June 15, 2009

Kopel: Guns in Parks: The Hoplophobes’ Travel Guide to the United States

The lawyer and gun-law writer David Kopel produced a serious, but hilarious, discussion of mental illness exhibited by gun-rights opponents. Writing on The New Ledger website, he said in the piece, "Guns in Parks: The Hoplophobes’ Travel Guide to the United States":

I was one of seven authors whom the New York Times invited to contribute a short essay on the new law, for the Times’ on-line opinion feature, Room for Debate. All seven essays, from diverse pro/con viewpoints, were pretty good, I thought. The comments from readers, however, were voluminous but often very weak. Many of them consisted of left-over talking points from the gun control debate circa 1971, with assertions that no serious scholar of the gun issue believes. For example, many commenters claimed that it is impossible to use a gun in self-defense, because the attacker (whether a human or an animal) will have the element of surprise, that ordinary people are not competent to use guns for protection, and so on. Yet even the strongest scholarly advocates of gun control acknowledge that there are about a hundred thousand defensive gun uses annually, according to the National Crime Victimization Survey, which is conducted by the Census Bureau and the United State Department of Justice. (Other scholars argue for higher figures, but the key point is that no informed scholar claims that successful defensive use is rare or non-existent.)

Surprisingly, some of the commenters showed signs of mental illness. One commenter wrote that if he saw someone in a National Park with a gun, he would report the person for making criminal threats. (“Well, watch out, gunnut gunwack gunsels. If I see your gun while I am visiting the parks, I will file a complaint accusing you of threatening me.”)

Dave Kopel

Dave Kopel

Now perhaps that commenter himself is just an ordinary criminal, and for many years has been breaking the law by making false accusations against innocent people. On the other hand, the commenter might not have been intending to make a knowingly false report, but instead to have been accurately predicted what he, with complete sincerity, would do. A person’s belief, without a sufficient basis, that other people are committing crimes against him, is a symptom of Paranoid Personality Disorder.

To read the rest of the post, click here.

Comments (7)

JEFF W it seems we have about the same feelings about politicians.

Posted by: bear1 | June 29, 2009 11:13 PM    Report this comment

Bear, you have a valid point. You should be able to carry in any manner you desire. I still haven't figured out how a State can allow a person to sign out armored personnel carriers and machine guns but place restrictions on you when you change to civilian clothes. I have the same respect for dull minded politicians as I do for used toilet paper.

Posted by: JWallace | June 29, 2009 11:00 PM    Report this comment

JEFF W I may be wrong but from the reports from carry open cities, dounty, and states, they also have CCW but are easier to get and the reports that I have seen don't have very many bad guys doing any bad things cause they see to many guns around. but again I may be wrong. But at least I would have a chance to do what I need to do.

Posted by: bear1 | June 29, 2009 10:01 PM    Report this comment

I just returned from Montana and noticed Yellow Stone National Park still has signs posted that states: Firearms are not allowed in the Park. I wanted to hike Lamar Valley but didn't have the courage to venture into Grizzly country unarmed. Instead, I played the role of an ederly tourist and viewed the wildlife through a pair of binoculars from a distant parking area (boring in comparison).

Bear1, I prefer concealed over open carry because I just don't like giving up the element of surprise. If you open carry, you will most likely take one from the bad guys.

Posted by: JWallace | June 28, 2009 10:11 PM    Report this comment

Personally I am a person that likes the open carry laws. because it seems the bad guys see how many are carring and goes somwhere else real quick.

Posted by: bear1 | June 21, 2009 6:43 PM    Report this comment

I have always been somewhat amused with this issue of firearms in national parks. It never has made any sense to me to NOT be armed in a national park. I have been carrying concealed firearms since I could legally purchase a handgun. It came perfectly natural, and as a young Army officer whose first duty station was in a pretty conservative southern state, the carry of handguns was just an accepted thing. If you wanted to do it legally, all you did was visit the local sheriff and ask.
He would write you a concealed carry permit on the spot, with no fee, questions, or background investigation. That said, I always had a handgun with me, when I was out and about. During my PCS from Alabama to Alaska, my family and I figured we could have a really great trip if we drove all the way. We did, and we frequently camped in national parks as we moved north. Nobody ever noticed, and I never displayed my armament.....except once in Glacier National Park. A really creepy guy kept hanging around our campsite, which was pretty well removed from the mainstream of campsites. Finally his actions resulted in me asking him (politely) to move on and leave us be. At that suggestion, he became agitated, so all I had to do was pull my jacket aside, revealing my Colt Detective Special in a small holster. No more trouble! Incidentally, that same year there had been a couple of bear attacks in that park, but my need for the old Colt was precipitated by the actions of a two legged predator. That's the way it usually is.

Posted by: canovack | June 18, 2009 8:35 PM    Report this comment

Professor Kopel, thank you for this witty essay. The sad thing is the number of newspaper writers, politicians, TV commentators, police chiefs and college professors who also repeat ad nauseum these debunked anti-self defense positions (my favorite: "a gun in the home is a thousand times more likely to be used against you than to shoot a criminal!" Oh really?).
Keep shooting back, counselor!

Posted by: Squirmydad | June 18, 2009 10:41 AM    Report this comment

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