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Yet another "WTF?" moment brought to you by the lame-duck Bush Administration
dubya anti drug
What possible purpose could this serve, besides being a big sloppy BJ for the NRA?

It's like they're actively trying to make the country a shittier place. What the hell is their problem?

77% of National Parks workers were against this decision, BTW.

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While I don't think guns ought to be in national parks, I suspect that the federal regulation forbidding it was probably unconstitutional. But then, I think everything is unconstitutional now after my first semester of law school.

I dunno...if there's sound legal footing to keep guns out of schools and airports, I'd imagine there's sound legal footing to keep them out of Parks, as well. But then again, IANAL.

That's the thing, though. States control the gun laws in airports when you're outside of security - you can have a gun in the front area of the Dallas airport, for example, because it's Texas. Once you're past security, though, you start to affect other states, and that's when federal jurisdiction kicks in.

And states control the laws for schools, too. Coincidentally we read a case for my Con Law class this past semester (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Us_v._Lopez) wherein the Supreme Court struck down a federal statute that forbade guns from being brought within X feet of a school. The federal gov't just ain't got the power to regulate that sort of stuff.

That said, I obviously think park rangers have enough crap to deal with, and the last damn thing they need is a bunch of heavily armed tourists. I hope the states containing these parks make the right call.

so since, say, Yellowstone Nat'l Park spreads into multiple states, would fed jurisdiction kick in there?

That's a good point, and I really shouldn't be pretending that I know who has jurisdiction over national parks. If they're exclusively federally controlled, then I imagine that the feds should be able to regulate them.

I want to say that they're federally controlled, but that may just be faulty memory of an episode of The West Wing. I believe they're overseen by the Department of the Interior, but I'm not certain.

A) First off, yeah... heavily a states' rights issue. Just because things are unconstitutional doesn't mean they're not enforced and upheld for a long period of time. There are many in government who believe the Federal government has taken more power than is constitutional, and secession/reformation aren't uncommon words to hear.

B) This law only affects the law-abiding citizenry. Let's take, for instance, the Grand Canyon. It's a big place. People spend weeks camping, hiking, doing whatever. Have you seen Deliverance? Criminals aren't afraid to take a gun into a national park. It's not hard; you're not searched. This regulation harmed those of us who'd like to have self-defense while out in the middle of BFE.

National park workers aren't the same as law enforcement. Do their opinions matter that much, when you take the "herd" approach to questioning? "Do you want people to bring guns into the parks?" "No."

I can't reiterate enough that the laws were already moot. You know, banks have signs on their doors saying "No guns allowed." People put up signs that say, "No trespassing."

The people who will now be carrying their weapons with them into national parks aren't people you'd need to be afraid of in the first place.

Concealed weapons carriers are all around you, from the polite old man who held the door open for you, to the middle-aged woman at the grocery with her kids, to the young guy in glasses taking his dog out for a run.

My opinion on the issue at large is pretty clear, then: score one for the law-abiding citizen.

Edited at 2008-12-07 04:10 am (UTC)

I'm not worried about the impact on people, I'm worried about the impact on wildlife, which is already at a tipping point in some of the parks.

"Tipping point." Evil Malcolm Gladwell and his buzzword creation.

I doubt it'll have any real impact on wildlife. It's important to note that this is still about LAWFUL use of firearms. Having one = legal. Using one for purposes other than defense is not lawful.

DOI's statement on that: http://www.doi.gov/news/08_News_Releases/120508.html

As far as (illegal by definition) poaching goes, that's dwarfed by human impact in general; population, pollution, and general care of an area. I'd imagine this year was rather kind to the wildlife in national parks, considering fewer people were able to take holidays due to the economy and high gas prices over the summer.

People aren't supposed to feed the grizzlies in Yellowstone, but they still do, and then the grizzlies have to be destroyed, because they've stopped avoiding populated areas. Just because it's illegal doesn't mean idiots are going to stop doing idiotic things. This supports both your argument and mine, but there you go...

DOI has been TREMENDOUSLY politicized in the last 8 years. They're concerned less about listening to ecological impact studies, and more about listening to bitchy ranchers. Of course ranchers don't want natural predators around their flocks/herds/whatever, but they're intruders in the ecological niche (on land, I might add, that they're paying a pittance for grazing rights). The predators are doing what they're meant to. De-listing critters from the ESA list doesn't necessarily mean the critters are no longer endangered, just inconveniently located.

Regarding the extant human impacts on wildlife populations, if they're already stressed by these things, why introduce what will likely be yet another strain on them?

Let's face it, while it's intended as a self-defense issue, it's going to be interpreted by yokels as open season on anything that wanders too close.

It's no secret I'm not a fan of guns. But considering the sheer numbers of people that visit the National Parks versus the number of people that fall victim to foul play within their borders, you're looking at getting-struck-by-lightning odds on having just cause to use a firearm in self-defense.

Edited at 2008-12-07 06:52 am (UTC)

"Let's face it, while it's intended as a self-defense issue, it's going to be interpreted by yokels as open season on anything that wanders too close."

Which is illegal now, and will continue to be illegal. Different measures need to be taken to address those issues. The people who would do this in the future are the same people who would do this now, and have previously. On large tracts of land, it's nearly impossible to enforce the laws as they stand, so there are plenty of people who are perfectly willing to contravene them. I.e. this move has no affect on those folks' behavior.

"But considering the sheer numbers of people that visit the National Parks versus the number of people that fall victim to foul play within their borders, you're looking at getting-struck-by-lightning odds on having just cause to use a firearm in self-defense."

This is something you hear a lot. It's a relative of the "it won't happen to me" argument. Just because something seems relatively unlikely doesn't suggest we shouldn't be prepared for it. I wear condoms.

(Of course, maybe I should say that the *real* risk/reward point there is that I buy them...)

However, it's the structure of the argument altogether that bothers me here:

First, it's contravening states' rights and imposing a mass law based on the behavior of yokels (i.e. the irresponsible or harmful citizen).

Diminishing the risk by hyperbole of probability.

By analogy, the same arguments are used in banning gay marriage. They call it "defense of marriage" because they think that traditional marriage, relationships, and children will be harmed by the behavior of others in their own homes, lives, and persons.

Besides, gays are promiscuous and the chances of them holding together a strong, loving, permanent relationship would be about the same as getting struck by lightning, right?

If we continue to use reasoning like this, and loopholes in the law (your friend mentioned US v. Lopez, a great case in point), we'll end up controlling every facet of individual behavior via the tyranny of the majority. And the majority in this country seems to be very afraid of its citizens.

And you don't have to be a fan of guns. I'm not a fan of guns, or of violence or the use of force. But the law has become a cudgel used against the good citizen. We are taxed by threat of force; we could lose our property, reputations, or careers if we say the wrong things (sexual harassment law, hate crimes laws, affirmative action laws, jim crow laws, blue laws, miscegenation laws, and other special interest -> special penalty laws based upon behavior, taken to extreme).

We have a very grave responsibility to protect our citizenry and the land under our care. America was founded upon powerful principles, though. One is "innocent until proven guilty." Which means that rights are not taken away until after a crime is committed. That stands in opposition to prior restraint, where rights are taken away before the fact.

"Women's law" and the abuse of restraining orders have led to plenty of men having psycho, stalker exes who got them kicked out of their homes, or cost them their job, based simply on their appearance before a judge, without evidence or witnesses, saying, "I'm afraid he's going to hurt me."

So I've been a bit long-winded, but to summarize, yes, there are problems. Preempting the rights of states and their citizens, who are just as entitled to their rights as we are, whether we're using them or not, isn't a valid, sustainable solution.

Edited at 2008-12-07 07:26 am (UTC)

I see your points, and they're certainly valid and well-argued. And I see the Constitutionality issue at its heart, but I'm just still troubled by it. It seems (to me, anyway) that the intention is to throw it out into the world prior to leaving office, have it challenged by the new Administration, and then have it counter-challenged by the NRA or similar group. The intent (again, to me) seems to not set things in order, but to set things up to create chaos. It serves no one's best interests, if this is indeed the intent, but rather only serves to incite malicious bickering.

It may very well be that this is one of those "never attribute to malice what can be explained by mere incompetence" things, but judging from the last 8 years of petty, frat-boy Bushiness, I would not be at all surprised by the "malice" explanation.

And, the petty part of me thinks that if Orwellian "Free Speech" zones can be set up for political conventions, then perhaps equally Orwellian "Bear Arms Exclusion" zones could be set up around the National Parks. In the name of the public good, mind you. If not, perhaps the penalty for the illegal use of firearms against wildlife in a National Park or protected wildlife sanctuary should be stepped up to be a rather sizable deterrent, say, oh, a major felony, with accompanying prison time, fine, and loss of concealed-carry permit in perpetuity?

Well... political conventions are a weird grey area between private property and public forum. And the things that went on this year were atrocious (I'm sure you heard about Amy Goodman et al., law-bending arrests, and preemptive disruption of activist media groups). And there was even the counter-chanting, to where if noise from a protest was audible, the audience would take up a pre-devised chant, like "U.S.A." or "McCain-Palin". They did everything they could to stop free speech and free press - including highly unconstitutional things - and when they failed, they fell back on simply drowning everyone else's views out.

So, no. No Arms-Exclusion Zones. They're even getting hit on the crazy DC anti-gun laws (poor politicians afraid of their constituency!)

As far as punishment? Certainly. We punish crime. We don't punish the many for the crimes of the few - we do it on a one-to-one basis.

No permit for you? More like "no gun for you." After all, it's the illegal use of a weapon, not about failing to adhere to the guidelines for concealed carry (to clarify, many states permit open carry, which is a truer interpretation of rights anyway - though not necessarily practical; a concealed permit has little to nothing to do with the presence of firearms in national parks). Not that the people doing these things are even likely to have concealed permits anyway, as that would be about adhering to the law, not about breaking it.

As for the motivation behind the move? Evidently it was supported on a bipartisan basis with something like 51 senators openly in favor as of April this year.

The wildlife issue, while probably not affected at all by this issue, is still in need of a solution. Maybe this will open up debate about a strong and specific solution to the problem, rather than a general restriction of rights and freedoms.

And now, to exercise my freedom of sleep. It's been fun ;)

Edited at 2008-12-07 08:13 am (UTC)

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