Wayne Hare goes to some pains to establish his credentials as a "gun lover" in his op-ed ("The Right to Bear Qualms," Herald, June 7). Then, he launches into an attack on the recent change in law that acknowledges that U.S. citizens have a right to possess operable firearms when traveling in our national parks.
He finds nothing unreasonable in the prior regulations that required everyone entering a national park to disassemble, unload and keep guns out of reach. He mocks the idea that "tourists visiting the parks are feeling so unsafe in the great outdoors that they are clamoring for the right to tote arms in their RVs and handguns on their hips." "If so," he says, "I haven't heard about it."
Hare needs to read more. It's not bears and mountain lions that concern visitors to the parks, but human predators.
The very remoteness of many park campsites and trails leaves visitors vulnerable to such predators. The murder of a mother and her daughter on a trail in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest on July 11, 2006, is a case in point.
Crime doesn't stop at the park's edge. Crime and violence are increasing in our national parks. Regulations prohibiting firearms will likely be observed only by citizens who represent no threat to their neighbors and totally disregarded by those who do. The law-abiding are more vulnerable if criminals can be confident prospective victims will always be unarmed.
It's difficult to quantify how much crime is deterred by lawful possession of firearms. Knowledge that the potential victim may be armed can be deterrent in itself. Crime may also be deterred by the mere display of a weapon. Unless a firearm is actually discharged in self-defense, you'll never read about these instances in the newspaper.
Ware exhibits a curious animosity toward the National Rifle Association for its political action. What great prize has the NRA wrested from Congress other than acknowledgement that, like crime, our Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms doesn't end at the park's edge?
Virgil R. Pulliam, Durango