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Pro-con on lifting ban on firearms in national parks

There's concern that lifting the ban on firearms in national parks will result in a bunch of irresponsible yahoos taking potshots at any animal that looks at them with even a hint of hostility. Give me a break. Most people licensed to carry a sidearm understand the responsibility involved in doing so. People who have permits to carry guns commit very few crimes. They also understand that most concealed-carry handguns are chambered in calibers and come in designs that are not suitable for "hunting" animals. I believe most people licensed to carry handguns are reasonable and disciplined individuals. These are not the kind of people who will start shooting up animals or each other in national parks. The main reason I support letting permit holders carry in national parks has to do with two-legged predators. Robberies, rapes, murders and drug-related crimes are on the rise. Think about it. A young couple enjoying a nature hike comes across four thugs who don't care about park rules in a remote area. Without a way to protect themselves, that's a recipe for tragedy. — Joseph Smith,

Like many other Americans, every time I take my family to a national park I find myself thinking: "Wow! If I only had a gun." Now, thanks to Congress and President Obama, all of us will soon be able to carry loaded firearms into national parks and wildlife refuges. Even concealed weapons will be allowed, for those who have state permits. It's about time. The one element that's been missing from the outdoor experience in Yellowstone and Yosemite was the adventurous possibility that the drunks at the next campsite might be fooling around with a loaded .357. The battle to put loaded guns back in the hands of American vacationers wasn't easy. Efforts to revoke the Reagan rules fell short even when Congress was controlled by the Republicans and George W. Bush was president. But Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., slyly attached the controversial parks measure as an amendment to the credit-card reform bill, which he knew was certain to be passed and sent to Obama. The president was pushing to sign it by Memorial Day. Democratic leaders couldn't figure out how to separate the gun issue from the credit-card issue, and again found themselves outfoxed and outmaneuvered. — Carl Hiaasen, Miami Herald