It will now be up to President Barack Obama to decide on Sen. Tom Coburn’s legislation that would allow people to carry concealed weapons in national parks.
As it stands, you can have a gun with you in a national park, but it must be secured and unloaded. Coburn’s legislation — an amendment to a credit card measure — changes that. In states that allow concealed weapons, people would be able to carry such weapons in national parks.
We had some debate on this when it first came up. Naturally, there’s quite a bit of emotion from gun control advocates and Second Amendment watchers.
I’m really not into the politics of it. What I am interested in is the practical side of this issue.
As I’ve said previously, I’m a gun owner. Have been for years. I’ve hunted, I’ve shot skeet. I’ve enjoyed shooting with others, particularly those who have a wide variety of firearms that I don’t have. I do not have a conceal/carry permit.
I’ve also been to a number of national parks. At no time in those visits have I carried a firearm with me.
So now I’m going to step into a gray area. Here’s a couple scenarios:
— You’re strolling through downtown Oklahoma City and decide to take a walk through the Oklahoma City National Memorial. Is this an appropriate place to have a loaded firearm with you? Why or why not? (QUICK UPDATE/EDIT — the memorial is a private site. See Nancy Coggins’ comments below, and substitute in some other urban national park site.)
— You’re in Wyoming and are planning to do some heavy-duty backcountry exploration of Yellowstone National Park. Is this an appropriate place to carry a loaded firearm? Why or why not?
I’ve been to both places, though I haven’t been in the backcountry of Yellowstone. My thinking on this, I must admit, may not be very logical. So bear with me.
In any trip to downtown Oklahoma City, I’ve felt pretty safe and didn’t feel the need to have a gun with me. Others may feel differently, and I’d like to hear from you.
I have been bushwhacking alone in Montana and felt extremely vulnerable, knowing that the northern Rockies are home to grizzly bears and mountain lions. Despite the discomfort that backpacking with a high-caliber sidearm might cause, I’d never again go deep into grizzly country without being armed.
I’m sure there’s a bunch of other issues out there worthy of discussion. And I’m sure that discussion is already heating up.
— Bob Doucette
Looking for a list of sites in Oklahoma that are part of the National Park System? Check this link: http://home.nps.gov/applications/parksearch/state.cfm?st=ok