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Public’s "Last Shot" On Gun Regulation?

June 30, 2008

Washington, D.C. – The U.S. Supreme Court ruled last week on the right of citizens to have guns, but the debate continues today on the issue of guns in national parks. Today is the final day for public comment on a proposal that would allow loaded, concealed weapons in the parks.

The National Rifle Association says parks can be dangerous, so people should have the right to defend themselves when camping, but retired Park Ranger Doug Morris disagrees. He says the odds of anything happening in a park when you might need a gun are about as rare as being struck by lightning. Morris thinks the new Supreme Court ruling speaks to the wisdom of the existing park rules, which ban loaded weapons.

"From my perspective the parks fall into that area that Justice Scalia mentioned as sensitive areas -- places where loaded guns are not appropriate and not necessary."

Bryan Faehner with the National Parks Conservation Association agrees. His group is again urging the Interior Department to extend the comment period to provide additional time to review the Supreme Court's ruling.

"We have had only two days to digest 176 pages from this decision by the Supreme Court. This is not asking for a lot here. I mean, again, this is the first time in 70 years that the Supreme Court has looked at the Second Amendment, so why rush to end this comment period on Monday? It's just not enough time."

Midnight tonight is the deadline to comment on the proposed change online at the National Parks Conservation Association website, www.npca.org.

According to Faehner, a big problem with the loaded-guns-in-parks proposal is that some states would honor other states' concealed weapons permits and others would not. He says the patchwork of rules would be a nightmare for both the public and park rangers to try to follow.

Chris Thomas/Eric Mack, Public News Service - WA