiding visitors to National Park Service (NPS) and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) public lands can possess firearms in accordance with federal, state and local law.”
He commented that the legislation does “prohibit federal bureaucrats, activist judges, and special interest groups from infringing on the right for law-abiding Americans to defend themselves and their families in national parks and refuges.”
Bill Wade, chair of the executive council of the Coalition of National Park Service retirees thinks the lifting of the ban on guns is a bad idea. “It is not in the best interests of the visitors to national parks, the resources to be protected in national parks, nor the employees in national parks. Opportunistic shooting at wildlife and historic resources, such as petroglyphs, will increase.”
Scot McElveen, president of the Association of National Park Rangers, agrees, “ANPR is disappointed in the change in this law and hopes that one day the American public will trust those that live and work in parks with the best management judgment for the National Park System.”
He is worried about the effect the new law will have on poaching. “We think it naïve to believe that purposeful poachers will not take every advantage of this change in the law and make every attempt to camouflage themselves to avoid detection.”
Bryan Faehner, National Parks Conservation Association associate director for Park Uses, commented, “The new law guts balanced and reasonable regulations last updated during the Reagan Administration that called for visitors to places like Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, Acadia, and Gettysburg to keep their firearms unloaded and put away. These common sense regulations have helped keep our national parks safe, family-friendly destinations for many years.”
A request for comment from the National Rifle Association went unanswered by press time.