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Old November 26, 2006, 10:22 AM   #1
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Interesting article - Chicago Tribune

Concealed weapons in the wilderness

Published November 26, 2006

Lots of kids, when very young, worry about monsters under the bed. Even when Mom or Dad comes in to reassure them, the kids may still worry. But as they get older, they begin to check under the bed themselves. And eventually, after many monster-free nights, they figure out that the danger is purely imaginary, and they stop worrying.

You would think by now gun-control supporters would have made the same progress on one of their most fearsome demons: the licensing of citizens to carry concealed firearms. But they seem to be trapped in a recurring nightmare that exists only in their minds.

So imagine their alarm at a bill recently introduced in Congress that would allow people with concealed-carry permits to take weapons into their home state's national parks. The indefatigably anti-gun New York Times warned that the measure is a step toward "nationalizing the armed paranoia that the National Rifle Association and its cohorts stand for" and "can only endanger the public."

Such fears may have been plausible once upon a time--when Americans were generally not allowed to carry firearms. But since 1987, when Florida decided to let law-abiding citizens get concealed-carry permits, that has changed. Today, some 40 states have such "shall-issue" laws. They've become the norm, and the fears they inspired have proved unfounded.

As it happens, serious crime has waned in the intervening years. Murders are now at their lowest level since the 1960s. Violent crime has been cut by nearly 60 percent since the peak year of 1994. Gun crimes have plunged as well.

It may not be true, as some experts believe, that America has gotten safer because more people are legally packing heat. But it's impossible to claim that the change has made us less safe.

At the outset of this experiment, gun opponents forecast that hot-tempered pistoleros would spray bullets at the slightest provocation, requiring the rest of us to wade through rivers of blood just to cross the street. In fact, one of the most conspicuous facts about handgun licensees is their mild temper. It's rare for them to commit crimes, and even rarer for them to use their firearms to commit crimes.

A report by the Texas Department of Public Safety found that in a state with more than 200,000 people licensed to carry guns, only 180 were convicted of crimes in 2001, and most of those crimes didn't involve firearms. Only one licensee was convicted of murder. Florida, which has nearly 400,000 permit holders, revoked only 330 licenses last year--about one out of every 1,200.

This record should not be surprising. As a rule, concealed-carry licenses are off-limits to anyone with a history of crime, substance abuse, drunken driving or serious mental illness, and most states require safety training. In any case, people who are inclined to commit mayhem generally don't seek state licenses to carry guns, any more than they ask permission to break into houses or beat up girlfriends. It's the law-abiding folks who apply for licenses.

Why would these peaceable souls want to take their guns when hiking or camping in a national park? Same reason they might take them other places: a desire to protect themselves. Though federal lands are mostly safe, they sometimes play host to crime. In fact, park rangers are far more likely to be assaulted or killed than FBI agents.

The Times says, "If Americans want to feel safer in their national parks, the proper solution is to increase park funding, which has decayed steadily since the Bush administration took office." Maybe that would help, but we can't put a park ranger at every bend in the trail. And if you run into a thug in the backcountry, you can't expect the police or anyone else to come to the rescue.

For some people--solitary women in particular--having the means of self-defense in the woods can be not only a comfort but a lifesaver. It's fine to trust in one's fellow man. That doesn't mean it's paranoid to have a Plan B.

Judging from a wealth of experience, adopting this new policy would be a non-event, with no unwanted repercussions. The only danger it poses is to criminals, who would lose some easy prey, and anti-gun zealots, who would once again be proven wrong.

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Old November 26, 2006, 11:47 AM   #2
Bud Helms
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Good article. Moving to L&P.
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Old November 26, 2006, 11:55 AM   #3
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Packing Iron

A very good post. I might add that I do not and will not visit parks and wildlife areas where large carnivores do and have in the past make yummies out of people and where firearms are prohibited. Were myself and family to
visit such places, a .44 magnum revolver would also be a party to the visit.
Being generally law abiding, we don't visit those places.
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Old November 26, 2006, 01:52 PM   #4
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Yup, I try to avoid places where my firearms aren't welcome. There are plenty of places where they are that I haven't seen yet. Besides, parks of just about any sort are crowded imitations of wilderness.
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Old November 26, 2006, 02:52 PM   #5
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I apologize for not indicating that the author was Steve Chapman. The article was in the editorial section.
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Old November 26, 2006, 03:21 PM   #6
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The New York Times is against commoners carrying weapons? I am shocked!

So, if this has worked elsewhere and will be a non-event in National Parks, then why not try it in Chicago!
"Arguments of policy must give way to a constitutional command." Payton v. New York, 445 U.S. 573, 602 (1980).
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Old November 26, 2006, 05:32 PM   #7
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why not try it in Chicago!
Because Chicago wants to be "progressive" - like New York City.
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Old November 26, 2006, 08:44 PM   #8
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I'm personally impressed that the Tribune printed this.
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Old November 27, 2006, 01:27 AM   #9
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Is there an E-mail so we can leave positive feedback?
I don't carry a gun to go looking for trouble, I carry a gun in case trouble finds me.
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Old November 27, 2006, 02:27 AM   #10
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I sure never read anything like that in the Tribune when I was living up there!

Well written, thoughtful, well-structured, and great in general... this guy is going to get flamed to a cinder in the "letters to the editor" section but I would be willing to bet the tirades will not be nearly as coherent or eloquently argued as this fine piece was.

Steve is a rare bird up in that forest.
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Old November 27, 2006, 02:53 PM   #11
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Steve Chapman is a Libertarian. His sister studied under Milton Friedman at the U of C and recieved an advanced degree in Economics. Steve referred to Milton on occasion for "theory testing".

Steve is a breath of fresh air in the cesspool of Cook County, City of Chicago,
despots, criminals and idiots.
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Old November 27, 2006, 07:12 PM   #12
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Steve Chapman's e-mail address, as shown in the Tribune, is..

E-mail: [email protected]
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