Following up on the letter from Congressional Democrats opposing the reintroduction of the Assault Weapons Ban, North Carolina's trio of of signatories(Reps. Shuler, Kissel and McIntyre) were joined by Rep. Bob Etheridge in voting to support the law abiding carrying of concealed firearms in National Parks and wildlife refuges. The vote came down last week as part of a larger bill to overhaul credit cards.
The change in policy brings the National Park Service into compliance with the existing policy to allow citizens to be armed in National Forests and areas under the Bureau of Land Management.
Why would you need to be armed with a concealed weapon in a park? I'm glad you asked that question. The Nat. Park Service's recent report revealed that 11 murders, 35
rapes, 61 robberies and 261 aggravated assaults occurred on parklands
in 2006, alone.
I had a near brush with violence in a National Forest many years ago during a hiking trip that gave me pause to think on the issue. Linville Gorge was the location of a double homicide back in 1998. Two campers were murdered after my group had been there. You always have to ask yourself, would you be ready for the worst case scenario?
Prior to the final vote on the bill, the media had a fun time lampooning gun tooting campers with cartoons like the one that ran in the Raleigh News & Observer. The only problems is that there are places in this country (usually outside of the beltline in Raleigh) where bears are not satisfied with just stealing your picnic basket like yogi. Between April and December 2007 there were at least a dozen bear attacks reported by park visitors.
The new law opens 13 NPS sites and 10 NWR sites in North Carolina to armed visitors. A similiar bill that would apply to state parks was filed this year but failed to make the crossover deadline.
All in all, it is refreshing to see bipartisan cooperation in extending freedom to law abiding citizens.