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The possibility of hikers and campers packing heat along with dehydrated meals and sleeping pads into our national parks just got a little bit closer to reality. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee voted 18-5 to introduce a bill allowing visitors to bring loaded guns into national parks.
The bill, drafted by Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., allows park patrons to possess loaded guns in national parks unless state laws prevent them from doing so. Currently, park guests can only have guns if they are dissassembled and unloaded.
While the NRA rallied forcefully behind this cause, park officials and employees have widely derided the push, stating that poaching will be much more difficult to control and violent confrontations in national parks could increase. Though the stated purpose of the bill is to prevent violent crime, stats show that violent crime in national parks remains relatively low.
The bill enjoys bipartisan support and could get finalized before Bush leaves office.
Did anyone out there in Backpacker Internet-land join in on the debate? If so, let us know what you think in the comments section — kiss-kiss or bang-bang?
— Ted Alvarez
Senate Panel Votes to Permit National Park Visitors to Carry Guns (CQ Politics)