Congress and President Obama kicked off 2009 with the biggest expansion of U.S. wilderness in 15 years. But a few months later, to reach a compromise with Republicans on credit card reform legislation, Democrats also agreed to let people carry loaded guns into national parks and other federally owned recreational lands.
As of this week, gun-toting vacationers have been let loose across the fruited plains.
This is a policy that President Bush (and, one imagines, a certain gun-happy VP) championed. The rules against concealing loaded weapons in vacationland had been in place since the Reagan Administration, and remained in place despite Bush's initiative because a federal court ruling blocked his proposed revision.
Hunting is allowed on many public lands, so permitting guns in certain parks and wilderness areas is a no-brainer. But loaded? Concealed?
States can still enact gun-restriction laws that would supersede the national law, but one can imagine that the National Rifle Association will wield its considerable political clout to keep that from happening in many states, particularly some of the blood-red Western states that have some of our largest and most-visited national parks.
There's some sense to it. After all, if handguns hidden in fanny packs are outlawed, then only outlaws will hide handguns in fanny packs.
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